Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba hosted his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Libreville with several Central African heads of state at a summit on the protection of tropical rainforests, at the start of a four-day tour of the region. “There is no better investment today than investing in our forests,” says Bongo at the One Forest Summit, co-organised by France and Gabon.
His comments came before several heads of state were due to attend the One Forest Summit in Libreville, which will focus on preserving rainforests that play a vital role in the global climate system.
The forests of the vast Congo River basin represent the planet’s second-largest carbon sink after the Amazon.
They are also home to huge biodiversity including forest elephants and gorillas, and bear traces of the settlement of early humanity.
But they face threats such as poaching, deforestation for the oil, palm and rubber industries, and illegal logging and mineral exploitation.
Other presidents expected to attend the summit are host Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon; Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville; Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic; Chad’s Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno; and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.
The gathering kicked off on Wednesday with exchanges between ministers, civil society representatives and experts.
Macron heads to Angola on Friday, where he is set to sign an accord to develop the agricultural sector as part of a drive to enhance French ties with anglophone and Portuguese-speaking Africa.
He then stops in the Republic of Congo, where he will meet with president Denis Sassou Nguesso , and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.