Green Economy



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Side view of an extensive palm oil plantation in the south of Cameroon
© David Hoyle

A green economy for the Congo Basin

After years of slow economic development linked to political instability and lack of infrastructure, Central African countries entered a new phase of accelerated growth. This economic emergence is based primarily on sectors such as extractive industries, infrastructures and agribusinesses.
 
Such models potentially include high risks for habitat and species conservation. Changes in land use directly impacts the precious and fragile forest ecosystems. Unsustainable mining generates pollution that threatens freshwater and food supplies, while  human settlements along newly built roads in previously pristine areas carry  a litany of threats for the environment, including poaching and illegal encroachment on  protected areas.
 
However, by taking some appropriate measures and respecting international standards for sustainable businesses and industries, the impact of industrial development on ecosystems can be minimised, and economic growth in Central Africa can also help achieve important conservation objectives. This is called Green Economy. 
 / ©: Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF CARPO
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF CARPO

What is "Green Economy"?

Unlike conventional economic thinking, a green economy takes into account  the value of nature and the services it provides. According to the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), “A green economy results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” 

A green economy is one where: 
• Natural capital is maintained and restored
• Renewable energy and low-carbon technologies replace fossil fuels
• Resources and energy are used as efficiently as possible
• Urban living is more sustainable
• People use low-carbon forms of transportation
• Natural  resources and related benefits are shared more fairly.

OUR OBJECTIVE

 
WWF’s objective is to help business dynamics fit the conservation objectives in the Congo Basin and advocate for preservation of the region’s natural capital which can provide equitable benefits to all. 


WHAT WE DO

 
At international levels WWF lobbies financial institutions and major firms to promote sustainable practices with reduced environmental impact as well as more transparency and equity in the decision-making process.
 
In Central Africa, we work with regional bodies such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) and the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) to address key sectors such as extractives industries, infrastructures and agribusinesses such as palm oil, and we promote Green Economy as a normative framework for all such activities.  
 
At country  levels, we work with governments to ensure that national development policies and land-use planning processes take biodiversity conservation into account, and that agreed land-use planning is respected.
 
We engage with the private sector to promote international environmental and social standards such as the “Equator Principles”, an environmental risk management framework, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which guarantees environmental, social and economic sustainability of logging activities, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which helps minimise  the impact of agro-industries.
 
Inside and around extractive sites, WWF works with companies to:
  • Identify critical conservation areas and establish “no-go zones”
  • Support wildlife management plans
  • Combat poaching 
At community levels, we engage with businesses planning major developments to ensure they carry out proper consultations and obtain the free, prior and informed consent of communities who are affected. When agribusiness and mining concessions are attributed/operational , we keep on monitoring companies so that they respect their corporate social responsibility commitments. 
 

THREATS

1. Overlapping land-uses

2. Raise in poaching, due to better access to previously remote areas:  roads make it easier for poachers to reach animals in remote areas, and help fuel the bushmeat trade.

3. Unsustainable human settlements, which lead to habitat degradation and destruction

4. Pollution, generated by mines, which affects freshwater supplies and directly threatens millions of people living in the Congo Basin

5. Unsustainable artisanal mining, which destroys forest ecosystems
 / ©: wwfccpo
Construction of the deep sea port in Cameroon
© wwfccpo

RESOURCE CORRIDORS

Resource corridors heavy infrastructure development (ports, roads, railways) connecting extractive sites multiplies the amount of threats to  the environment. WWF works with governments and the private sector to implement mitigation plans along these “resource corridors” and create consensus amongst stakeholders on minimising environmental impacts of businesses and industries on the Congo Basin’s key landscapes.