Indigenous, environment and human rights organisations call out the Three Basins Summit over growing threats to rainforests
October 26, 2023
On the eve of the Three Basins Summit in Brazzaville, 60 Indigenous, environmental and human rights organisations have come together in a joint statement criticising the initiative for ignoring growing extractive industry threats to tropical forests, lack of focus on community rights and for the exclusion of civil society groups in shaping the agenda.
The summit on October 26-28 brings together Heads of State, Official Delegations, Government Representatives, International Institutions, Donors, Financing Organizations, and Experts, with the aim of strengthening South-South governance for the Amazon, Congo and Southeast Asian rainforest basins.
However, new mapping and analysis released this week by Earth Insight in collaboration with RFUK and others has found many tropical forest governments are at the same time promoting extractive industry developments that could further imperil these critical ecosystems and local communities. Among the findings are that:
- Nearly 20 percent of intact tropical forests in the three basins are now in active and potential oil and gas concessions.
- Nearly 25 percent of intact tropical forests in the Amazon and Congo basins are now in active or potential mining concessions.
- In Indonesia, nearly half of all nickel concessions, a major source for the Electric Vehicle industry, overlap with natural forests.
- Over 200 million people, including a significant proportion of Indigenous and local communities, or about 20 percent of the population in the three basin regions, live within oil and gas blocks.
Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples and other environmental organisations, many of whom face growing threats for defending their lands from these industries, have criticised their exclusion from the Three Basins summit, raising concerns that it appears to be more focused on promoting controversial voluntary carbon markets than truly supporting forest communities at the coalface of the climate and biodiversity crises.
Joe Eisen, RFUK executive director, said, “With certain governments of the three basins talking up dubious forest carbon and biodiversity markets while simultaneously advancing plans to industrialise tropical forests, the concern is that this turns out to be the ‘two-faced summit’. Meanwhile those who are our best hope of protecting rainforests, Indigenous Peoples and other frontline organisations, appear to have been largely excluded by the organisers. This powerful statement sends a clear message: there can be no solutions to deforestation without them at the forefront.”
The statement goes onto providing several recommendations for governments of tropical forest countries and those in the global north, including scaling up recognition of community tenure rights, securing greater protections for environmental and human rights defenders and more direct funding and support for frontline communities and organisations, including through non-market-based approaches.
Trésor Nzila, Coordinator of the NGO CAD in the Republic of Congo said, "Indigenous Peoples and other local communities are bearing the brunt of the negative effects of the large-scale illegal exploitation of natural resources, particularly wood and extractive commodities in the countries of the three basins, whilst strict forest conservation closes off forests to local communities. It is essential to abandon any vision of industrialization or a development model that threatens the very existence of people whose lives depend on forests and their ecosystem.
A press conference will be held by civil society and Indigenous leaders on 26 October at 15:30 local time at the United Nations Information Centre in Brazzaville to explore the looming threats from extractive industries in the Congo Basin and to showcase testimonies from forest communities affected by oil and gas exploration.
The full statement is available here:
It remains open for signing onto until the end of Summit on October 28 via this link
You can read the mapping analysis and research on threats to the three basins here