The Democratic Republic of Congo can play a key role in protecting the environment and traditional lifestyles in Africa. The Congo Basin spans six countries and is home to the second largest rainforest in the world, much of which lies within the DRC. The rich tropical forest sustains many traditional communities. However, the region also faces threats to communities and key ecosystems because it is a highly coveted destination for mining, forestry, and agribusiness.
Public interest advocates in the DRC face increasing challenges, so ELAW and partners at the Centre Congolaise pour le Droit du Développement Durable (Congolese Center for Law and Sustainable Development, CODED) co-hosted a two-day meeting earlier this week for lawyers and activists working across the DRC. We aimed to equip them with legal and scientific tools and expertise to strengthen their work.
CODED’s Erick Kassongo and I co-hosted the event. ELAW Staff Scientists Drs. Mercedes Lu and Mark Chernaik presented key information about how to review EIAs and reveal flaws in proposed projects. They were joined by Dr. Gilles Wendling, a hydrogeologist collaborating with ELAW. Nchunu Justice Sama from the Foundation for Environment and Development (FEDEV) in Cameroon and Pascal Tenguiano from Le Centre d’Excellence du Droit de l’Environnement (CEDE) in Guinea shared lessons from practicing public interest law in their countries.
Despite the challenges faced by advocates in the DRC, we take heart from the shared resolve to protect ecosystems and communities. I am happy that we were able, despite the pandemic, to meet to talk about what unites us, and we look forward to building on our collaboration to strengthen advocates across the DRC.