Extractives & Infrastructure

THE ISSUE

Infrastructure development in the Congo Basin is gathering pace and all of the countries have embarked on economic growth plans that will involve the development of major transport and energy projects. Numerous long-mooted projects are already underway or in the serious planning phase, and with this has come growing concerns about environmental and human impacts.

Our research has found these projects often lack transparency, are primarily designed to serve specific vested interests, rather than developmental benefit, and have chronic failures in social and environmental safeguard systems, which are already causing harm. The inadequate consideration of the true costs include their indirect or cumulative impacts, which can go well beyond those of the project itself; displacement of local communities, as well as other social and cultural costs; and the foregoing of potential alternative approaches. Most, if not all, are likely to have long-term, significant and probably irreversible impacts on the forests. Yet there is little sign that policy-makers are seriously adressing this threat through the billions of dollars invested in protected areas, REDD+ programmes and other  so-called nature-based solutions.

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Women in Bamasobha participating in discussions which led their community to apply for a community forest.

our position

Poorly planned infrastructure poses a double risk: accelerating deforestation while offering little in terms of developmental benefit. To avoid and mitigate these costs, there must be greater transparency in the development of these projects, embedding them in participatory land-use planning processes and a strengthening of local tenure and other rights of local populations.

What we're doing

Our research on infrastructure development and logging roads prompted a major UN study that is challenging long-held assumptions about deforestation and how to tackle it.

Together with our partners, we have campaigned to stop destructive infrastructure projects such as planned hydroelectric dams in Gabon’s Ivindo National Park and on the Ene River in Peru, protecting tens of thousands of hectares of forest.

Our campaign on the Cuvette Centrale peatlands aims to protect one of the world’s largest carbon syncs from fossil fuel and associated infrastructure development, among other threats.

Featured publications

thumbnail of infrastructure-report

Roads to Ruin: the emerging impacts of infrastructure development in Congo Basin forests