in DR Congo

Why did the Democratic Republic of Congo send 340 delegates to COP23 in Bonn? And who paid?

According to the UNFCCC’s provisional list of registered parties, just over 19,000 people travelled to Bonn for this year’s climate negotiations, COP23. While that’s a huge number of people, it’s only about half of the number that travelled to Paris for COP21. Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, says that 28,800 people took part over the two weeks of meetings in Bonn.

Carbon Brief took a look at the numbers on the provisional list. 11,306 people at COP23 are part of country delegations, 1,633 are journalists, 4,660 are with NGOs, and 1,515 are from UN agencies, specialised agencies, and intergovernmental organisations.

The largest five delegations are all from Africa: Côte d’Ivoire (492), Guinea (355), the Democratic Republic of Congo (340), Congo (308), and Morocco (253).

This post looks at the delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sending 340 delegates from one of the poorest nations on the planet seems a little extravagant.

According to the website La Libre Afrique, per diems ranged from US$500 to US$1,000 for journalists, and “probably even more for important members of the delegation”.

One obvious question is where did the money come from for their flights, hotels, and per diems?

Another is what are all these people supposed to do while they are in Bonn?

Corporate capture

The UN climate meetings are wide open to corporate capture. A report by Corporate Accountability, put out just before COP23 started, states that “the pro-industry, anti-regulation agenda of global corporations is forcing a menu of false solutions into the center of Paris Agreement negotiations”.

Corporate influence has pushed the talks towards market-based trading mechanisms, and away from meaningful action to keep fossil fuels underground.

One example in Corporate Accountability’s report is the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). Members of IETA include BP, Chevron, BHP Biliton, Duke Energy and Rio Tinto. Andre Marcu, IETA’s former President and CEO, is on Panama’s delegation to COP23. On UNFCCC’s provisional list, he’s described as Market Mechanism Advisor for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

Several people on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s delegation are representatives of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations.

On 6 November 2017, Arnaud Labrousse, an independent researcher who has been investigating corruption and logging in the Congo Basin for 22 years, wrote to Kevin Conrad, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. Labrousse was interested in two of the people on the DRC delegation: Denise Akissi Isabelle Dje-Komenan; and Sengboni Te Litho.

Denise Dje-Komenan

In an earlier provisional list of COP23 delegates, Dje-Komenan is described as an adviser to the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. That seems odd, considering her business skills.

On her LinkedIn profile, Dje-Komenan describes herself as,

the Director of Denise Stevens which is a property portfolio-building company for High Net Worth Individuals based overseas and looking to purchase property in London.

I have over 12 years experience in property having built my own property portfolio, sourcing investment properties for clients and managing my own Property Management Company.

Dje-Komenan is currently a director of two companies in the UK: Invicitusdevelopments Ltd; and Denise Stevens Limited. According to her filings at Companies House, the UK registrar of companies, Dje-Komenan is French and lives in England. Her occupations are listed as Letting Agent, Business Shares Trader, and Property Consultant.

Sengboni Te Litho

On her twitter account, Sengboni Te Litho describes herself as “Gender expert @RainforestCoalition #DRC”. She managed to get the Twitter account for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations wrong. But it probably doesn’t matter too much, since the Coalition for Rainforest Nations hasn’t tweeted anything since 16 June 2011.

Te Litho works in PR. Her Twitter account links to a Facebook page for STL PR and Entertainment. I’ve not been able to find much about this company, apart from a handful of social media sites.

Te Litho arrived in Bonn on 11 November 2017.

The next day, she posted, on Facebook, the first 60 seconds of Arnold Schwarzenegger giving a speech in Bonn. “I love my job!” she wrote.

In the comments following the post, she explains that she’s “at the rainforest nations coalition” (sic):

Te Litho has an interesting family history. She was born in 1974. Her father was an agricultural engineer who died when she was eight.

Her mother is the twin sister of Bobi Ladawa, who was married to Mobutu Seke Seko, the kleptocratic military dictator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997. Te Litho’s mother, Kosia, was Mobutu’s mistress. Kosia gave birth to three of Mobutu’s children, one of whom was called Sengboni. Here are the twins Bobi and Kosia:

Te Litho describes Mobutu as a “strict, but awesome, father”.

In 1990, she moved to Switzerland. Then to Paris where she eventually got a business degree at the Paris ESLSCA Business School. She worked in PR and met the rich and famous. Then she moved to Brussels. Then back to Kinshasa.

Since 2012, Te Litho has lived in Rabat, Morocco. “I live with my mother, I don’t need money,” she told the Moroccan website Telquel.

She works as a personal shopper to rich Moroccans living in Kinshasa. “In Congo, the rich are looking to shop abroad,” she told Telquel. “But why go to Europe when there is Morocco? The prices are better, it’s nice.”

Some questions for Kevin Conrad

Arnaud Labrousse sent two questions to Kevin Conrad:

  1. Would you kindly indicate in what capacity Ms. Dje-Komenan is representing CfRN at COP23?
  2. Would you kindly indicate in what capacity Ms. Te Litho is representing CfRN at COP23?

So far Conrad has not replied. REDD-Monitor has resent Labrousse’s email to Conrad, and asked for an on the record response. REDD-Monitor asked Conrad four additional questions:

  1. Please provide a full list of all the Coalition for Rainforest Nations delegates in Bonn.
  2. What were each of their roles during COP23?
  3. Who funded their travel to Bonn, their hotel and food costs, and their per diems while they were there?
  4. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations website states that, “Audited financial information is available upon request”. Please send me a copy of the audited financial information for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

I look forward to posting Conrad’s response in full and unedited when it arrives.

UPDATE – 26 November 2017: Kevin Conrad replied to Arnaud Labrousse’s email on 20 November 2017. REDD-Monitor posted his response here. I also sent him a reminder that REDD-Monitor’s four questions remain unanswered.

PHOTO credit: Group picture of about 10% of the DRC delegation.

Leave a Reply

  1. Yeah, good luck waiting for that unedited audit to arrive…

    “Gender expert for everything” — is that a job title or a pick-up line?

    With everything that citizens in the Congo have been through, it’s tragic to see more of the same corruption.

  2. I really hope that Conrads response to your questions will published. Until that happens all delegates from the Coalition fof Rainforest Nations will be regarded with suspicion

  3. Disgraceful corruption by the DRC and the environmental elites. There are many real problems faced by the people of the DRC, which have feck all to do with a little extra atmospheric CO2. e.g. the people of Lodja in the remote Sankuru region who do not even have a hospital:

  4. What is being done to make Kevin Conrad answer the ?questions

  5. @Lilian nielsen – Conrad has answered Arnaud Labrousse’s two questions. You can read his response here. I also sent him a reminder that REDD-Monitor’s four questions remain unanswered.

    I’ve added an update to the end of the post above, explaining the current situation.