The World Bank is moving forward with plans to subsidize ancient rainforest
logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) mighty ancient rainforests.
The world's second largest largely intact rainforest expanse is found in this
Central African nation. Since 2002, the World Bank has taken a leading role in
reforming DRC's forestry laws, starting the process of 'zoning' the forest into
areas for timber felling and other uses, and encouraging foreign investment in
the timber industry.
On Thursday December 8th, the Board of the World Bank will consider whether to
approve more than $200 million in new funding for the government of DRC, some of
it linked to 'development' of the country's rainforests. The World Bank is
laying the basis for the destruction of Congo's rainforests, and it has breached
many of its own internal safeguard policies in the process. Under the World Bank
plan some 600,000 square kilometers of Congo's precious rainforest would
eventually be handed over to logging companies.
Forests are being zoned into areas for timber felling against the wishes of many
local communities. On the eve of this important decision by the Bank's Board,
twelve organizations representing the various indigenous 'Pygmy' peoples of the
Congo have submitted a formal complaint to the World Bank Inspection Panel, an
official independent watchdog, stating the Bank has failed to take into account
the impact that its plans would have on people depending on the forest for their
The World Bank Board now has the chance to avert a major environmental and
humanitarian disaster. They and Bank management must urgently be called upon to
suspend any further funding for forestry and mining in DRC until there has been
a thorough review of the Bank's activities in DRC's forests to date, and until
the Inspection Panel has conducted an investigation. NO further funding for
forestry in DRC should be provided until there has been a thorough investigation
as to how Bank staff could act with such blatant disregard for both the
environment and the rights of the millions of people living in Congo's forest.
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Bank subsidies for industrial logging will destroy the Congo's rainforests and will not alleviate poverty, nor can such logging be done in an environmentally benign manner
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