In a landmark event hosted on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 by the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), the Gabonese Ministry of Water, Forests, Seas, and Environment in charge of climate change and land use planning and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, Gabon was officially recognized as the first African country to receive result-based payments for carbon emission reductions. The $17 million payment is part of a historic agreement between Gabon and Norway signed in September 2019 at the Climate Action Summit in New York for a total of $150 million over ten years.
Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn declared "Gabon has demonstrated that with strong vision, dedication and drive, emissions reduction can be achieved in the Congo Basin forest."
According to Professor Lee White, Gabon's Minister of Water and Forests, Seas, Environment, Climate Change and Land Management, CAFI's recognition of their monitoring system and data is particularly encouraging in that they are a global reference for payments on emissions reduction.
Gabon and the CAFI Secretariat have agreed that the first payment will support activities that further decrease CO2 emissions through investments in:
● Training of government agents and private sector employees to implement and monitor national certification standards
● Support to the Forestry Law Enforcement Unit to reduce illegal activity
● Develop community forests initiatives throughout Gabon
● Improve the national parks agency’s (ANPN) capacity for rapid deployment to monitor park encroachment by land and air
● Promote plant production and conservation at national botanical gardens and the National Herbarium
● Increase national capacity and understanding of the effects of climate change on Gabon’s ecosystems via the National Climate Council (CNC), Gabon Space Agency (AGEOS), National Natural Resources and Forestry Observation System (SNORNF)
It is in this context that UNDP is supporting Gabon as an implementing agency for the CAFI-2 program in two main fields: protected areas and agriculture. UNDP supports the CNC’s scientific research, and works closely with the ANPN in the recruitment of eco-guards, mapping of protected areas, and creation of a transboundary park with Congo, as well as the Agricultural Development Agency of Gabon (ADAG) in land use optimization to lessen impact on forested areas.
On 11 June, UNDP together with the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, laid the foundation stone for the building that will house the Geographic Information System and the soil analysis laboratory and handed over 3 Toyota Land Cruisers. UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Francis James, reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to its government partners to promote and sustain durable forest management in Gabon.