Repairing the past: From African American cemeteries to Iraqi art

Our progress roundup highlights American endeavors to address past injustices, by harnessing the power of both local voices and highly visible institutions.

1. United States

Efforts to preserve African American burial sites are gaining momentum across the country. Missing deeds, weak preservation laws, and general lack of awareness have made lost African American cemeteries uniquely vulnerable. More and more, communities are leading efforts to memorialize developed burial grounds, as well as identify and preserve these sites before they are slated for development.

Why We Wrote This

Increasingly, societies are trying to address wrongs by stopping bad practices and giving back what was taken. In the U.S., more communities are memorializing Black burial sites. And two museum collections have returned artifacts to Iraq.

Virginia’s Prince William County recently voted to fund archaeological surveys to improve cemetery mapping. Officials are also considering additional oversight for development projects in the community of Thoroughfare, where a new activist group has formed in response to the erasure of historic Black and Native American gravesites.

In Florida, where legislators estimate there may be as many as 3,000 developed or abandoned burial grounds, the governor signed off on a six-month task force dedicated to studying this issue. Nationally, historical preservation advocates have been pushing congressional bills that would establish a database of African American cemeteries throughout the United States, and to support educational programs. “People are absolutely starting to realize that these kinds of historical injustices need to be addressed now,” said Kelley Fanto Deetz, co-CEO of the History, Arts, and Science Action Network. “So there is a change coming.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation, Black Cemetery Network

2. Colombia

“Green corridors” offer residents of Medellín, Colombia, refuge from rising temperatures. Since 2017, the city has installed tens of thousands of native trees, palms, and other plants to create 30 interconnected corridors through many of Medellín’s “heat islands.” These urban areas have high concentrations of heat-absorbing paved roads and concrete, making the neighborhoods hotter in the day and slower to cool down at night. With more than 12 shaded miles, the green corridors offer residents routes to travel, work, and rest, and have decreased the heat island effect by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to city officials. The added vegetation also helps combat air pollution and absorb carbon emissions.

Despite initial concerns over the cost of creating and maintaining the corridors, city gardeners say community members have come to appreciate the green spaces. Their work has also received international praise. The initiative won a 2019 Cooling by Nature Award from Ashden, a United Kingdom-based charity supporting climate change solutions around the world, and the head of the United Nations Environment Program in Colombia, Juan Bello, said, “The Green Corridor project is an excellent example of how city planners and governments can use nature for smart urban design.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation, U.N. Environment Program

Khalid Mohammed/AP

Crates of recovered artifacts sit temporarily at the Foreign Ministry before heading to the Iraq Museum on Aug. 3, 2021.

3. Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Culture reclaimed 17,000 looted artifacts in the country’s largest repatriation. Decades of unrest, especially during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, have allowed for extensive looting of Iraqi antiquities, which often appear on the black market with vague or falsified letters of provenance. The recent return results from years of effort and includes thousands of cuneiform tablets, ancient seals, and other items. Around 12,000 artifacts come from the Museum of the Bible, founded and chaired by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green. The company launched an internal review of museum collections after the U.S. Department of Justice levied $3 million in fines in 2017 for dubious acquisitions. Another 5,000 were donations to Cornell University’s collection.

“This is not just about thousands of tablets coming back to Iraq again – it is about the Iraqi people,” said Hassan Nadhem, the minister of culture, tourism, and antiquities, about the historic shipment. “It restores not just the tablets, but the confidence of the Iraqi people by enhancing and supporting the Iraqi identity in these difficult times.”
The New York Times, Al Jazeera

4. Malawi

Malawian teens are tackling sensitive subjects on air. A survey showed that 54% of young people in Africa rely on radio as their primary news source, and according to the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, 81% find local programming more trustworthy than international programs. The U.S.-based nonprofit Developing Radio Partners is helping local radio stations build on that trust by mentoring young people to be role models for their community, and address critical social issues. So far, DRP has worked with nine stations to train about 400 youth reporters in Malawi. The teens go on to host and research radio shows covering cultural taboos, such as gender violence and HIV.

One program, called “Let’s Shine,” is estimated to have reached 3 million youths since hitting airwaves in 2017. One listener, Doreen Sakala, is a young mother who says the show’s candid conversations about teen pregnancy inspired her to return to school. Organizers say child marriage – which is illegal but remains common in Malawi – has declined in areas where radio stations have partnered with DRP. Near the Zambian border, Nzenje village chief Lawrence Lungu says the youth-led radio shows have helped dissolve at least six child marriages by “[bringing] light to us when we were in the dark.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation


25 Poorest Countries in the World

In this article, we will be looking at 25 of the poorest countries in the world. You can skip our detailed breakdown of these countries by heading straight to the 5 poorest countries of the world.

The pre-pandemic world had made significant progress to reduce global poverty to almost half by the year 2000. Today however, according to United Nations projections of multidimensional poverty index, the ongoing pandemic has pushed poor nations to a new brink of income inequality and enshrouded almost 8% of the total human population in complete despair.

Poverty by definition is a depravation in income and access to resources to maintain a healthy life. According to the World Bank, poor or low-income countries are nations that have a per capita gross national income (GNI) of less than $1026.

Many of the poorer countries in the world are a cauldron of political instability with years of internal conflict leaving them vulnerable to financial insecurity. Additionally, natural disasters brought on by the global climate emergency have led to entire nations being entrapped in cycles of poverty and disease. Such fragile infrastructures cannot withstand the onslaught of adversities such as Ebola and AIDS outbreaks and nations lose, whatever productive ground they have gained, very quickly.

It is perhaps not surprising that top ten of the poorest countries exist in Africa, and that it is in both Africa and in the continent of Asia that we expect to witness the largest increase in extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. All of these countries are deeply susceptible to environmental and economic risks and the ripples of the COVID 19 pandemic have contributed immensely to long-term persistent challenges to their economies.

All is not lost and there are many strides that have been made due to narrowing of the digital divide in these nations. Internet accessibility has helped to introduce the services of companies like Alphabet Inc. Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) and open new windows of opportunity and information to these hitherto isolated peoples.

Poorest Countries in the World

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Our Methodology

Over the past 25 years, the World Bank has used gross national income (GNI) per capita – valued annually in US dollars – to classify countries into an economic prosperity scale. The GNI of a country is calculated by taking into account its national output within borders and also its investments from abroad.

The formula for Gross National Income (GNI) is: GNI=C +I+G+X +NFFI. Where the ‘C’ represents consumption, the ‘I’ investments, ‘G‘ is consumptions and investments made by the government, ‘X’ represents net exports and ‘NFFI’ is the net foreign factor income. This defined and preferred benchmark, over the previously used gross domestic product (GDP), has proved useful to analyze progress and development trends since the beginning of the 3rd millennium.

With this context in mind, we will now deep dive into our list of the 25 poorest countries in the world. We will start with the 25th poorest country, according to the World Bank GNI per capita rankings as well as the 2021 World Population Data Sheet.

25 Poorest Countries in the World

25. Lesotho

GNI: $2740

Population: 2.2 million

A constitutional monarchy, Lesotho is a landlocked country with a mountainous terrain almost entirely surrounded by South Africa. The mountains have been largely responsible for their protection from outside encroachment.  The country is home to 2.2 million people and its GNI per capita rests at $2740. Lesotho has been prone to periodic droughts. It has also survived a military takeover which was reverted after seven years of martial rule.

24. Solomon Islands

GNI: $2680

Population: 0.7 million

An archipelagic state of 992 islands and atolls scattered around Melanesia in the Pacific Ocean, its 0.7 million residents are vulnerable to natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Its GNI per capita is the $2680 and 12.7 percent of its population lives below the poverty line.

Despite these odds, 11.9% of Solomon Islanders have access to the internet and are bridging the digital divide with companies like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER).

23. Guinea

GNI: $2580

Population: 13.5 million

Guinea is a majority Muslim country with ties to France. It has established trade with UAE and China. Its GNI per capita is at $2580. The 13.5 million people of Guinea have survived the Ebola virus, but the underlying fear of a new outbreak continues to permeate. Guinea continues to look to IMF to establish new programs for better infrastructure.

22. Ethiopia

GNI: $2410

Population: 117.8 million

This unique country in Africa evaded Colonial rule for all of its history, except a brief period of four years. Its war with neighboring Eritrea ended in 2018. Its population of 117.8 million makes it the second most populous country in Africa. Ethiopia has battled a 30-year drought and a population boom leaving its GNI per capita at $2410.

The country ranks 22nd in our list of the 25 poorest countries in the world.

21. Uganda

GNI: $2260

Population: 27.1 million

Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. Its population as of mid-2021 was 27.1 million people. It is perhaps tragically balanced by the AIDS epidemic, which keeps mortality rates high. Uganda’s government spending has grown as has its national debt resulting in its GNI per capita at $2260.

20. Mali

GNI: $2250

Population: 20.9 million

Mali, landlocked in western Africa, depends on its gold mining and agriculture exports as a source of wealth. Its people have seen much economic and social unrest and suffered through over 31 years of dictatorship rule. The current population of Mali is 20.9 million.

19. Gambia

GNI: $2230

Population:  2.5 million 

The Gambia is one of the smallest countries on the African mainland and is home to 2.5 million people, 95 per cent of whom are Muslim. The Gambia, largely an agricultural economy, relies heavily on overseas remittances and tourism. GNI per capita is $2230. Any future economic progress will depend on substantial bilateral aid. The Gambia has not been successful in eliminating its human trafficking problem; women, girls and young boys continue to be in danger of becoming victims.

18. Togo

GNI: $2230

Population: 8.3 million

The Togolese people have lived under a 50 year rule, with one family at the helm. The political and civil unrest and frustration in the form of riots experienced by the country is mainly due to this. Togo enjoyed a period of economic stability till the political situation erupted into its current state. At the moment its GNI per capita is at $2230. Although this figure is similar to The Gambia, other factors of the Human Development Index have been taken into account to place it below that country.

However, as youth in poor countries like Togo gets access to the internet and begin to use services of companies like Alphabet Inc. Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER), many believe this would increase awareness and create new economic opportunities in the region.

17. Burkina Faso

GNI: $2190

Population: 21.5 million

Burkina Faso is a country with very limited natural resources. Its 21.5 million inhabitants have had a history littered with human and natural disasters from drought to terrorist attacks and then to internally displaced peoples from these attacks. The current GNI per capita for Burkina Faso is $2190. Like The Gambia it struggles with issues resulting from human trafficking of women and children.

16. Rwanda

GNI: $2160

Population: 13.3 million

Rwanda has had a past littered with unrest culminating in the genocide of 800,000 people in 1994 including a large proportion of its Tutsi population. Its current population stands at 13.3 million people. Tourism, tea and coffee are some of the major sources of foreign exchange. Present day government has made pathways to leading the way to progress in the communications and technology sector. Rwanda’s GNI per capita is $2160.

However, as youth in poor countries like Rwanda gets access to the internet and begin to use services of companies like Alphabet Inc. Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER), many believe this would increase awareness and create new economic opportunities in the region.

15. Afghanistan

GNI: $2110

Population: 39.8 million

Afghanistan, one of the two countries on our list that is not located in Africa, houses a population of 39.8 million people. The geopolitical situation of the country has made it helpless against interference from its neighbors. Over 72,000 Afghans have received refuge in neighboring Pakistan. It is unfortunate that Afghanistan continues to be the world’s largest producer of opium. Since the US invasion in 2001, economic activity has increased slightly and currently the GNI per capita is at $2110.

14. Guinea-Bissau

GNI: $1980

Population: 2 million

A small country of 2 million people located on the western coast of Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Guinea-Bissau is home to a diverse plethora of ethnicities. The country has experienced its fair share of political upheavals in the form of coups and civil war. All this has contributed to its fragile economy where the GNI per capita is $1980 and two out of three Bissau-Guineans remain below the poverty line.

13. Sierra Leone

GNI: $1670

Population: 8.1 million

Home to 8.1 million people, Sierra Leone is located on the Western edge of the continent of Africa. Subsistence agriculture is the main source of wealth for its people.

12. Eritrea

GNI: $1610

Population: 3.6 million

Eritrea was involved in a 30-year struggle for independence from Ethiopia till 1991. Like many African countries the Eritrean population of 3.6 million people engages in subsistence agriculture for most of its economic output with a small percentage involved in mining of gold and other minerals. Its GNI per capita is currently at $1,610.

However, as youth in poor countries like Eritrea gets access to the internet and begin to use services of companies like Alphabet Inc. Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER), many believe this would increase awareness and create new economic opportunities in the region.

11. Chad

GNI: $1580

Population: 17.4 million

After Chad’s independence in 1960, the Chadian people saw over three decades of oppression and invasion from its neighbors. The country is home to 17.4 million, over 400,000 of whom are from Nigeria and Sudan. Chad mediates to resolve the Darfur conflict. Its GNI per capita is $1580 as low oil prices stress Chad’s fiscal position. Its 1 million internet users have been introduced to the services of companies like Alphabet Inc. Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) opening avenues of free flow of information and technology.

10. Malawi

GNI: $1540

Population: 20.3 million

A country of 20.3 million people, Malawi is located in southern Africa. It is ranked among the world’s least developed countries with a GNI per capita of US $1540. The country is heavily dependent on IMF, World Bank and other donor nations for assistance. A large share of its economic down trend can be attributed to the El Nino triggered drought of 2015.

9. Madagascar

GNI: $1540

Population: 28.4 million

Once a pirate stronghold in the early 18th century, Madagascar with its mostly youthful population of 28.4 million people is a small island in the Indian Ocean. It has suffered its fair share of cyclones and locusts infestations over its history. The dependent population contributes to its low GNI per capita of $1540. It is perhaps not surprising that 9.8% of the internet users in Madagascar’s dependent population use the services of (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER).

8. Liberia

GNI: $1250

Population: 5.18 million

Liberia is a country on the western coast of Africa. Its name is derived from the Latin ‘liber’ meaning free and is home to 28 diverse ethnicities of 5.18 million people. The basis of its foundation was a home for liberated African American slaves. An Ebola outbreak in 2015 and over a decade of fighting have reduced its GNI per capita to $1250. Ivorian refugees in Liberia make up 95% of the refugee population.

7. Mozambique

GNI: $1250

Population: 32 million

Mozambique, on the eastern coast of South Africa, remained under the Portuguese till 1975. Its 32 million inhabitants have struggled with a severe drought and large scale emigration due to civil war for the better part of a century. The GNI per capita of Mozambique stands at $1250 as of 2020. Mozambique like most poor African countries is highly vulnerable to lower life expectancy due to AIDS.

6. Niger

GNI: $1210

Population: 25.1 million

Named after the Niger River, this landlocked African country is home to 25.1 million people. Niger’s geopolitical position and the rate of unrest and spillover effect from surrounding countries have contributed to its low GNI per capita at $1210. Niger lacks the funds to develop its mineral and oil resources and is ranked last in the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index.

However, as youth in poor countries like Nigeria gets access to the internet and begin to use services of companies like Alphabet Inc. Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER), many believe this would increase awareness and create new economic opportunities in the region.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Poorest Countries in the World.

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Disclosure: None. 25 Poorest Countries in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.


IUCN Congress to Push for Stronger Regulations against ‘Imported Deforestation’

Biodiversity, Conferences, Conservation, Economy & Trade, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, Sustainability, TerraViva United Nations


Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis ssp. kandti) Endangered in IUCN Red List. In Cameroon, 1999 bushmeat was openly on sale along the road as 100-year-old trees were illegally logged and transported. Today large primates face the same fate, even if not so openly. Credit: Steve Morgan / Greenpeace

BHUBANESWAR, India, Sep 2 2021 (IPS) – As Arti Prasad rode the Kuala Lumpur Pavilion mall escalator up to the third floor, a pair of luscious lips pouted down at her. Next to the towering and oversized lips, the vibrant red shades of lipstick on the giant screen immediately caught the 36-year-old Indian tourist’s fancy.

Prasad headed straight to the cosmetic outlet and bought all four of the advertised lipsticks. She, like many others, is oblivious to a baby Orangutan’s plight – orphaned when its forest home was burned down to grow the palm oil that went into these beauty products. Primary forest losses mean that only 10% of gorilla habitat will remain in the Congo Basin by 2032.

Deforestation, a significant threat to biodiversity and climate change, is accelerated by global demand for commodities. However, a considerable share of this agro-commodity production is intended for export – driving massive deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems in the global south.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates global forest areas declined by 129 million hectares between 1990-2015, equivalent in size to South Africa.

Data from satellite imagery released on Global Forest Watch in June 2020 recorded 3.75 million hectares of tree cover loss in humid primary forests in the tropics in 2019, an almost 3% increase from 2018 and the third-largest tropical forest loss since 2000. 

Consumption patterns of G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the US) drive an average loss of 3.9 trees per person per year, over 15 years from 2001-2015, says a study published this year in Nature.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will hold the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, from 3-11 September 2021. This premier conservation event will address global deforestation. More importantly, Congress motion 012 – the fight against imported deforestation – was co-sponsored by numerous IUCN Members and voted on and approved before Congress.

The IUCN Congress meets every four years to tackle the most pressing issues impacting people and the planet. This IUCN Congress in Marseille will drive action on nature-based recovery, climate change, and biodiversity for decades to come.

Congress motion 012 calls on countries to stop imported deforestation through several ambitious strategies, including imposing additional taxes on imported products that generate deforestation.
The aim is to recommend that private companies establish concrete action plans to guarantee supplies that did not result in deforestation.

Red-faced spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus) are found in undisturbed primary rainforests, in northern Brazil, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana and Venezuela. Because of its ability to climb and jump, it tends to live in the upper layers of the rainforest trees and forages in the high canopy. With habitat loss and hunting it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Credit: la Vallee des Singes

The list of imported agricultural products contains, first and foremost, soy, palm oil, cacao, beef and its by-products, rubber, timber, and derived products that do not come from sustainably managed forests. Others include coffee, tea, or even cane sugar, which impact the deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems.

“The most recent IPCC and IPBES reports show that we are now at the point where significant and permanent changes to consumption patterns and legislative regulation can no longer be delayed,” David Williams-Mitchell, Director of Communications, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) told IPS via email. Netherlands-based EAZA, an IUCN member, is one of the co-sponsors of Congress motion 012.

More than 50% of global forest loss and land conversion is attributable to the production of agricultural commodities, and forestry products are driven by consumer demand, as shown by a 2020 WWF study on Switzerland’s overseas footprint for forest-risk commodities.

To end deforestation, companies must eliminate 5 million hectares of conversion from supply chains each year.

“The concept of imported deforestation is still quite new to the public in Europe. For EAZA, the key issue is to establish understanding globally that imported deforestation is one of the root causes of climate change and biodiversity loss,” Williams-Mitchell said.

He cited examples of a hugely expanded meat industry leading to increases in greenhouse gases, carbon sink capacity loss, and biodiversity loss through habitat conversion.

In 2017 alone, the international trade of agricultural products was associated with 1.3 million hectares of tropical deforestation emitting some 740 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – this is equivalent to nearly a fifth of the EU28’s total greenhouse gas emissions that year.

“We need countries all over the world to participate in the fight against imported deforestation. We need to learn to use local resources and establish sustainable sources for exported products, especially without harming the forests,” says Jean-Pascal Guéry of Primate Conservation Trust. This France-based IUCN member also co-sponsors Congress motion 012.

The world’s forests absorb 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, one-third of the annual CO2 released from burning fossil fuels. Forest destruction emits further carbon into the atmosphere, with 4.3–5.5 gigatons of total anthropogenic Green House Gas (GHG) emissions per year, generated annually mainly from deforestation and forest degradation, according to Cameroon-based NGO Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF).

IUCN Member ERuDeF, co-sponsor of Congress motion 012, estimates that half of the tropical forests worldwide have been destroyed since the 1960s. Every second, more than one hectare of tropical forest is destroyed or drastically degraded.

“Deforestation and conversion-free supply chains must protect not only forests, but all the terrestrial natural ecosystems threatened by the expansion of commodity production and trade including savannahs, grasslands, and peatlands among others,” Romain Deveze, WWF Switzerland’s senior manager, sustainable commodities & markets and co-author of the WWF 2020 study told IPS.
“It is vital that people understand that their choices and the frameworks that allow them to make those choices are at the heart of the solution,” Williams-Mitchell concurs.

“As governments, science engagement institutions, schools, and other providers and facilitators of education, we need to act to ensure this level of understanding at all levels of society,” Williams-Mitchell says, explaining why EAZA is sponsoring the motion.

Guéry is critical of some of the efforts to combat deforestation.

“There is awareness (too late, in our opinion) in certain European countries of the deleterious effects of this imported deforestation, and the French initiative to establish a national strategy to combat imported deforestation is commendable, but it lacks ambition and does not set binding and short-term goals,” he said.

“The assessments of companies including distributors, manufacturers, operators, rely too much on self-assessment rather than establishing an independent external certification,” Guéry said.

WWF also mentions that despite more initiatives to halt deforestation, including certification, corporate commitments, and market incentives, the rate of commodity-driven land use doesn’t appear to be declining. This means the negative impacts on local people and nature continue.

A full truck loaded with 60-70 Mukula logs at Katanga Province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2016. Around 8-10 trucks transported out Mukula logs every day. Mukula is a rare and slow-growing hardwood unique to southern and central Africa, illegally logged and traded from Zambia and DRC. Credit: Lu Guang / Greenpeace

In a study earlier this year, Greenpeace said that “certification is a weak tool to address global forest and ecosystem

By certifying their products as ‘sustainable,’ some certification schemes can help guide consumption choices and have a positive impact locally, “but it is (largely) greenwashing destruction of ecosystems and violations of Indigenous and labour rights.”

So, while buyers think they are making the right ethical choice, they might still buy products linked to abuse and destruction.

However, WWF’s Deveze says, “certification and legality are critical to halt deforestation at scale. A hectare of conversion is just equally as harmful to people and nature whether or not it is done legally.”

Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Greenpeace Africa’s campaign manager in Cameroon, told IPS in a Zoom interview, “the limitations to the policy effectiveness for the IUCN Congress motion on imported deforestation is increased taxation aimed at deterring forest clearing. This, however, cannot always prevent deforestation.”

“Companies would just increase production to compensate for the tax hikes,” Ndjeudja said, speaking from Yaoundé, where Cameroonians rallied in early August to demand EU stop deforestation for rubber production.
“It is industrial logging and industrial agriculture which is the problem. Are these industrial productions really bringing in a large revenue to the exporting governments? No. If it did, Cameroon and Congo would not be so poor. A small group gets rich. While Cameroon’s natives lose access to food, health, and their culture,” Tal Harris, Greenpeace Africa’s international communications coordinator, told IPS from Dakar, Senegal.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) hosts the second-largest contiguous tract of tropical forests globally, including roughly 60 percent of the Congo Basin rainforest. It is home to plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

“A government cannot work out of a capital city thousands of miles distant from such extensive forests,” Harris said. “Devolution of power to the local population is necessary.”

Local communities play a vital role in wildlife conservation and environment protection. Comprising less than 5 percent of the world’s population, indigenous communities protect 80 percent of global biodiversity, says ERuDeF.

Cameroon’s Ndjeaudja echoes this. To ensure trees are not cut, there is the need to work with local communities because, for generations, they have been living with forests and have the knowledge of their sustainable management.

“We have a lot to learn from them and must allow indigenous communities to share this knowledge,” he said.

Deveze concluded: “Economic and technical incentives are required to shift producer behaviour. At an international policy level, go for differentiated custom tariffs based on sustainability requirements and due diligence processes. Compensation mechanisms to support farmers in protecting high conservation value areas should be amplified.”