The fate of the world's three largest forest areas is at stake in Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo. But on the second day of the summit, no head of state from Amazonia or Asia has yet shown up in Brazzaville. These absences cast doubt on whether the summit's objectives will be achieved, in particular the establishment of a common front in international negotiations on forests.
Friday 27 October 2023 marks the second day of the first Summit of the Three Forest Basins – the Amazon, the Congo Basin and South-East Asia – which is being held at the Kintélé International Conference Centre in the northern suburbs of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. After a first day devoted to the work of the experts, it will be the turn of the ministers responsible for forests, who will then hand over to the heads of state on Saturday 28 October 2023, the last day of the summit.
The final day of the summit is of vital importance, as it is on this occasion that the expected decisions and commitments are expected to be made. But according to the organisers, apart from the host of the summit, the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and nearly five other Central African presidents, including Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic (CAR), whose plane landed in Brazzaville on the afternoon of 25 October 2023, no head of state from Amazonia or Asia will be making the trip. In her speech at the opening ceremony of the summit, Arlette Soudant Nonault, the Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin and technical coordinator of the Congo Basin Climate Commission, said that Presidents Lula Da Silva of Brazil and Emmanuel Macron of France would be sending video messages of support during the high-level segment, as would António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
A repeat of 2011?
The notable absences of heads of state from Amazonia and Asia, not to mention leaders of the international community such as French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General António Guterres, should not raise fears that the first summit of the three forest basins will fail to achieve its intended objectives.
In 2011, the Congolese capital hosted a summit on the three tropical forest basins. In a joint declaration, the participants promised to harmonise their efforts to combat deforestation and move towards a common front in the climate negotiations. However, no permanent structure was created for this purpose, as some African countries had hoped.
Meanwhile, deforestation continues to soar. On 24 October 2023, ahead of the Three Basins Summit, a consortium of environmental organisations led by Earth Insight published a report on deforestation. The document shows that almost 400 million hectares, or 26% of the average intact tropical forest, are now under oil, gas and mining concessions in the three basins. In these last green lungs of the planet, almost 50,000 inhabited places (villages, communities, towns, etc.) are located in oil, gas and mining concessions.