This year, the Global Peatlands Initiative achieved a milestone result with the signing of the Brazzaville Declaration in March 2018. The Declaration is an unprecedented commitment for cooperation and concerted action for the protection of the globally important and regionally vital Congo Basin peatlands. The Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Indonesia, as key tropical peatland countries have agreed to work together with expert support from UN Environment and the Global Peatlands Initiative partners towards the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the largest transboundary peatland located in the Congo Basin, the Cuvette Centrale peatlands.
This concrete South-South collaboration between the Republic of Indonesia and Congolese governments is built on Indonesia’s experience in tackling their emission challenges from peatland degradation and fires and the lessons gained through the implementation of the UN-REDD programme over the years. These partner countries, through the Brazzaville Declaration, are embarking on implementing this groundbreaking commitment through cooperation and by involving different state and non-state actors, with a country visit planned from the Ministers to Indonesia this year.
From left; Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo, Minister for Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia Dr. Siti Nurbaya, Minister of Tourism and Environment for the Republic of Congo, Arlette Soudan-Nonault, and the UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim celebrate the signing of the Brazzaville Declaration.
Closely aligned to the UN-REDD programme, the Global Peatlands Initiative is a partnership between leading organisations and experts working on peatlands with the goal to protect, rewet and conserve the world’s carbon-rich peatlands from imminent land use threats such as oil mining, agriculture, infrastructure development and other activities that disrupt vital ecosystems from functioning healthily.
In order to inspire action and build confidence in the ambition of the Congolese governments to protect these valuable peatlands, experts and stakeholders from around the world shared their knowledge, experiences and ideas during the 3rd Meeting of the Partners of the Global Peatlands Initiative. This included showcasing best practices and lessons learned by a strong Indonesian delegation led by the Minister of Environment and Forestry, Ibu Siti herself.
At the heart of the Brazzaville Declaration is the commitment and intention to keep this global treasure wet and in-tact and to unveil the socio-economic and environmental importance of the Lac Télé and Lac Tumba to the communities who depend on them, and to the countries that are responsible for their management, as well as to the entire region.
During the opening of the ministerial segment of the meeting, the Executive Director of UN Environment Erik Solheim acknowledged that “this is one of the biggest environmental challenges of the century: how to keep the carbon in the ground, while at the same time unlocking the growth potential of this unique landscape and drastically improving local livelihoods. This will entail smarter land use management, and for this we need to make sure we work together to have the right solutions and put them into practice.”
Peatlands and REDD+
Implementing the Brazzaville Declaration has the potential to ‘lock in’ 30 gigatons of carbon estimated to be held in the Cuvette Centrale peatlands: this is equivalent to avoiding 15 years of emissions of the United States. But the benefits do not stop there. Protecting these peatlands will also unlock the multiple benefits of this unique ecosystem, and support the countries in protecting the ecosystem services it delivers and the unique, endangered and rare biodiversity that is housed there for the benefit of people both locally and regionally.
The Cuvette Central peatlands are forested peatlands found in the Congo basin storing up to 30 gigatons of carbon.
Conservation of and sustainable management of these peatlands will contribute to meeting the objectives of REDD+ that go beyond reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, but also valuing the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
As we continue to close in on the emissions gap since ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2017, peatland ecosystems must not be left behind in the global dialogue. With the window of opportunity becoming shorter, keeping peatlands wet is necessary to make the vision of the Paris Agreement a reality.
For more information contact:
Global Peatlands Coordinator and UN-REDD Programme Management Officer