For Immediate Release
Washington DC: (202) 462-1177
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Congo's Forest Protector receives Right Livelihood Award
Africa Political Advisor and civil society activist for 18 years, today
receives the Right Livelihood Award at the Swedish Parliament for his
dedicated, and at times dangerous, work in defending the rights and
livelihood of Democratic Republic of Congo’s forest communities. Rene
continued his advocacy this week with a joint open letter to the World
Bank criticizing their policies that encourage industrial logging in
courage in confronting the forces that are destroying the Congo's
rainforests and building political support for their conservation and
“I humbly receive this honour on behalf of many of the DRC’s poor
communities for whom the forest is a source of livelihood, a
supermarket, a pharmacy and an heirloom,” said Rene. “If we do not
continue to raise our voices against the destruction of these ancient
forests, their future and our very own existence is at stake.”
“René Ngongo is a real leader, one who has acted to protect the DRC
forests and to protect its people. Just days before the beginning of
the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit this award signals the critical
importance of working to save the world’s forests, not only for the
people who depend on them, but also for their role in preventing
catastrophic climate change. World leaders must work together to end
deforestation as a critical step in any climate saving deal. In the
end, it is real leaders who act - politicians just talk,” said Dr. Kumi
Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director
Yesterday, Ngongo, together with his colleagues at Greenpeace,
Global Witness and The Rainforest Foundation, sent a joint open letter
to the World Bank (1), principal financier of Congolese forest reform.
The letter exposes the environmental and social chaos caused by
multinational timber companies in DRC and criticizes the Bank’s role in
promoting industrial logging of rainforests in the name of development.
The NGOs insist that the Bank instead needs to ‘promote viable
alternatives that benefit the Congolese people and the global climate’.
The World Bank’s position in favor of logging may also influence the
REDD (2) climate negotiations under the guise of so-called ‘sustainable
forest management’. REDD, as part of the UNFCCC negotiations in
Copenhagen, must on the contrary exclude incentives for more forest
destruction, such as industrial logging and conversion of forests into
plantations and should provide a reliable fund to promote alternatives.
Ngongo has dedicated his life to activism. In the midst of raging
conflict, he tirelessly pushed for an end to illegal exploitation of
his country’s natural resources, collecting abundant evidence on timber
and mineral extraction under sometimes life-threatening conditions. In
1994, Ngongo founded DRC’s influential environment organization, OCEAN
(3). Ngongo (4) has been able to build a strong network and momentum
for better protection of the world’s second largest rainforest.
Greenpeace, Global Witness, The Rainforest Foundation UK, “REDD Future
or Greenwash?” open letter to Michel Wormser, The World Bank, 3
December 2009, available at http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/africa/downloads/the-world-bank-and-the-forest-2.pdf
2. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation
3. Organisation concertée des écologistes et amis de la nature
Vision, video, photos, report information
For communications and interviews with René Ngongo, Fiona Musana -
Communications Director, Greenpeace Africa + 27 79 5129381, or Dietlind
Lerner – Communication at Greenpeace International + 31 6 46 16 20 26
2. For information about the open letter to the World Bank, Greenpeace
Political Advisor for Forests and Climate, Africa Specialist -
202-390-5586, firstname.lastname@example.org; Joe Smyth,
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