A summit dedicated to the protection of tropical forests opened on Wednesday in Libreville, Gabon, with the aim of finding "concrete solutions" to combine sustainable management of tropical forests and economic development of forest countries, noted journalists from the AFP.
"Forests potentially represent 20 to 30% of the solution to climate change, which in my opinion is the greatest threat facing us," said Lee White, Gabon's Minister of Water and Forests, during the opening ceremony. opening of this event co-organized with France and called One Forest Summit.
Several hundred people were gathered at the Radisson hotel located on the seaside, where the kickoff of the summit was given by Mr. White, and the French Secretary of State, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou.
"France will continue and accelerate its effort (?) for the forests of Central Africa," she said from the podium, before the launch of the conferences and discussions that will take place throughout the day.
This event, organized on the initiative of the Gabonese and French Heads of State, Ali Bongo Ondimba and Emmanuel Macron, is being held on Wednesday and Thursday with the aim of improving the conservation of forests around the world and contributing to the protection of the climate and species in a context of climate change.
The promotion of "more sustainable sectors" for products derived from wood or agroforestry and the search for financing will notably be on the agenda of the summit, which also intends to promote scientific cooperation between the three major forest basins in the world: the Amazonian forest, the Congo Basin and the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.
The summit "will not aim to adopt new political declarations", warns the organization, which stresses that it wants to implement the objectives set by the Paris Climate Agreement (2015) and the COP15 in Montreal on biodiversity (2022).
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected in Libreville on Wednesday evening. Denis Sassou-Nguesso (Congo-Brazzaville), Faustin Archange Touadéra (Central African Republic), Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno (Chad) or Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea) will also make the trip. Note, however, the absence of leaders from Latin America.
Behind the Amazon, the Congo Basin is the second largest forest area and ecological lung on the planet, with its 220 million hectares of forests spread across several countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon. .
This summit, which will focus on the forests of the Congo Basin according to the organizers, is "more than important to sound the alarm" on the management of forest ecosystems, warns Bonaventure Sonké, professor at the University of Yaounde.
The forest is the richest terrestrial habitat in terms of species and biodiversity. But, according to the United Nations, ten million hectares of forest were destroyed each year between 2015 and 2020.
“About a third of the species in tropical Africa are threatened with extinction. If we continue at this rate, it will increase. In conservation, you have to think that human beings need these resources, but it is You also have to think about making them permanent," adds Mr. Sonké.
However, to preserve "you have to know the resource", he intimates. "We do not know enough about these Congo Basin forests because they are not sufficiently studied (...) There are no substantial financial resources and we have fewer and fewer people trained to do so", unlike to the Amazonian forest "because we have put the means there", he asserts.
Located in the heart of the Central African rainforest and 88% covered by forest, Gabon, which is hosting this summit, is the first African state to have been paid for the protection of its forests thanks to carbon credits. A tool that was at the heart of the COP27 discussions on climate.
"We absorb around 100 million tonnes of net CO2 per year. Every second, Gabon captures 3 tonnes of CO2. We are on the right track towards a sustainable economy", assured AFP Mr. White on the sidelines of the event.
Gabon, where a third of the population lived below the poverty line in 2017, says it wants to combine industrial development and sustainable management of its natural resources to get out of its dependence on oil.
By 2030, the country has committed to sanctuary 30% of its territory in protected areas (sea, land and fresh water).
If the organization of such a summit is considered relevant, the arrival of Emmanuel Macron - at the start of a tour in Central Africa - is on the other hand decried by part of the political opposition and civil society while the country is preparing to elect a new president this year.
01/03/2023 11:33:38 - Libreville (AFP) - © 2023 AFP