France urged to champion Virunga at Francophonie Summit



Posted on 12 October 2012  | 
Leaders of French speaking nations are gathering Oct 12-14 in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a high-level meeting of the International Organization of the Francophonie. At least 20 heads of state are expected at the summit to discuss economic interests and other issues.

Host country President Joseph Kabila is expected to present DRC’s oil reserves as an investment opportunity to potential investors. Authorization for oil exploration in DRC’s Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site, has been widely condemned by conservationists and UNESCO.

President François Hollande of France will be in attendance at the Kinshasa meeting. French oil giant Total is currently operating in a concession that overlaps with Virunga National Park.

UNESCO has said that oil development is incompatible with World Heritage status. Large portions of the park now risk being de-gazetted by the DRC government so that drilling can proceed.

WWF-France has sent a strong message on Virunga to the French government delegation. Although Total has said it does not intend to drill for oil within Virunga National Park, it has refused to assure the global community that it will respect the park’s existing boundaries regardless of future de-gazettement.

WWF is asking Hollande to reinforce to Kabila and Total the value of keeping Virunga intact and free from oil extraction.
Protest against oil exploration in Virunga National Park at Total annual meeting in Paris.
© WWF / Martin Leers Enlarge

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