Graben Albertin: civil society calls for refusal to grant oil license

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Museveni, civil society organizations and human rights organizations from both countries are calling on leaders to avoid the news. series of licensing of oil exploration in Albertine Rift sensitive ecosystems.

A call that follows reports of a round of petroleum exploration licenses being signed, leading to exploitation around the Albertin Graben, a sensitive ecosystem of national and international importance.

According to Environews-rdc, which delivered this news, the DRC had already issued a call for tenders for oil exploration in the three sedimentary basins covering 21 oil blocks, including 50,000 km in the eastern Rift Basin of the Albertin Graben. He was reportedly joined on 10 April 2019 by his neighbor Uganda, who in turn announced that “the country would launch a second round of oil exploration licenses in May 2019 for seven blocks of exploration, covering a total distance of 1,200 kilometers created in the Albertine Rift.

One of the planned oil blocks is the Ngaji oil bloc, part of a sensitive ecosystem that was not trapped in the first round of exploration licenses , because of the public pressure exerted on the oil companies.

The organizations of civil society and human rights recall in the letter that “the Graben Albertin is home to the Virunga National Park in eastern DRC, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is home to 43% of African bird species, 27% of mammals and more than 10% of its reptiles, amphibians, and plants in addition to several rare and endangered species. And on the same Albertin Graben, indicates the Civil Society, are the Queen Elizabeth National Park, also classified as a reserve of humanity and the biosphere by Unesco.

These ecosystems also play an important role in climate stability and carbon uptake. They help thousands of people by providing food, fresh water and income from agriculture, fishing and tourism. Thus, oil exploitation in these ecosystems will not only have a negative impact on biodiversity but also on the communities that depend on them to survive, especially in Africa where oil activities have continued to cause environmental degradation, human rights and conflicts fueling extrajudicial executions, among others. As a result, the Civil Society believes that it is totally unacceptable for these areas to be open to oil exploitation.

Issues and dangers

“As Heads of State, it is your noble approach to ensure that our countries respect the commitments we have made by enabling oil exploration activities in these sensitive ecosystems,” reads in this correspondence. .

It should be noted that the Ugandan and Congolese governments are both signatories of the RAMSAR Convention as well as the UNESCO conventions on conservation, which advocate the appropriate conservation of World Heritage sites in their respective territories. These conventions oblige all signatory countries to undertake to avoid any activity likely to degrade directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage of these sites. And if oil exploration were undertaken in these areas and other sensitive ecosystems, it would be an abuse of their commitment.

In addition, Uganda and the DRC are both signatories to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This agreement calls on all signatory countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the increase in global temperature to less than 2 degrees centigrade or a pre-industrial level of 1.5. These commitments oblige all signatory countries to ensure that all activities leading to the generation and release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere are limited and for which oil exploration and production are the most large generator of these gases.

In order not to deprive thousands of important environmental services rendered by these areas, the organizations that defend the environment call first and foremost for the outright cancellation of this project in blocks located in sensitive ecosystems, before formulating a number of recommendations to Presidents Tshisekedi and Museveni.

They therefore call on both countries to work together to harmonize hydrocarbon laws and related laws for the conservation and benefit-sharing of natural resources before the opening of any new exploration process in Albertine’s shared ecosystems. Graben, respect the national and international commitment to combat climate change and amplify commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with global goals and commitments, and promote tourism as a driver of sustainable economic development and livelihoods of communities.

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