DRC: Civil Society protests against oil exploration in the Salonga & Virunga National Parks

Posted on 28 May 2018
Aerial view of the Salonga forest
© Karine Aigner / WWF US
On Thursday, May 24 , 2018, at CEPAS - the Center for Studies for Social Action - in       Gombe, Kinshasa, a hundred of NGOs, members of the DRC Environmental Civil Society, invited media  people to publicly sign and read a petition to recall the illegal nature of oil exploration and/or extractive activities in two national parks, Salonga & Virunga. They officially announced the launch of a campaign at the local level to sensitize populations living in & around these parks, but also at the national and international levels.
Even if nothing has not been formally and officially decided by Kinshasa, but more and more voices are rising against oil exploration as well as  exploitation, and the partial degazettement of these two national parks, the Salonga and Virunga, two Unesco World Heritage sites.
‘’Allowing oil production in these sites means forgetting all about nature conservation in the DRC. If we lose both sites, there will be no more nature conservation in the country’’, said the representative of the Environmental Civil Society to the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Rene Ngongo.
These words express the DRC environmental Civil Society's concerns over the government's decision to partially displace the boundaries of the Salonga and Virunga national parks, to conduct oil exploration and exploitation.
Through this action, the DRC Environmental Civil Society recalled that the country has made international commitments in the framework of environmental conservation. «The country submitted these sites to be registered as World heritage sites. To take such a decision today, the DRC will have to respect commitments and agreements the country adhered to and which manage this sector ", said the members of the civil society, noting that these two sites have been on UNESCO's World Heritage list for several decades.
While raising the harmful and unavoidable impacts of this type of activity within the current limits of these two national parks, the DRC environmental civil society recommends to the government, particularly to the permanent Economy, Finance and Reconstruction interdepartmental Commission, to stop the process of altering the boundaries of national parks and Unesco sites.
The NGOs also expect the government to make effort to finalize international commitments on climate, forests and biodiversity, to strengthen the legal framework for oil exploration and exploitation in the DRC to ensure the environment protection and Communities rights.
Also, they urged the private sector, including extractive and oil companies, to respect international environmental standards that prohibit any oil exploration and exploitation operations in World Heritage sites, to engage in social dialogue with communities living around before the launch of any such project in the country, to carry out environmental and social impact studies before such a consensual transaction.
For further details, contact :
Aerial view of the Salonga forest
© Karine Aigner / WWF US Enlarge