In August 2010, Reuters reported that Shift2Neutral had “signed a deal aimed at protecting tropical forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as boosting renewable energy there.” Now, according to a letter dated 1 October 2010, from DR Congo’s Minister of Environment, José E. B. Endundo, the deal is “illegal” and “void”.
The letter, addressed to the the Chairman of the Board of Congo Investment and Environment Security (CIES), Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi, is available on the Ministry of Environment’s website and can be downloaded here (pdf file 1.8 MB – in French).
The following is a translation of the brief statement on Ministry of Environment’s website:
Letter from the Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism on the Granting of Forestry Concessions
In a letter to the Honourable Modeste Mutinga, the Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism, Jose Endundo, recalls that only the state can decide on the granting of forest concessions in all categories. This follows an agreement signed without effect by the company CIES with Shift2Neutral Pty Ltd, an Australian company wanting to promote carbon sequestration and which the Senator reports in a letter to the Minister.
Shift2Neutral apparently signed the deal in DR Congo with CIES. Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi, the Chairman of the Board of CIES, is a Senator and owner of one of DR Congo’s major newspapers, Le Potentiel. In 2000, he won an International Press Freedom Award for his work as a publisher and journalist. But according to a source, when the Shift2Neutral deal was signed, CIES was not a Ministry-approved consulting firm. It still isn’t.
Here’s a rough translation* of the Minister’s letter:
Democratic Republic of Congo
Ministry of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism
Kinshasa, 1 October 2010
No. 1961 /CAB/MIN/ECN-T/27/JEB/101
To the Honourable Senator Modeste MUTINGA Chairman of the Board of Directors of Congo Investment and Environment Security “CIES”
Re: Technical Board Approval
Acknowledgment of receipt
I hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter referenced CIES/PSA/DG/006/2010 of 15 September, seeking common agreement by the Ministry of the consulting firm where you are the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In the same letter, I send the file to my technical services for study and action.
On the other hand, the memorandum of agreement signed with the Australian company Shift2Neutral Pty Ltd, I regret to inform you that it is null and void because of the commitments under the jurisdiction of the state. I need not remind you that in fact the Congolese forests as protected areas are owned by the State which alone can decide their fate.
If at your company benefited from a forestry concession, it could, after approval, engage in REDD in partnership with another company. That is not however the case.
You are not unaware that the signing of this Agreement has been the subject of a violent international campaign on the Internet and that the Ministry has repeatedly been questioned about it. The Ministry is therefore obliged in turn to release through the same channels, the information declaring the agreement illegal and therefore void.
With my regrets repeated, I beg you to believe, Honourable Senator, the assurance of my highest consideration.
José E. B. Endundo
Here’s a rough translation* of Modeste Mutinga’s letter to the Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism:
Congo Investment and Environment Security
Kinshasa, 15 September 2010
His Excellency the Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism, Kinshasa-Gombe.
Re: Our identification
The honour falls to me to come to solicit the identification of the consulting firm “CIES Consulting” by your ministry, as an environmental operator.
In fact, CIES Consulting is a private company (SPRL) of which the object is, among others, environmental improvement, management and protection, etc. it is in this framework that we signed a memorandum of agreement with the SHIFT2NEUTRAL Pty Ltd company established in Australia.
As we stressed during the interview with the Director of your office, and the Director of the Department of Sustainable Development, Mr. Vincent KASULU, and convinced that the national process REDD is the exclusive competence of the government, we could only address your high authority with the intention of bringing our expertise as well as that of our partner in the work of awareness raising, monitoring and of protection that you began in the framework of GTCR [Groupe de Travail Climate REDD].
We remain open to the Interdepartmental Committee for REDD for any additional information and recommendations necessary for the realisation of our project.
In the hope that this request will retain your best attention, we ask you to believe, your Excellency the Minister, the expression of our frank collaboration.
Modeste MUTINGA MUTUISHAYI
Chairman of the Board
* ^^ N.B. This translation was done using google translate and my badly remembered schoolboy French. It is not an official translation and I would welcome any corrections.
UPDATE – 8 October 2010: Added my translation of Modeste Mutinga’s letter to the Minister of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism. N.B. The note above applies to this translation as well. I would welcome any corrections to the translation.