TBI DR Congo participated actively in the World Environment Day on June 5th. Two events were organized in Kisangani: a ‘reflection day’ (2nd of June) and a conference (9th of June) by SECSB (Synergy of ecologists for awareness raising on biodiversity conservation), ANJ (Friends of Nature and Gardens), OCEAN (Organization of Ecologists and Friends of Nature) and TBI DR Congo.
The topics presented and discussed during the two days evolved around a theme that receives a lot of international attention lately: "The Green Economy: Does it include you?” During the reflection day, five presentations have been given by different professionals on the context of the green economy in DR Congo: FLEGT and REDD+; forest governance and oil production in eastern DR Congo (Lake Edward and the National Park Virunga). The presentation on REDD+ showed that this process could provide significant financial support to the economy of the DR Congo provided that the principles of good governance, secure land tenure and land use planning are respected when tackling the causes of deforestation (slash and burn, wood energy, illegal logging).
Based on the information presented on the FLEGT processes the participants agreed that the FLEGT process can strengthen the international confidence in timber from DR Congo while also increasing state revenues that can be used for socioeconomic development. Currently however, the application of the law is hindered by the lack of regulations of some forest sectors and social inequity in access to forest resources and the benefits derived from it.
Concerning oil exploitation in eastern DR Congo, the discussions geared around the question whether oil resources in Lake Edward and the Virunga Park should be considered as ‘manna from heaven’ or a ‘time bomb’. Participants were divided on this issue: the environmentalist group, while recognizing the importance of oil exploitation for the national economy, does not support oil exploitation in the Virunga National Park. They fear that oil exploitation could have a significant impact on the biodiversity of the park and they would rather opt for the valuation of environmental services. The second group rather pleaded for the revival of the national economy and estimated that the impact of oil exploitation on the biodiversity in the park could be reduced and would be compensated by the improved socioeconomic status of the local communities due to increased investments in their living conditions. However, it has been shown that since the creation of this park, the socioeconomic status of local communities has not improved.
During the conference on the 9th of June the opportunities and challenges of converting the Congolese economy into a ‘green’ economy have been discussed, also in the light of the upcoming United Nations World Conference on Sustainable Development "Rio +20" (20 - 22 June 2012 in Brazil). Participants came up with several recommendations to help DR Congo to develop a ‘green’ economy such as: the adoption of ecological farming techniques, intensification of agriculture, improved governance; the use of clean engines (less pollution) and the use of improved cooking stoves.
TBI RD Congo researchers gave presentations during the Environment day celebrations. Dieu-Merci Assumani talked about: "Forest governance and the introduction of the FLEGT process in DR Congo", Patrick Matata talked about: "Green economy: opportunities and challenges for DR Congo".