- Sassou-Nguesso: 'Our Forests Have International Usefulness, Climate Change Biggest Challenge Humanity Ever Confronted'
The president of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, has urged developed nations to include the fragile Congo Basin ecosystem, which makes up one-quarter of the world's tropical forests, in climate change talks at the International Conservation Caucus Foundation's Summit on the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) yesterday.
At the roundtable discussion, Mr Sassou noted his country's commitment to climate change efforts and thanked the US for their efforts to preserve the basin's ecosystem. He called for a stronger commitment at the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen.
"We cannot wait until 2015 or 2020 before implementing anything," said Sassou-Nguesso. "In New York, President Obama said there is no more time for rhetoric; we have to act. Only by standing together in solidarity will we be able to overcome the greatest challenge to mankind."
As the world's "second lung," the Congo Basin contains 26 percent of the world's rainforests, and its ecology is varied, from rivers and forests to savannas and swamps. With estimates that more than two-thirds of the Congo Basin forest could be lost by 2040, Mr Sassou emphasised the need to prevent deforestation and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the region.
The United Nations' Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) - a program designed to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests like the Congo Basin - incents developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.
"Continuing to make the forest a perennial activity while preserving it so that it can be a perennial resource is a difficult task and the countries of the Congo Basin have committed themselves to facing this challenge," said Sassou-Nguesso.
"We hope that the United States will support this action whose goal is to establish a compensation system in relation to the prevention of greenhouse gas emissions. This compensation would be affected to the reduction of poverty and the preservation of biodiversity."
With the UN's REDD programme in place, financial flows for greenhouse gas emission reductions are expected to reach $30 billion a year, rewarding countries who significantly contribute to carbon reductions, while preserving biodiversity in the basin.
The International Conservation Caucus Foundation hosted the event to discuss the success of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, a programme that brings together governmental, nongovernmental, and international organisations. Participants also addressed rising concern over the impact of deforestation and forest degradation in the Congo Basin on climate change.
Also joining President Sassou-Nguesso at the CBFP roundtable were the President of Equatorial Guinea, the President of Sao Tome and Principe and the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic.
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