World Bank Threatens Congo’s Rainforests

The World Bank is moving forward with a plan to open up the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) mighty rainforests — the world's second largest — for massive industrial felling of timber. Forests are being zoned into areas for timber felling against the wishes of many local communities including the 'Pygmy' peoples. Nonetheless, the World Bank continues with funding plans for the DRC government, which include commitments to begin massive industrial rainforest development through highly exploitative logging. I am sure that WWF and other ancient forest logging apologists providing cover to such ecological sacrilege are giddy with the prospects of having more ancient forest logging to certify as being environmentally sound. Shame on those that destroy ancient primary forests, and mislead saying this slaughter reduces poverty or is environmentally benign. May their ecological desecration and social upheaval bring them the eternal damnation they deserve.


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RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
RAINFOREST FOUNDATION
PRESS RELEASE
5th December 2005: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONGO'S 'PYGMIES' AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS CHALLENGE WORLD BANK ON THREAT TO RAINFORESTS: UK GOVERNMENT CALLED ON TO INTERVENE
On the eve of an important decision by the Board of the World Bank, ' Pygmy ' people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have issued a major challenge to the Bank about its plans to open up the world's second largest rainforest for massive industrial felling of timber.
Since 2002, the World Bank has taken a leading role in reforming DRC's forestry laws, starting the process of 'zoning' the forest into areas for timber felling and other uses, and encouraging foreign investment in the timber industry [1].
Twelve organisations representing the various indigenous 'Pygmy' peoples of the Congo have now submitted a formal complaint to the World Bank Inspection Panel, an official independent watchdog, because the Bank has failed to take into account the impact that its plans would have on people depending on the forest for their survival [2].
On Thursday December 8th, the Board of the World Bank will consider whether to approve more than $200 million in new funding for the government of DRC, some of it linked to 'development' of the country's rainforests [3].
The Rainforest Foundation and Friends of the Earth have written to the Board of the Bank, including the UK Government's Executive Director, calling on it to suspend any further funding for forestry and mining in DRC until there has been a thorough review of the Bank's activities in DRC's forests to date, and until the Inspection Panel has conducted an investigation [4] .
Simon Counsell, Director of the Rainforest Foundation, said:
“The World Bank is laying the basis for the destruction of Congo's rainforests, and it has breached many of its own internal safeguard policies in the process. It has set out a plan to 'zone' Congo's forests in which up to 600,000 square kilometres of rainforest could eventually be handed over to logging companies. The Board of the Bank now has the chance to avert a major environmental and humanitarian disaster, and should not provide any further funding for forestry in DRC until there has been a thorough investigation as to how Bank staff could act with such blatant disregard for both the environment and the rights of the millions of people living in Congo's forest “.
ENDS
For further information:
Simon Counsell, Rainforest Foundation
T (office): +44 (0) 207 251 6345
T (Cell): +44 (0)7941 899 579
simonc@rainforestuk.com
Notes:
[1] In 2002, the Bank provided funding for the government of DRC to develop a new set of laws regulating the use of the country's forests. In September 2003, the Board of the Bank also approved a project entitled 'Emergency Economic and Social Reconstruction and Support Project', which included $4 million to start the process of 'zoning' DRC's forests, potentially opening up tens of millions of hectares for industrial logging. It is this latter project which is the main subject of the complaint by Congo's indigenous 'Pygmy' people, as Bank staff failed to 'trigger' the Bank's operational policy on indigenous people (OD 4.20) when developing the project.
[2] The complaint to the World Bank Inspection Panel was registered by the Chair of the Panel on December 1st. An English summary of the complaint by the Chair of the Panel can be found on the Rainforest Foundation's website at:
http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/s-World%20Bank%20Inspection%20Panel%20complaint%20summary%20and%20registration
The full (French language) complaint can be found on the Rainforest Foundation's website at:
http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/s-Complaint%20to%20World%20Bank%20Inspection%20Panel%20-%20Dec%2005
[3] The new Bank funding under consideration by the Bank Board on Thursday 8th December includes a project entitled 'Transitional Support for Economic Recovery'. This is 'development policy lending' which Bank documentation shows is to be linked to further implementation of the Bank's programme for development of DRC's forests.
[4] The full text of the Rainforest Foundation's letter to the Executive Directors of the Bank can be found at:
http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/s-RF%20and%20FoE%20letter%20to%20World%20Bank%20Board%20re%20DRC%20-%20Dec%2005

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