Earth’s ‘green lung’ rainforests take centre stage at talks in Gabon

© Amaury Hauchard, AFP

The sixth annual One Planet Summit begins on Wednesday, with the fate of forests at the top of the agenda. Politicians, scientists and NGOs will meet in Libreville, Gabon, to discuss the future of rainforests in the Congo basin, Southeast Asia and the Amazon basin – and whether countries in the Global North should finance the preservation of the Earth’s “green lungs”.

French President Emmanuel Macron will preside over the two-day conference from Libreville, in the heart of Africa’s “green lung”: more than 200 million hectares of forest spread over six countries, filled with biodiverse species found nowhere else in the world.

The One Planet Summit, launched by Macron, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and then World Bank president Jim Kim in 2017, will gather heads of state, NGOs and scientists in Gabon’s capital to discuss the best way to protect the vast tropical forest in the Congo basin as well as those in the Amazon basin and Southeast Asia.

This year’s gathering has been dubbed the One Forest Summit to reflect this focus.

“The decision to hold this summit in the Congo basin is significant because Central Africa’s tropical forest is one of the main carbon sinks on the planet,” says Alain Karsenty, forest economist and researcher at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and a Central Africa specialist.

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