NGOs Urge International Community to Act on Impending Natural Resource Grab in DRC

March 23, 2023

Fifteen Congolese and International NGOs have warned of an imminent sell-off of timber, oil and carbon rights in the run-up to elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo later this year. 

In a letter to the Inter-Donor Group on Environment and Climate (GIBEC) ahead of its planned meeting with DRC President Tshisekedi this week, we call for their urgent action on these developments that threaten tens of millions of hectares of forests as well as several international commitments designed to protect them.   

Earlier this month, the Environment Ministry published a preliminary legal review of 82 logging and conservation titles in DRC, validating only twelve of them. While such a review is something that RFUK has long campaigned for and its findings are broadly consistent with our own analysis of the extent of illegality in the country’s forests, there are signs it is being used to prepare the ground for a reallocation of concessions, possibly in breach of a 20-year national ban on the allocation of new concessions. 

In the letter, the NGOs also highlight several concerns with the ongoing auction of 30 oil and gas blocks in DRC including alleged backroom deals for some blocks and the flouting of several Congolese laws and commitments. This follows mapping analysis published by RFUK and Earth InSight that laid bare the social and environmental risks of fossil fuel development in DRC’s forests as well as a public petition that has so far garnered 115,000 signatures.  

Earlier this month, the Congolese civil society network GTCRR also published a scathing position note on the deterioration of environmental governance in DRC. 

RFUK Executive Director Joe Eisen said, “The global climate and the livelihoods of forest communities simply cannot afford DRC’s natural resources to be frittered away like this. We call on GIBEC and the DRC government re-commit to forest reform efforts in DRC and to uphold the rule of law in the country.” 

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