Africa's equatorial forests are not only a source of carbon, but they also represent nearly 30% of the continent's climate potential and provide services, said Gabon's Forestry Minister Lee James Taylor White.
Lee White said in his speech on Wednesday at the two-day One Forest Summit being held in Libreville, Gabonese capital, that the first day is devoted to discussions on unlocking innovative sources of finance, promoting sustainable value chains, and promoting scientific cooperation on tropical forests.
“We will discuss how to harness, preserve and finance these forests as they account for nearly 30% of climate potential,” he added.
Ministers, experts, and civil society actors from around the world attended the event on tropical forest conservation, which is being jointly organized by Gabon, a country along Central Africa's Atlantic coast, and France.
The concluding day will be attended by Gabonese President Ali Bongo Odimba and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, as well as other heads of state and government whose names are not mentioned in the official statement.
The discussions may be "controversial," but a "dialogue" would lead to a "consensus" on a crisis that Lee White considers "more important than COVID-19" and that threatens decades.
"It's a bigger threat," he said, referring to the estimated 22 million people in the Horn of Africa who are at risk of death due to drought and climate change.
Africa's rainforests not only provide carbon but also services to the continent, such as water evaporating from them to feed waterways in the Sahel, Ethiopia, and Egypt, according to him.
"If we lose this, there will be hundreds of millions of climate refugees in Africa," the Gabonese minister warned.
Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, the French secretary of state for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, emphasized the significance of scientific research in her speech on the occasion.
"We can't protect the forest if we don't know about it," she said.
Source: Anadolu Agency