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The World Bank's Program in DRC


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contains over half of Africa's remaining rainforests. About 40 million poor Conglolese, including Pygmies, depend on these forests for food, income, energy, shelter, medicines and cultural needs. Photo: Kim Gjerstad


Updated: March 24, 2009

DRC's Forests and Economic Context

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa and hosts the third largest population. Forests cover about sixty percent of the country including the vast majority of the Congo Basin rainforest. DRC’s wealth in natural resources stands in stark contrast with the poverty of its population. More... 



$7 million GEF Grant 2009–2013
(April 2009)
Rehabilitation of National Park Network in DRC
$70 million IDA and GEF Grants
(approval April 2009)
Forest and Nature Conservation Project (PFNoCo)
$5.5 million Grant from Multi-Donor Trust Fund For Forest Governance
Forest Governance
$2 million Grant from BioCarbon Fund
Part I: 2009–2012
Ibi Batéké Carbon Sink Plantation
$0.2 million Grant from Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
March-December 2009
Preparation of REDD Readiness Plan
$3.4 million Grant from Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
(in preparation)
REDD Readiness Plan Implementation
Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
(amount to be determined)
REDD scale-up

World Bank Engagement in the DRC’s Forest Sector

The World Bank’s overall objective in the DRC is to help fight poverty and improve living standards for its people.

The initial focus of Bank support was on policy reforms. As such, the Bank made forests a priority theme in its overall country dialogue, supported sector studies, engaged in policy dialogue and contributed to forest policy changes in a variety of ways.

Now that key reforms are taking shape, the time is right for the Bank to finance interventions of the ground. To do so, the Bank will support to the DRC's National Program for Forests and Nature Conservation (Programme National des Forêts et Conservation de la Nature-PNFoCo), the framework designed by the Government and its key partners to coordinate all activities in the sector. (please see New Investments tab)

Forest Reform

Updated: March 24, 2009

The Forest Reform Agenda

In 2002, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo approved a new Forest Code which, for the first time, presented a holistic view of forest resources, emphasizing forests’ multiple social, economic, and environmental values. It recognized the rights of traditional forest users--including indigenous people; envisaged doubling the size of DRC’s protected areas and trading environmental services in the emerging global market.

In parallel, it launched a forest reform agenda that included:

  • cancelling patently illegal logging contracts that covered 25.5 million hectares of forests
  • a legal review (assisted by a third party) of the remaining logging contracts
  • a moratorium on all new logging contracts
  • a new forest tax system to discourage speculation and direct 40 percent of the revenue to forest communities and local governing bodies
  • conversion of old logging contracts into sustainable management concession contracts with strict social and environmental obligations
  • participatory forest zoning to establish biodiversity reserves, production forests, rural community forests, or convert to other uses
  • promotion of non-extractive uses of forests and innovative financing for the production and trade of global environmental services
  • rehabilitation of national parks and protected areas, to expand to 15% of national territory
  • control of commercial forest activities through new technologies and independent observers
  • integration of participatory approaches, public dissemination of information, and communication at all levels to share new policy directions and gain support from civil society.

Progress in the Reform Agenda

A detailed update of the implementation of the reform agenda was provided by the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism (MENCT) in a widely disseminated statement delivered on October 6, 2008, when he announced the results of the Legal Review. His update and summary of new orientations is structured in 14 points:

  • Cancel non-compliant contracts immediately after the appeal stage.
  • Sign new concession contracts with compliant companies, provided that they receive approval from local and/or pygmy populations for the social and environmental responsibility contract (cahier des charges), which is an essential component of the new concession contract.
  • Sign the regulation specifically defining how noncompliant concessions will be cancelled on the ground.
  • Support and monitor the process through which local and indigenous communities negotiate social and environmental responsibility contracts with the forest industry.
  • Maintain the moratorium on new forestry concessions set forth in Presidential Decree 05/116.
  • Establish effective control of forest operations with the support of international third parties.
  • Transfer 40 percent of area tax revenues to the provinces and territories (sub districts) where commercial forest operations take place.
  • Secure the preparation and implementation of sustainable forest management plans for all forest concessions.
  • Implement participatory, multipurpose forest zoning in close consultation with local populations.
  • Support small, family-based enterprises in forest areas.
  • Expand rehabilitation activities in protected areas.
  • Implement institutional reform in the Ministry of Environment Forests, Nature Conservation and Tourism including reorganization of the institutions under its responsibility: the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), the Kinshasa Botanical Garden, and the Zoo.
  • Scale up efforts to disseminate the Forest Code and foster the adoption of regulations not yet adopted.
  • Start the national multi-donor program for Forest and Nature Conservation ( Programme National Forêt et Conservation , PNFoCo).

Highlights of Recent Developments

The Legal Review was completed on January 19, 2009 after 37 months of work by a national Technical Working Group (TWG), assisted by a Consultant (World Resources Institute/Agreco) that played the dual role of technical assistant and independent observer. The TWG analyzed requests to convert 156 logging permits, totaling 22.4 million hectares into long-term forest concession contracts. After reviewing the recommendations of the Interministerial Committee (IC) and the outcome of the many appeals filed, the Minister announced that only 65 out of 156 logging contracts would be eligible for conversion into long-term concessions. This table maps and lists the recommendations on every contract. Companies holding eligible contracts were invited to negotiate social and environmental responsibility agreements with local and indigenous populations. Assuming that negotiations will be successful for all companies and that all companies will prepare sustainable forest management plans in a timely fashion, the area devoted for long term timber production would now be 9.7 million hectares, a dramatic decline from the 43.5 million hectares prior to the 2002 forest reform and the 22.4 million hectares prior to the Legal Review.

As follow-up to the legal review, a Consensus Workshop was held in Kinshasa on March 4 and 5, 2009, with representatives of the Forest Authority, donors, civil society and national and international non-governmental organizations to make concrete proposals on how to implement reforms in the forest sector. [Communiqué in English] [Commuiqué en français]

All documentation related to the legal review and the conversion process can be found at this site: 

Maintenance of the moratorium . No cases of breach of the moratorium were observed by the Bank during the period between January 2008 and January 2009. On October 6, 2008, Congo's Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism (MECNT) reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to maintaining the moratorium.

Adoption of regulations to implement the forest code: Of the forty-two regulations deemed necessary to implement the 2002 Forest Code, twenty-five have been published and nine are under various stages of development. Of the remaining eight, four require additional studies, one was found outside the field of competence of the MECNT, and three depend on future policy developments. The MECNT has also prepared a new Framework Law on Nature Conservation and a new Environmental Law. Adoption of both is expected to take place at the next parliamentary session in March 2009.

Enhancing local communities and indigenous people’s participation in deliberations. Of 21 permanent members of the Legal Review’s IC, two represented indigenous peoples. In addition, the IC included one representative of local and Pygmy populations for each forest titles being considered. A total of 153 representatives were chosen by the communities with the aid of a national NGO, of whom 133 (116 from the local populations and 17 from the indigenous peoples) were able to come to Kinshasa.

Taking a broader view of forest indigenous people With Bank support, the Government decided to focus on longer term efforts that would address indigenous people issues in a more systematic and institutionally sustainable way. To this end, on June 27-28, 2008, it organized a consultation with Pygmy-led NGOs, donors and international observers to start listing key areas of interest and concerns of indigenous people. The following were identified among others: i) citizenship and registration; ii) access to health services, education, potable water and sanitation; iii) access to land, agriculture and livestock; iv) environmental protection and forest zoning; v) Pygmy leadership capacity; vi) improvement of housing and quality of life; and vii) sensitization of the public authorities (nationally, regionally and locally) to Pygmy-related issues. These topics will be further analyzed in a study currently being prepared by the Bank and reflected in future Bank-financed interventions.

New Investments

Updated: March 24, 2009

International Collaboration in support of PNFoCo

In line with the lessons learnt in other Congo Basin countries, the World Bank realized early on that incremental strategies, gradual approaches, and technology improvements alone, would not be sufficient to address DRC's long-standing governance and institutional issues, and that bold policy reforms and targeted investments were needed. It also realized that its portfolio of interventions needed to include both traditional forest capacity-building and investments, as well as new innovative approaches in helping DRC use its forests more holistically and position itself in the emerging market for global environmental services.

In the DRC, the Bank first worked closely with the Government and other partners to develop a comprehensive forest sector priority agenda. As soon as conditions for new investments were met, the Bank put together a diversified set operations, some of which are already operational, others soon to become operational. These Bank-managed operations work in synergy, and complement other initiatives financed by other donors contributing to the PNFoCo, the DRC's National Forest and Nature Conservation Program (PNFoCo).

The Forest and Nature Conservation Project

This project is the main vehicle through which the World Bank will support the DRC’s National Forest and Nature Conservation Program, a US$250 million multi-donor p rogram developed by the Government and supported by the EU, USA, UK, Germany, Belgium, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the African Development Bank, GEF/UNDP and UNEP and voluntary contribution to national and international NGOs.

This project totals US$70 million in grants, US$64 million of which will come from the International Development Association (IDA), and US$6 million from the Global Environmental Facility. The project’s approval has been scheduled for April 2, 2009.

The project aims to increase the capacity of the Ministries of Forests and Nature Conservation and the collaboration among government institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to manage forests sustainably and equitably for multiple uses in selected pilot areas of DRC. At the same time, the project will test community-based approaches for managing forests holistically in ways that benefit forest and indigenous populations, the local and national economy, and the global environment. A third component will improve the management of protected areas and strengthen capacity at the head offices of Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism (MECNT) and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) in Kinshasa, while field operations and management approaches will be piloted in 3 provinces (Bandundu, Equateur, and Orientale), 12 districts, and 53 sub districts (territoires) and at the Maiko National Park.

The project will also secure continued implementation of forestry actions identified in the Management Report’s Action Plan.

The project's Project Implementation Document and Environmental Assessment documents can be found at this link in the Projects Database.


Consultation on this project started in 2007 when the Terms of Reference of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) were disclosed. They involved information sessions in all provinces and in depth consultations in the Orientale, Bandundu and Equator Provinces where the project will concentrate. All consultations were carried out in collaboration with networks or national NGOs. Specific sessions were held with the population at large and with indigenous (Pygmy) populations.

The report on consultations with the population at large can be read here in French

The report on consultations with indigenous (Pygmy) people can be read here in French

Summaries of the ESIA were disseminated in the project’s focus provinces in three local languages: LingalaSwahilii and Tsiluba.

The Rehabilitation of Protected Areas Network Project

Currently there are seven national parks and 57 nature and hunting reserves in the DRC. They include five World Heritage Sites, all of which have been placed on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. These protected areas make up about 7.7 percent of the DRC’s national territory, and the government has made a commitment to increase this coverage to 15 percent of the country.

In DRC, there are several threats and barriers to the conservation of globally important biodiversity:

  • the government agency charged with administering protected areas lacks institutional capacity at all levels;
  • priority protected areas face specific threats that must be addressed in the short and medium term in order to preserve their ecological integrity;
  • the protected area system as it is now is insufficient to protect enough samples of the DRC’s significant biodiversity in the face of anticipated post-war development pressures

The objective of the project, which would receive a $7 million grant from the Global Environment Facility, is to address all three of these threats through the following activities:

  • strengthen the financial management, coordination, and communication capacity of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature - ICCN) to manage targeted protected areas
  • finance technical studies and consultations to help ICCN identify new protected areas to ensure better representativeness of national biodiversity.
  • establish contracts for the management of Garamba National Park and the Mikeno Sector of the Virunga National Park (two of the ten most important, accessible protected areas in the country)

The project's Project Implementation Document and Environmental Assessment documents can be found at this link in the Projects Database.