Brazil’s Lula to visit DRC for trilateral rainforest summit

The Kinshasa summit will mark a resumption of Lula's energetic African diplomacy and offers more evidence of a major return to international climate diplomacy for Brazil.



Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 25 August for a trilateral summit on protecting the world’s major tropical rainforests.

Lula will join DRC President Felix Tshisekedi (pictured above with Lula at a summit on the Amazon basin held in Brazil this week) and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia for the “G3 Climate Summit” in Kinshasa. 

The leaders will respectively represent the Amazon rainforest, the Congo basin and the Borneo-Mekong basin, the rainforests of global significance that are based within their territories. 

The Congo Basin, some 60% of which lies in the DRC, is the largest carbon sink in the world, absorbing 1.5bn tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

According to a statement from the DRC government, “the DRC-Brazil-Indonesia summit aims to create a unified dynamic to defend the interests of humanity and their respective peoples so that they no longer act in a scattered fashion.” 

Common front to protect rainforests

The three countries formally announced the creation of a trilateral partnership to protect their rainforests at a meeting before the G20 summit in Bali last November

This week, at the Amazon rainforest summit in Belém, Brazil, Indonesian maritime minister Luhat Pandjaitan reaffirmed the determination of the three countries to form a common front to share their experiences, work together to safeguard their tropical forests, and push for fair compensation for their populations.

The Kinshasa summit will focus on creating a unified dynamic to protect not only the future of their own populations, but that of humanity as a whole. Poverty reduction and socio-economic growth will also be on the agenda. 

“The essential question is how the three countries will work together to preserve these forests because these three countries show that developing countries have a contribution to make to humanity on environment and climate change,” he said. 

Lula resumes Africa and climate push

The planned conference represents more evidence of a major return to international climate diplomacy for Brazil, which was castigated under Lula’s predecessor Jair Bolsonaro for its plans to commercially exploit the Amazon rainforest, nearly 60% of which lies in Brazil. 

Bolsonaro’s single term in power saw a dramatic increase in deforestation, which averaged more than 10,000 square km per year, compared with an average of 6,500 square km in the 10 years before he entered office. Lula has promised a decisive break with Bolsonaro, although he too was criticised for inaction in his earlier terms. 

The Kinshasa summit also marks a resumption of Lula’s energetic African diplomacy. During his first two terms, from 2003 to 2010, Lula visited dozens of African countries for bilateral meetings. During a trip to Cape Verde in July, Lula said he looked forward to visiting “several” African countries in 2023-24. Bolsonaro did not visit Africa during his term in office. 

Addressing the Congolese diaspora in Brazil, President Tshisekedi said that the summit will also mark the revival of Brazilian-Congolese relations, which he said had been dormant since 1987. Tshisekedi said that the parties will target renewed cooperation in infrastructure, air transport, electricity and agriculture. 

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David Thomas

Editor of African Business.