Increasing International Finance Flow to Sustain the Congo Basin's Forests

Posted on December, 04 2023

WWF, Climate Focus and COMIFAC's new discussion paper proposes strategies to mobilize international public and private finance to conserve Congo Basin forests.
Conserving the forests of the Congo Basin is key to achieving international climate and biodiversity goals. The world’s second largest tropical forest is located in the Congo Basin, spanning six countries – Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. In 2019, its total area was estimated to be about 180 million hectares, which includes the largest expanse of high-integrity forests worldwide. The Congo Basin is also home to the largest tropical peatlands in the world. Among the three largest tropical rainforests globally, only the Congo Basin forest has remained a strong net carbon sink, absorbing about 0.61 net gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) each year, approximately equivalent to the total annual greenhouse gas emissions of Canada. 

The dual goals of economic growth and forest conservation characterize Congo Basin countries’ policy context, but limited financial and technical resources challenge the implementation of robust green growth strategies. The climate and forest finance that the Congo Basin receives does not meet its needs, nor does it reflect the ecosystem and climate services it provides.

This discussion paper, produced jointly by WWF, Climate Focus and the Commission des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale (the Central African Forests Commission, or COMIFAC), proposes a preliminary set of strategies to mobilize international public and private finance to support the efforts of Congo Basin countries to conserve their forests and biodiversity while promoting sustainable development. The proposals provide governments, funders and other stakeholders guidance on possible options and approaches for mobilizing finance. 

The paper reviews and maps the current landscape of international finance mechanisms for forest conservation and development that are relevant for the Congo Basin, including emerging initiatives. It then presents an analysis of the potentials and limitations of the reviewed mechanisms, the challenges that are currently limiting  mobilization, and the possible strategies that could be adopted to scale international finance in the region. The report concludes by proposing six options to scale finance for sustainable development and forest conservation that are tailored to the Congo Basin.