in DR Congo

Shift2Neutral agreement in DR Congo “illegal”

Shift2Neutral agreement in DR Congo illegal. PHOTO: Greenpeace

In August 2010, Reuters reported that Shift2Neutral had “signed a deal aimed at protecting tropical forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as boosting renewable energy there.” Now, according to a letter dated 1 October 2010, from DR Congo’s Minister of Environment, José E. B. Endundo, the deal is “illegal” and “void”.

The letter, addressed to the the Chairman of the Board of Congo Investment and Environment Security (CIES), Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi, is available on the Ministry of Environment’s website and can be downloaded here (pdf file 1.8 MB – in French).

The following is a translation of the brief statement on Ministry of Environment’s website:

Letter from the Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism on the Granting of Forestry Concessions

In a letter to the Honourable Modeste Mutinga, the Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism, Jose Endundo, recalls that only the state can decide on the granting of forest concessions in all categories. This follows an agreement signed without effect by the company CIES with Shift2Neutral Pty Ltd, an Australian company wanting to promote carbon sequestration and which the Senator reports in a letter to the Minister.

Shift2Neutral apparently signed the deal in DR Congo with CIES. Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi, the Chairman of the Board of CIES, is a Senator and owner of one of DR Congo’s major newspapers, Le Potentiel. In 2000, he won an International Press Freedom Award for his work as a publisher and journalist. But according to a source, when the Shift2Neutral deal was signed, CIES was not a Ministry-approved consulting firm. It still isn’t.

Here’s a rough translation* of the Minister’s letter:

Democratic Republic of Congo
Ministry of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism

Kinshasa, 1 October 2010

No. 1961 /CAB/MIN/ECN-T/27/JEB/101

To the Honourable Senator Modeste MUTINGA Chairman of the Board of Directors of Congo Investment and Environment Security “CIES”
in Kinshasa/Lingwala

Re: Technical Board Approval
Acknowledgment of receipt

Honourable Senator,

I hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter referenced CIES/PSA/DG/006/2010 of 15 September, seeking common agreement by the Ministry of the consulting firm where you are the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In the same letter, I send the file to my technical services for study and action.

On the other hand, the memorandum of agreement signed with the Australian company Shift2Neutral Pty Ltd, I regret to inform you that it is null and void because of the commitments under the jurisdiction of the state. I need not remind you that in fact the Congolese forests as protected areas are owned by the State which alone can decide their fate.

If at your company benefited from a forestry concession, it could, after approval, engage in REDD in partnership with another company. That is not however the case.

You are not unaware that the signing of this Agreement has been the subject of a violent international campaign on the Internet and that the Ministry has repeatedly been questioned about it. The Ministry is therefore obliged in turn to release through the same channels, the information declaring the agreement illegal and therefore void.

With my regrets repeated, I beg you to believe, Honourable Senator, the assurance of my highest consideration.

José E. B. Endundo

Here’s a rough translation* of Modeste Mutinga’s letter to the Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism:

Congo Investment and Environment Security
Consulting firm

NRC: KG/7418/M

Kinshasa, 15 September 2010

N/Ref: CIES/PCA/DG/006/2010

His Excellency the Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism, Kinshasa-Gombe.

Re: Our identification


The honour falls to me to come to solicit the identification of the consulting firm “CIES Consulting” by your ministry, as an environmental operator.

In fact, CIES Consulting is a private company (SPRL) of which the object is, among others, environmental improvement, management and protection, etc. it is in this framework that we signed a memorandum of agreement with the SHIFT2NEUTRAL Pty Ltd company established in Australia.

As we stressed during the interview with the Director of your office, and the Director of the Department of Sustainable Development, Mr. Vincent KASULU, and convinced that the national process REDD is the exclusive competence of the government, we could only address your high authority with the intention of bringing our expertise as well as that of our partner in the work of awareness raising, monitoring and of protection that you began in the framework of GTCR [Groupe de Travail Climate REDD].

We remain open to the Interdepartmental Committee for REDD for any additional information and recommendations necessary for the realisation of our project.

In the hope that this request will retain your best attention, we ask you to believe, your Excellency the Minister, the expression of our frank collaboration.

Chairman of the Board

* ^^ N.B. This translation was done using google translate and my badly remembered schoolboy French. It is not an official translation and I would welcome any corrections.

Back to text ^^

UPDATE – 8 October 2010: Added my translation of Modeste Mutinga’s letter to the Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism. N.B. The note above applies to this translation as well. I would welcome any corrections to the translation.

Back to text ^^

Leave a Reply

  1. Dear Sir/Madam

    I am very surprised that the senator’s letter was written in the middle of September and the acknowledgement of receipt occurred only in the beginning of October. It seems that someone first complained through the internet which pushed the Congolese minister to react. I’ve read the letter that honorable Mutinga wrote to the ministry. I’m following this situation closely. It will be fair to post and also translate the letter of Mr. Mutinga addressed to the ministry. This senator owns lands in the rich province of Western Kasai in the DRC. If his agreement with Shift2Neutral is concerning the private land he owns, then Mr. Mutinga and Shift2Neutral have done nothing wrong.
    My suggestion: to avoid some players or syndicates to sideline the others it will be better that each developing country allows 2 or 3 Carbon Credit players to compete for the interest of the people in the ground.

  2. @Edouard – Thanks for this comment. A press release about the Shift2Neutral deal in DR Congo appeared on 24 August 2010:

    Shift2Neutral Sign Environment and Renewable Energy Agreement with Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    Reuters wrote about it on 25 August 2010:

    Australia firm signs Congo carbon offsets deal.

    REDD-Monitor posted a summary of the available information on 27 August 2010:

    Shift2Neutral’s big REDD deal in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    So, it seems perhaps a little strange that Senator Mutinga only wrote to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism in mid-September, more than two weeks after the deal with Shift2Neutral was signed.

    According to the 24 August 2010 press release, “This agreement will extend to all the stakeholders of the vast Congolese (Democratic Republic) territory (2,345,000 square km) as progressively through the process and advantages of the project for their urban and rural populations.” So it seems unlikely that the deal only covers Senator Mutinga’s land in Western Kasai.

    REDD-Monitor asked Brett Goldsworthy a series of questions about the deal, but he declined to answer.

    I agree that it would be good to translate and post Modeste Mutinga’s letter – the only reason I didn’t was because my French is not good enough (and google translate left too many sentences unreadable in the English translation). I’ll try to find someone to translate it and post it as an update.

  3. As someone who worked for Brett Goldsowrthy for 12 months I can assure that Shift2Neutral:
    * Has long claimed affiliation to the World Bank despite never having such affiliation
    * Self certifies certificates without any offsets
    * Has no scientific credibility
    * Has no buyers of carbon credits and no credibility
    * IS part of a stable companies set up by Goldsworthy to defraud businesses and individuals of money in Goldworthy’s favour

    Any interview you would achieve with Goldsworthy would be interesting – the man is alternately convincing, cunning, stupid, evasive and irate.