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Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen

My country, Gabon, is a High Forest, Low Deforestation country.

Forests cover 88% of Gabon, with 21% in protected areas. A further 60% are protected and managed in sustainable forestry concessions.

The national bio-diverse rain forests harbour two thirds of the forest elephants, an indication both of their biological significance and of our sustained efforts to reinforce natural resource governance.

We absorb four times more carbon dioxide than we emit.

Since Copenhagen, where I made a strong commitment to fight climate change, our economy has absorbed just over one billion tons of CO2 net.

Managing forests, protecting our parks, monitoring our land for illegal logging and mining activity and fighting organised criminal and terrorist groups, who plunder our natural resources is not easy.

It requires constant vigilance, technical knowhow, logistical capacity, sustainable funding and most importantly, courageous, dedicated, uncorruptible forest managers.

In the absence of just one of these requirements, forests are progressively degraded and wildlife slaughtered.

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen

The Congo Basin is the heart and lungs of the African continent.

We cannot win the battle against climate change unless we keep the Congo Basin forests standing.

Furthermore, our forests send rain to the Sahel and to the Ethiopian HighlandS, filling the Blue Nile and supporting agriculture in Egypt.

They are critical to the stability both of the African continent and the World at large.

Yet the international community has consistently under-valued this critical ecosystem.

For over a century the developed world has plundered our forests, extracting logs that have been the foundation for thriving industries outside the African continent.

When a log leaves the African continent, we receive less than 10% of the potential value and create just 10% of the jobs at source. For every job in Africa there are 9 off shore.

I see a sustainable forestry and timber processing industry as our best chance to transition from an oil economy.

We plan to save the forest by exploiting it sustainably.
By ensuring, it contributes to the Gabonese economy and provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of Gabonese people.

If we want our forests to survive, they must be valuable to our nation.

I invite the World to come and invest responsibly in Gabon’s timber economy.

I urge the World to stand by our side in our efforts to protect and understand our forest ecosystems.

I hope that together we can navigate the complex economic and political process underway here in Glasgow to fix an equitable carbon price for the net positive nations, to encourage others to join our exclusive club.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, speaking in Copenhagen in 2009,

was kind enough to quote me as saying that “the doors to the future are closing”.

IPCC tells us there is no viable future without the tropical rain forests.

It is my hope that Glasgow will mark a turning point and that together we will keep the forests standing and the door open for our children and their children.

Thank you.

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