Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ­­– two African countries with globally significant forest resources – have signed landmark agreements with the World Bank that reward community efforts to reduce carbon emissions by tackling deforestation and forest degradation.

Mozambique signed an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) on February 1, unlocking performance-based payments of up to US$50 million for the country. DRC’s ERPA was signed late last year, paving the way for future payments of up to $55 million for verified emission reductions. The payments will come from the Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership housed at the World Bank.

“Avoiding deforestation and restoring our forests are essential to a safer, climate-resilient and more prosperous future for communities around the world. These payment agreements are game changers as they provide financial incentives for communities to manage their forests sustainably,” says Laura Tuck, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank.

About 43 percent of Mozambique’s overall territory is covered by natural forests (34 million hectares) that have been severely degraded over the years. Mozambique’s Zambézia Integrated Landscape Management Program is seeking to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, while at the same time improve the lives of rural populations in nine districts of the Province of Zambézia. The program will provide results-based payments for emission reductions, with the goal of reducing 10 million tons of carbon emissions by 2024.

In addition to emission reductions, these programs are also expected to contribute to livelihoods, including economic opportunities in climate-smart land use, as well as conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems.

“This agreement marks a significant step forward in Mozambique’s efforts to tackle climate change. Mozambique is committed to playing an active role and pursuing strong global action on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The World Bank and FCPF played an instrumental role in brokering and securing this deaMozambique and the DRC are the first of 19 countries in the FCPF Carbon Fund to sign such payment arrangements. Over the next year, the other Carbon Fund countries are expected to sign similar deals which will run through 2024.Over the next year, the other Carbon Fund countries are expected to sign similar deals which will run through 2024.

The DRC is home to the world’s second largest tropical rain forest, which serves as a carbon sink and important buffer to fight climate change. More than 300,000 hectares were lost between 2010 and 2015 and international efforts are needed to address deforestation and forest degradation.

“Forest communities are the real winners here. This agreement will allow the DRC to secure long-term public and private finance to provide alternatives to deforestation and reward efforts to mitigate climate change, reduce poverty, and manage natural resources sustainably. It is a major step towards implementing the country’s green development vision and contributes to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Yav Mulang, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Finance.

The DRC has been working with the World Bank and partners since 2010 to develop the Mai-Ndombe Emission Reductions Program. This program has already established over 13,000 hectares of forest “exclosures” (areas where animals are not allowed to graze), and close to 4,000 hectares of acacia plantations, improved the livelihoods of very poor farmers, and reduced slash-and-burn agricultural practices that cause deforestation and carbon emissions.

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