Rene Ngongo: Exposing Destructive Mining and Logging
Throughout the wartime years of 1996-2002 Ngongo was actively monitoring the exploitation of natural resources by the different warring parties. Many international organisations and research institutes recognised OCEAN as a key source of information. For instance, Ngongo's research on illegal mining operations (diamonds and other minerals) contributed to the UN Security Council expert panel report on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC. Ngongo is convinced that the struggle for the control over natural resources was the main driving force of the conflicts in the DRC that left millions of people dead.
Since the civil war ended, the destruction of the Congo rainforest has accelerated even more, because the DRC is now safe terrain for the big forestry multinationals to operate. OCEAN became the key organisation exposing irresponsible logging practices as well as weak governance and a lack of transparency in the forest and mining sectors. Not surprisingly, Ngongo has experienced a considerable amount of threats, manipulation and intimidation.
Today, the rainforests of the DRC are at a crossroads. In January 2009, the government finished a legal review of 156 forest concessions (on 20 million hectares) and concluded that 91 of them had been illegal. However, in September 2009, several companies whose contracts had been declared illegal by the joint ministerial commission in January continued their activities in total impunity. Thus, it is one of Ngongo's priorities to campaign for the implementation of the government's decision and for respecting the moratorium on new logging activities in the forests of the DRC. He is arguing that the further destruction of the Congo rainforest would put local communities, who depend on the forest for their livelihoods, at great risk. It would also further accelerate global warming and make the DRC more vulnerable to its effects.
Source: Right Livelihood Awards