12 December 2013

Africa: World Bank Approves Funds to Boost Biodiversity Protection in Democratic Republic of Congo

press release

Washington — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved US$14.64 million to enhance the Democratic Republic of Congo's capacity to manage its vast network of protected areas, comprised of seven national parks and 57 nature and hunting reserves covering some 22 million hectares rich in globally-important biodiversity.

"The DRC's parks and reserves have been internationally recognized for their world-class natural treasures, but many are threatened by illegal logging, encroachment by surrounding communities, and poaching," said Eustache Ouayoro, World Bank Country Director for Democratic Republic of Congo. "Today's Project is expected to help preserve the DRC's world class biodiversity, improve the long-term viability of the national parks system, and help to bring jobs and stability to the country's war-torn communities."

Today's financing includes a US$3 million International Development Association (IDA)* grant and US$11.64 million Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund grant.

The funds provide additional financing for the National Parks Network Rehabilitation Project (PREPAN, for its name in French, Projet de Réhabilitation du Réseau des Parcs Nationaux), designed to boost the ability of DRC's Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) to oversee and manage the country's protected areas. Today's funds also support establishment of the Okapi Fund for Nature Conservation in the DRC, a national conservation trust fund.

Today's financing will support the ICCN's ongoing capacity building work that has enabled the institute to better coordinate with external partners, and helped to promote an integrated approach to biodiversity conservation in the DRC's parks and nature and hunting reserves. PREPAN includes steps such as improving reporting skills and human resource management within ICCN and Okapi Fund, and activities designed to improve ICCN's financial management systems.

The additional funds will also support existing activities in Virunga National Park and Garamba National Park, both named UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their globally important biological diversity. Each of the two parks has been classified as being in danger of losing its rich animal, plant and ecosystem diversity and is a priority for international conservation efforts.

A significant portion of today's financing, jointly with support from the German Development Bank KfW, will help establish the Okapi Fund in order to help ensure long-term sustainable financing of the country's park network. The PREPAN will support technical and management assistance for the Okapi Fund as well as the creation of an investment strategy. The Fund's Board will oversee the Fund's investments as well as disbursements to the nation's protected areas.

"The DRC's forests constitute a vast carbon storage reservoir, a globally important public good, and provide an important source of livelihoods for a substantial number of Congolese," said Douglas J. Graham World Bank Task Team Leader for this Project. "I am delighted to help the implementation of this important project."

* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 million over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.

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