Mentoring in the Republic of Congo, Meetings in the DRC

In the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, most greenhouse gas emissions come from the land-use sector (deforestation, degradation, agriculture, urban expansion).


Although both countries have many qualified carbon professionals, they still lack a sufficient number of well-trained terrestrial carbon accountants. These carbon accountants are needed to understand greenhouse gas (GHG) stocks and flows, to gain access to climate finance, to help inform mitigation plans and programs, and to report on pledges made internationally under the Paris Agreement.


The genesis of the most recent capacity building trip to the Republic of Congo (RoC) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) dates back to June 2015, when conversations began between the US State Department, the US Forest Service International Programs, The Carbon Institute, and CRESA Foret-Bois. After periodic scoping trips and training in Cameroon and the ROC, including mentoring of Cameroonian faculty, the partners at The Carbon Institute and CRESA conducted a mission to ROC and DRC in December 2017.


This mission was designed with two primary objectives: (1) the mentoring of Congolese academics and government officials and (2) scoping opportunities for terrestrial carbon accounting (TCA) capacity-building at academic institutions in DRC. John-O Niles, Director of The Carbon Institute, and Francois Hiol Hiol, Director of CRESA Foret-Bois traveled to Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo for these trips.


Advanced mentoring of RoC academics and government officials took place in Brazzaville at Université Marien N’Gouabi. Twenty-two participants were involved in the mentoring and teaching, including instructors and USFS IP personnel, resulting in a total of 264 teaching-hours.


Professor Gaston Samba teaching a technical mentoring course, “Conceptual understanding of the main equation for calculating greenhouse gas inventories and forest reference levels.”

The mentoring built off the earlier training in Cameroon, primarily for the nine RoC learners from the original training, and was be co-taught by The Carbon Institute (US-based) and CRESA (Cameroon-based) at an advanced level. The lectures were split into technical and policy matters. Several of the modules provided updates from the most recent United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, particularly related to the newest policy developments and the newest technical guidance on carbon accounting. The modules also included a new emphasis on TCA for climate finance (e.g., the Green Climate Fund, the CTCN) and deepened learner understanding of the fundamental TCA equations. Over the course of the mentoring workshop, the active participation of George Boundzanga, the director of CN REDD, provided important policy engagement.


After the mentoring session concluded, Niles and Hiol Hiol crossed from Brazzaville to Kinshasa by boat for the scoping trip.


In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Niles and Hiol Hiol held meetings with a range of DRC government officials and staff at the DRC offices of international organizations. Almost universally, the contacts asked were enthusiastic about the idea of partnering to conduct additional TCA training and to build academic TCA teaching capacities in DRC. Together, the partners and the new contacts in the DRC are exploring opportunities for collaboration to launch a new advanced Terrestrial Carbon Accounting Certificate in the DRC.


In addition to advanced TCA mentoring in the Republic of Congo and conducting a scoping study for new academic-government partnerships in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niles and Hiol Hiol engaged with Master’s students from the region who were supported by the USFS IP. Niles and Hiol Hiol had the honor of participating in their graduation ceremony.


Overall, the Directors of The Carbon Institute and CRESA had a rewarding – and hopefully impactful – mission, and look forward to deeper collaboration in the ROC and the DRC in the near future.