The Congo Basin represents the second largest tropical forest in the world in terms of area, after the Amazon Basin. This vast forest of 286 million hectares extends over six countries in Central Africa: the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, representing 6% of the world’s forest area.
It plays a crucial role in the stability of the global climate, with its forest cover and peatlands sequestering the equivalent of 10 years of global CO2 emissions. More than 10,000 species of tropical plants and endangered species are found in the region, including 30% endemic, such as forest elephants, plain and mountain gorillas, and okapis. In total, more than 400 species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds, and 700 species of fish are found there.
The Congo Basin is now deeply threatened by human action. Currently populated by 185 million people, the population is expected to double by 2050. Residential sprawl, small-scale agriculture, and infrastructure development will accelerate the deforestation process, in addition to industrial activities. The area is rich in natural resources, involving the exploitation of minerals, some of which are highly demanded by the technology and digital industry, wood, precious stones, and oil, whose oil contracts, not yet exploited, have been awarded in protected areas of the zone.
From a political and technical point of view, it appears to be the most structured ecosystem. At the request of the Heads of State, expressed during the Yaoundé Declaration in 1999, the Central African countries have established the first political and technical instance for orientation, coordination, harmonization, and decision-making on the conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems and savannas in Central Africa. In 2005, the Central African countries adopted the first convergence plan for the harmonization, sub-regional cooperation, development, and strengthening of policies for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems and biodiversity. To ensure active participation of countries in the process of operationalizing the mechanisms provided for and to assert their interests with regard to the crucial role played by natural ecosystems in the Congo Basin in maintaining and regulating global ecological balance, the Central African countries, under the joint impetus of President Sassou-Nguesso and King Mohammed VI, host of COP 22, established the Congo Basin Climate Commission (CCBC) in 2016 under the auspices of the African Union, including all states in the extended Congo River basin and neighboring basins of the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Morocco, an original associate member. Its objective is to accelerate the implementation of climate transition and economic transformation of the Congo Basin in a logic of sustainable development.