The Three Basin Summit falls short of bold actions in fight against tropical deforestation

November 1, 2023

At the closing of the Three Basin Summit on Saturday, governments and leaders vowed to strengthen collaboration to preserve the world’s great rainforest basins but fell short of adopting concrete outcomes to protect tropical forests and forest-dependent communities from the looming threats of industrial and extractive expansion.

A reported 3,000 delegates including Heads of States, government representatives, international organisations, financial institutions, scientists, civil society and Indigenous Peoples attended the event held from 26 to 28 October in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

The final declaration adopted by participants broadly lays the groundwork for a roadmap towards enhanced South-South technical and scientific collaboration, inclusive governance and solidarity among the three basins countries in the fight against deforestation. Following a statement from more than 70 Indigenous, environmental and human rights organisations, it also highlighted the need for greater participation of Indigenous Peoples and civil society in future efforts to protect the three basins.

Yet, the declaration is more notable for what it didn’t include. On the one hand, it contains no reference to controversial carbon and biodiversity markets, something many observers expected in the run-up to the summit.

On the other hand, any commitment to address growing extractive industry and other drivers of deforestation in the three basins was conspicuously absent from the final text. The declaration was also silent on a range of other key issues including the need to urgently scale up recognition of Indigenous Peoples and other local communities’ tenure rights, for stronger protections for environmental and human rights defenders and to channel greater resources to frontline communities and organisations.

At a press conference held on 26 October, representatives from civil society organisations APEM, MJPE and CAD and the Indigenous organisation ADPPA shone a light on looming oil and gas developments in the Congo Basin region. The speakers also voiced the grievances expressed by local communities who are left out from the governance of their lands, whilst a short film highlighting the fears of the inhabitants from Idjwi, an island located in the DRC’s Lake Kivu, who have been kept in the dark of ongoing governments plans for gas exploitation in their territory.

‘We cannot remain in the same logic [of development] where we promise change through natural resource exploitation and which is ultimately followed by greater misfortune for the Congolese people, who experience biodiversity loss and poverty. If our forests are still standing is because the people who live therein are their best custodians. Any real development approach should be oriented towards helping these forest-based communities to directly access more resources to keep managing and protecting the forests as they have done until now” says Bernard Adebu, Director of Programmes at ONG APEM.

The three basins account for the vast majority of intact tropical forests globally and more than half of global biodiversity. They provide livelihood to over one billion people and are sacred places to many Indigenous People and forest-dependent communities, which have been custodians of these resources for generations.


The full statement is available here:






3 basins summit

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