Cablegate: Greenpeace, Rainforest Foundation, Global

DE RUEHKI #1095/01 3501216
R 161216Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Greenpeace, Rainforest Foundation, Global
Witness Blast World Bank over DRC Forest Policy

1. (U) Summary: In an eight -page "open letter" to the World Bank,
co-signed by Greenpeace Africa, Rainforest Foundation UK, Rainforest
Foundation Norway and Global Witness, the four agencies raised
wide-ranging questions to the World Bank regarding the forest policy
reform program in the DRC. In the letter entitled "The World Bank
and the Forest Sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a Cover
Up?" the watchdog NGOs asserted that the Bank had not implemented
several important elements following the conversion of industrial
logging titles completed in early 2009, and that the new $64 million
Bank IDA Forest Sector project approved by the Bank's Board earlier
this year has not supported good forest governance. It generally
raises questions about lack of transparency, asserts a rise in
social conflict between logging concessions and local communities,
hints that the moratorium on logging concessions has not been
respected by the GDRC and asks a rhetorical question as to whether
the Bank investment in logging sector reform is money well spent.
End Summary.

Can they do anything right?

2. (U) The eight-page letter is divided into four topical areas with
numerous assertions and questions under each category, with each
section describing what the NGOs view as a long series of Bank
failures in designing and implementing forest sector reform in the
DRC. It rehashes a long litany of the Bank's purported errors and
misguided policies in the forestry sector, mainly citing a lengthy
list of press releases and "studies." The letter invokes the 2007
independent Bank Inspection Panel Report which found that the Bank
did not follow its own internal policies regarding "indigenous
people's" and includes references to 45 different documents,
previous press releases, studies and other documents on the subject.
The first of four general categories is a long discussion, with
specific examples cited, that the required stoppage of all logging
activities by the cancelled title holders is not being respected.
Furthermore, that logs from the cancelled permits were marketed
after the permitted period and that in some cases logging is still
continuing in the cancelled holdings. The second point is that the
forest governance systems planned under the new Bank grant such as
an independent observer, a log tracking system, and a planned
contract to a private firm to verify legal timber has not yet been
put in place. (Comment: It is true that the DRC government has not
made public its actions to seize assets and close down the
concessions, but this is more a result of a lack of capacity and
resources than an attempt to foster illegal activities. End

3. (U) The letter further asserts that the lack of these controls
has created fears among local communities and conflicts between
logging companies and communities over social contracts and rights
of the communities over the forests. The letter then asks a number
of pointed questions of the Bank about whether certain controls
included in the Bank project document (PAD) have really been
implemented and if not, what the Bank intends to do to ensure that
the project is carried out according to its design. The third point
questions whether in fact there has really been a moratorium on the
granting of new logging concession as required by Bank
conditionality, citing "civil society" reports that artisanal
Qconditionality, citing "civil society" reports that artisanal
logging and other types of exploitation are occurring without
permits. The letter implies then, that artisanal logging de facto
constitutes an expansion of logging activities in violation of the
moratorium agreement. (Comment: The "civil society reports" cited
are mainly from the newly established Greenpeace Congo office, with
few if any reports from local or national NGOs as inferred. End

4. (U) The four signatory NGOs fundamentally question whether
logging is a viable economic sector for the DRC, citing the
minuscule amount of tax revenue projected for the year 2015 from
logging taxes, which they assert is estimated at $17 million against
the tens of millions the Bank is granting to the DRC to manage the
sector. (Comment: while the projected "area tax" revenue is indeed
$17 million, based on the greatly reduced post-title conversion
logging concession area multiplied by the present "area tax" rate,
the figure ignores all the additional tax revenue potentially
generated by logging, which would certainly be a large multiple of
the "area tax" amount. End Comment) The open letter also invokes
the Bank Independent Inspection Panel Report from 2007 that found
that the Bank did not follow its internal policies related to the
protection of forest and "indigenous" peoples in the implementation
of forest policy reform and suggests that it may be following the
same course in the new project.

Forest Policy Reform a Prerequisite for REDD
--------------------------------------------- -

KINSHASA 00001095 002 OF 002

5. (U) The letter closes by scolding the Bank for squandering the
policy reform process, and it makes a case that the Bank itself is
not respecting its own norms, a situation similar to the case found
in the Independent Inspection Panel investigation. It then darkly
hints that if logging is allowed to continue, that the DRC may not
be eligible to participate in the Global Climate Change REDD
(Reduction of Deforestation and Degradation) payment schemes such as
the Bank's own Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. It exhorts the
Bank to do all within its power to preserve the large intact DRC
humid tropical forest from logging and to promote instead the
environmental services use of forest resources such as REDD.

6. (SBU) Comment: Greenpeace has long opposed industrial logging in
the Central Africa tropical forests; the Rainforest Foundation UK
raison d'etre is to advocate for indigenous peoples' rights, and the
Rainforest Foundation Norway played a major role in the Government
of Norway's decision to provide major financial support to promote
the REDD concept for tropical forests. Global Witness has been
active in the DRC forest sector, in part funded by the World Bank to
act as an Independent Observer during the early period of the forest
title conversions process. All of these groups have a long track
record of criticizing the Bank and the GDRC for mismanaging the
forest sector and putting "indigenous peoples" at risk.

7. (SBU) Comment continued: The Bank has had difficulty managing
the reform process, but the criticism of the Bank by the NGOs seems
to be more directed toward the GDRC. The letter's strong
undercurrent against industrial logging seems designed to discourage
commercial logging in lieu of REDD activities, which they assert
will bring more social benefits and preserve tropical forests.
While some of these points are valid, the NGOs ignore the well known
fact that the principal drivers of deforestation in the Congo Basin,
and particularly in the DRC, are millions of poor rural villagers
eking out a living through slash and burn agriculture, harvest of
trees to make firewood and charcoal for sale coupled with a lack of
any real management capacity over artisanal activities by the
government authorities. Deforestation mapping of the DRC confirms
that industrial logging is not currently a significant source of
deforestation in the DRC. Most donors active in the DRC support the
GDRC's efforts to reform the forestry sector as the country's second
largest private formal sector employer after mining and do not see a
necessary contradiction between logging and environmental services
payment schemes such as REDD. End Comment.


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