Gino Cocchiaro of Natural Justice took part in meetings on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hosted by The Forest Dialogue and Forest Peoples Programme from 21-25 May. The meeting consisted of a visit to Luki Biosphere Reserve in the far west of the country to meet with members of the communities of Kiobo and Kifulu who will likely be involved in REDD projects. Participants also dialogued with members of the Ministry of Environment and representatives of industry, civil society and indigenous and local communities. During the dialogue representatives were able to make recommendations and collaboratively plan the implementation of FPIC in REDD to ensure the participation of forest communities in the country’s projects.
Holding the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon, 58% of DRC is covered by tropical rainforest. However, it is expected that deforestation will increase substantially to support DRC’s growing infrastructure, farming and mining developments. REDD has now become a major strategic issue in the country with approximately 500 million USD expected to flow into the country. Only a small amount of this amount has been dedicated towards consultation and participation of communities living in and utilizing the forests.
The Forest Dialogue’s background paper on FPIC and REDD+ in the DRC can be downloaded here.