With 40,000 Signatures in Hand, Africans Come to World Bank to Save Their Last Forests

Media release - October 7, 2008
With 40,000 Signatures in Hand, Africans Come to World Bank to Save Their Last Forests Cameroonian Students Ask World Bank Not to Repeat Mistakes in Congo What: As the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group (Bank) gather in Washington for their annual meeting, a group of African students are traveling across the ocean to call upon the bank ministers to stop forest destruction in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The students are arriving with 40,000 signatures asking the World Bank to not repeat the mistakes of their "Forest Reform" in Central Africa, which allowed the large scale expansion of industrial logging into intact rainforests. The student activists are available to the media to discuss their work and how World Bank policies affect their lives. (See student bios below)

Why: The Congo Basin Forest is the second largest rainforest on the planet. In the DR Congo alone, 40 million people depend on the forests for their livelihoods. Forests are vital for our global climate: An estimated 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation and land use change.The World Bank has for many years been the driving force behind failed "Forest Reform" in Central Africa, allowing the large scale expansion of industrial logging into intact rainforests and causing massive releases of greenhouse gases.As a result, in 2002, the DRC issued a moratorium on new logging concessions, with the help of the World Bank, a law that Greenpeace applauded. However, the moratorium was breached and the Congo government is now considering lifting it entirely, which would open up vast areas of intact rainforests to international logging companies. Cameroonian activists are acting in solidarity with Congolese groups and communities, and calling on the World Bank and governments not to repeat the same mistakes they made in Cameroon. The moratorium on new logging concessions must stay in place until meaningful control is established in the Congo forest and until a land use plan is in place, based on the needs of the Congolese poor.

Who: Delegation from Africa

Samuel Nguiffo, CameroonSamuel Nguiffo, winner of the Goldman Environmental Award for Africa 1999, continues to be one of the most effective NGO-voices from the African continent. A lawyer by training, Nguiffo has devoted himself to the Herculean task of stopping the liquidation of the region's forests for short-term profit. As the Director of the Center for Environment and Development (CED) in Yaounde, he has worked tirelessly to defend the rights of indigenous peoples and to protect the rainforests. Nguiffo and his team at CED also assist forest communities with income-generating activities such as bee-keeping and sustainable use of non-timber forest products. Becoming aware that the vast forests of the Congo are now threatened by the same drivers that have been destroying the forests and their communities over many years, he decided to reach out to his colleagues in the Congo and to support, among others, the trans-african alliance "Kids for Forests". Today he is urging governments and Finance Institutions not to repeat the same mistakes in Congo that have been made in Cameroon. Nguiffo has represented Africa's forest countries at multiple international for a and is a member of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW), a network of environmental lawyers from 50 countries.

Christian Ebanda, Cameroon20 year-old student Christian Ebanda is in his last year at the Lycée Bilingue in Yaounde, and has been an active environmentalist throughout his student life. From 2000-2003 he was the President of the Environmental Club in his school, and he has been a leading activists with "Kids for Forests" for six years, organizing youth reforestation camps. Together with his Congolese colleagues, he has been instrumental in drafting the petition to the World Bank President and to collect thousands of signatures for it all over the country to help protect the Congo's forests. He is part of the annual parade of "Forest Ambassadors", who travel to villages all over Cameroon to bring educational material and discuss the importance of the forest with young community members. He was one out of two Cameroonians who represented his country at a major international treaty negotiation on Biodiversity in Brazil in 2006.

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VVPR info: Contact: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace, (970) 690-2728 (cell)

Notes: More information on deforestation in the Congo can be found at www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/forests/africa/congo-report More information on Greenpeace’s Kids for Forests program can be found at www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/forests/kff