in DR Congo

Mai Ndombe REDD programme in DRC poses serious risks to people living in the province – Rainforest Foundation UK and US letter to the World Bank

Tomorrow (28 August 2017), a meeting is planned at the World Bank. On the agenda is whether to give internal approval for the Mai Ndombe integrated REDD programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahead of the meeting, Rainforest Foundation UK and US have written to the Bank asking that the programme not be approved.

The letter (available in full below) is addressed to staff at the World Bank, including Ellysar Baroudy, the coordinator for the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the FCPF Secretariat, senior forestry and environment staff, and Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye, the Bank’s Country Director for DRC. Copies went to staff at: Norway’s Climate and Environment Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Department for International Development and Department of Energy and Climate Change; Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; the UNDP; and Environmental Defence Fund’s Chris Meyer, the Northern civil society observer at the FCPF and Carbon Fund.

On 17 June 2016, the World Bank held a meeting to review the DRC’s Project Concept Note on its REDD programme. At the meeting the Bank’s Country Director gave a “green light to proceed with project preparation leading to ERPA signature”. That’s according to a presentation by Laurent Valiergue at the Carbon Fund’s 14th meeting in Paris, 20-22 June 2016. Valierque is the Task Team Leader, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice at the World Bank.

This was supposed to be a World Bank “due diligence” process, but in fact the FCPF accepted, without further questions, the DRC’s self-assessment that the country was “ready for REDD”. As Rainforest Foundation UK and US’s letter and backup documents clearly show, the Bank’s “due diligence” was woefully inadequate.

Attached to the letter from Rainforest Foundation UK and US are the following documents:

The photograph above, incidentally, is of benefit distribution in the Forest Investment Programme in DRC. Rainforest Foundation UK comments that, “In one of the most corrupt and lawless of countries, cash is carried around the country and distributed to project chiefs in wads of notes.” What could possibly go wrong?

From: Simon Counsell
Date: 24 August 2017
Subject: Mai Ndombe Carbon Fund – PIREDD – programme, DRC
To: World Bank staff

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to ask that the World Bank does not approve the Mai Ndombe integrated REDD programme in DRC (PIREDD) at this time, and to investors to ensure that Emissions Reductions Purchase Agreement (ERPA) negotiations do not begin until such time as it can be demonstrated that the programme poses no risks to people living in the Province.

We understand there is a meeting at the World Bank planned on August 28th where internal approval for the programme will be sought, effectively kick-starting negotiations on ERPA between the FCPF Carbon Fund and the Government of DRC. We still have profound concerns about the risks of this proposed program to people and forests, and are not at all convinced that the due diligence and safeguards plans are adequately addressing these risks:

Safeguard documents.
Our analysis found these to be deficient in a number of ways including that they do not function as a coherent whole, lack clarity over how safeguards will be enforced and monitored and put forward no credible plan for addressing chronically weak institutional capacity.

Benefit sharing mechanism.
Separate analyses by the Congolese civil society platform GTCRR and international NGOs of the draft benefit sharing plan found it to lack even the most basic information such as on what the objectives and scope of the benefits are, who gets rewarded, why, under what conditions, for how long, and in what proportions. What little information the draft does include gives little explanation of how any benefits will be distributed in an equitable and transparent fashion. There appears to be no legal basis of any kind for benefit sharing in DRC REDD projects, including the local development committees (CLDs).

Feedback, grievance and redress mechanism.
As far as we know, there is no FGRM in place or even described yet that could provide recourse in the event of violation of safeguards, failure to distribute benefits or any other matter.

More detail of all our concerns is provided in the attached documents but the overall message is that much more work is needed on safeguards, benefit sharing, land tenure and a grievance mechanism before this program is compliant with the methodological framework.

In addition to this, we are concerned that any negotiations should commence at a time when oversight of the programme is at risk of being eroded by two possible developments. The first relates to the planned restructuring of the multi-stakeholder CN-REDD to become a technical unit of the Environment Ministry, which we fear could move decision making about PIREDD behind closed doors. The second concerns rumours circulating that the final ERPA (if it is to be signed) may not be fully disclosed. Of course this would be against the principles of the Carbon Fund and would also be illegal under Congolese law which requires disclosure of all natural resource contracts signed by government (see attached law).

Given the above, we believe it would be a mistake for the World Bank to approve the programme at this time and to move ahead with the signing of the ERPA until the many concerns outlined in the briefings are properly addressed and also clarity is given on the future status of the CNREDD as well as on the public disclosure of the ERPA. This conclusion also applies to any financing of operations from the Government of Norway, through CAFI, to the PIREDD-Mai Ndombe.

Lastly, we stress the point that negotiations should not, we believe, be based on promised or hoped-for actions on the part of the DRC government, as has been the practice with the approval of the R-PP, ERPIN and ERPD documents to date. It is our understanding from the World Bank Legal Department that advanced payments cannot be made until all conditions precedent on the ERPA are satisfied; including additional conditionality in the ERPA would not be a way to speed up the process of addressing these concerns, which should be addressed before formal negotiations commence.

Proceeding with negotiations when there are so many unknowns would send the wrong message to the estimated 1.4 million people living in the programme area and give the impression that the FCPF Carbon Fund is more concerned with disbursing funds than improving forest governance.


Simon Counsell
Executive Director, Rainforest Foundation UK

Josh Lichtenstein
Rainforest Foundation US

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