In the wake of COP15 on biodiversity, and the commitment of the international community to protect 30% of natural areas between now and 2030, more than 20 countries representative of the great forest basins met in Libreville, surrounded by African forest, for a One Forest Summit dedicated to seeking solutions to protect tropical forests, with the scientific community, African youth, business leaders, indigenous peoples and senior staff from UNESCO, the IUCN, the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund all present.

Overview of the Libreville Plan:

  • A fair agreement between forest countries and the international community, to reconcile environmental ambition with economic development.
  • A hallmark initiative to protect the most vital carbon and diversity reserves: Positive Conservation Partnerships (PCPs), with an initial budget of €100 million, and a mechanism to remunerate exemplary countries via “biodiversity credits”.
  • An emblematic scientific project called “One Forest Vision”, to measure the net balance of carbon sequestration and accurately map the most vital carbon and biodiversity reserves in the Amazon, Africa and Asia over the next five years.
  • A 10by30 strategy for business leaders in the three forest basins to generate 10 million jobs by 2030 in activities related to sustainable exploitation of tropical forests, and a series of tangible corporate commitments.

The spirit of Libreville: a fair agreement between the international community and forest States

Following on from COP15, we need a fair agreement between the international community, the future of which depends on the conservation of carbon sinks and biodiversity, and forest countries, which rightly wish to reconcile environmental ambitions and economic prosperity for their peoples.

This agreement is founded on five fundamental pillars, strongly voiced at Libreville:

  1. A political commitment - We will not win the fight against climate change without tropical forests, which are one of the world’s key carbon sinks. We must urgently stop and reverse deforestation by 2030.
  2. A principle of cohabitation between humans and nature - Protecting forests requires a vast selection of tools, ranging from strong protection such as national parks to methods of sustainable management of natural resources. A protected forest, which maintains and increases its carbon sequestration rate, remains open to people. A protected forest is one that is sustainably managed and benefits local populations.
  3. Environmental ambition working for people - Protecting forests also provides economic opportunity: the potential of the bioeconomy and local and sustainable transformation of forest products is huge. But deforestation is currently a threat to people: destroying forests upsets the water cycle, degrades land and diminishes genetic diversity, an inestimable source of innovation and knowledge.
  4. Protecting what is vital - Certain vital carbon and biodiversity reserves warrant a high level of protection because their degradation would have irreversible consequences. This is case for mangroves, peat bogs and certain primary forests, home to what are called umbrella species because they alone support ecosystems (gorillas, orangutans, elephants, jaguars, etc.).
  5. Remunerating forest countries for providing services to the rest of the world - Developing forest countries that have high aims for nature and are working to achieve these aims should be remunerated by the international community.

Commitment by all actors to replace natural capital at the centre of our economy

To fulfil our commitments, international solidarity must be increased, and we need to demonstrate that environmental ambition is synonymous with economic prosperity. The One Forest Summit is the first international summit to focus discussions on promoting natural capital. It is a challenge for forest countries, and for the global economy, which must stop seeing nature as a free, inexhaustible good.

To translate this approach into tangible actions, four major communities of stakeholders met in Libreville to make commitments:

  • The scientific community launched the One Forest Vision project, which aims to gain more knowledge about the value of the forest, by mapping out the vital carbon and global biodiversity reserves in the next five years, and measuring the level of carbon sequestration in rainforests.
  • Some fifty business leaders, who came together within a “One Forest Business Forum”, launched the 10by30 initiative, which aims to create 10 million jobs in activities linked to sustainable management of forests by 2030. This vision should accelerate the transition to the bioeconomy and local transformation, which generate much more income for local populations. Several businesses made concrete announcements in that area, which you can read about in the annex.
  • Gabon, France and Canada launched an intergovernmental platform on the sustainable use of wood and bio-based materials in construction, to help replace concrete and cement in the years to come and in particular to transform African urbanization strategies. Nine countries decided to join this coalition (Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Zambia, France, Gabon and Canada).
  • On the basis of recommendations made by a group of experts coordinated by the Global Environment Facility, a multi-stakeholder coalition of States, investors, certifying bodies and non-governmental organizations, launched a Libreville work plan to accelerate the structuring of a market for carbon credits of very high environmental and social quality, for projects or national policies and initiatives.
  • Indigenous populations are the rainforest’s primary guardians, through their knowledge and ancestral traditions, and also through the unique relationship that they can attest to between humans and nature. Uganda, France and Gabon are launching a One Forest Guardian, to propose to interested countries that these practices, of inestimable value for the future of humanity, be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List by 2024.
  • Young representatives and leaders from the Congo basin organized the One Forest Youth Summit in order to put forward recommendations and solid project proposals to Heads of State and Government to promote conservation and sustainable management of rainforests.

Protecting what is vital: Positive Conservation Partnerships

This initiative, launched at COP27, offers a political and financial “contract” to countries that agree to keep vital carbon and biodiversity reserves in their territory intact. These partnerships involve an investment plan for the protection of carbon and biodiversity reserves and aim to prevent deforestation.

The One Forest Summit brought progress on PCPs, in the form of a three-phase schedule.

  1. The political commitment phase. The countries with the most vital carbon and biodiversity reserves can commit to protect them with the support of the secretariat of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC). This is the first step towards generating much more significant finance from the international community.
  2. The implementing phase. This provides forest countries with financial resources and technological and scientific tools under the One Forest Vision partnership, as well as economic solutions via the 10by30 initiative.
  3. The compensation phase. This rewards services to the rest of the world: in return for their commitment, the international community will provide forest countries with more finance, as well as a compensation mechanism for the services provided, including carbon sequestration, by the preserved natural reserves. Based on rigorous monitoring of the implementation of these commitments and their results, the PCP initiative aims to create a compensation mechanism for the services provided by forest countries: committed States would produce “biodiversity certificates” that could be purchased by sovereign States or private actors as a positive contribution to the protection of nature.

Based on the recommendations of the Global Environment Facility, the aim will be to sketch out the form of this new innovative financing tool, tied in with carbon credits (one tree planted, one tree saved) and with a view to guaranteeing the full environmental integrity of a potential biodiversity certificates market.

Lastly, in order to swiftly initiate PCPs and to ensure tangible results by COP28 in Dubai, France, Conservation International and the Walton Family Foundation are announcing the creation of a first PCP contracts investment of €100 million.