The second ever ‘Three Basins Summit’, intended to preserve the vast rainforest ecosystems of the Amazon, the Congo and the Borneo-Mekong took place in late October 2023, in the Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville. Together, the three basins represent 80 per cent of the world’s forest cover, and are home to two-thirds of its terrestrial biodiversity. But civil society found that the summit avoided tackling the most difficult, pressing issues.
Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was notably absent, as were Amazonian and Asian heads of state, and although other tropical forest country leaders tried to establish cooperation on finance and protection they failed to form a unified alliance.
The underwhelming result crystallized in a joint declaration committing to combine resources and push for more nature funding. The declaration seemed to adopt more loopholes than actions, presenting seven vague “elements” that can “form the basis of a roadmap, which can be revised at each stage of the construction of the common framework for cooperation between the three basins”. This joint declaration may constitute the basis for further negotiations during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference (COP28), to take place in late November.
At the margins of the summit, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, signed a roadmap for implementing of the EU-Congo forest partnership. While the exact content of the roadmap remains unknown, the Commission has stated that the document “outlines measures to safeguard Congolese forests and support the development of sustainable value chains coherent with the requirement of the new EU Deforestation Regulation”.
In advance of the meeting, more than 60 Indigenous, environmental and human rights organisations released a joint statement, criticising the failure to address the increasingly threatening extractive industry, and for giving insufficient attention to the rights of local communities and Indigenous populations. The statement underscored new research demonstrating that, of the countries discussing protection for these ecosystems, “in practice many […] are in fact advancing plans that will do exactly the opposite”.
Tellingly, civil society groups were excluded from the Summit’s organisation, preventing them from bringing up thorny issues, and from creating a space to tackle deforestation and to protect the social and economic rights of those who depend on the forests and are their strongest guardians.
Category: Forest Watch