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Gabon's Military Government Upholds 'Debt-for-Nature' Agreement Amid Political Turmoil

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Mazhar Abbas
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Gabon's Military Government Upholds 'Debt-for-Nature' Agreement Amid Political Turmoil

In an unprecedented move, Gabon's military government has set a new standard in environmental conservation by making the first payment in a 'debt-for-nature' swap agreement. This groundbreaking financial deal, the first of its kind in mainland Africa, comprised a $500 million debt exchange initiated under the rule of the now-overthrown President Ali Bongo.

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The Aim of the Debt-for-Nature Agreement

The primary goal of the agreement is to safeguard Gabon's coastal waters, the dwelling place of the world's most substantial population of leatherback turtles. The political turmoil following Bongo's removal sparked concerns about a potential collapse of the agreement, leading to a possible sovereign debt default. However, the current junta has demonstrated its commitment to the country's obligations.

Fulfilling Commitments Amidst Political Instability

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Despite the political instability, the military government has made a first instalment of $1.1 million into a new conservation fund, a core component of the debt-for-nature agreement. This action has been perceived as an assurance that Gabon will continue to uphold its commitments to environmental protection, even under the new military rule.

Implications for Climate Change and Conservation Efforts

This move by Gabon's government is significant not just for the country, but also for the global environmental conservation community. It highlights the need for innovative financial mechanisms to tackle the climate emergency and the importance of protecting the planet from the detrimental effects of global warming. The space for profound changes in carbon-heavy sectors has been further emphasized during the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28), where the focus was on climate finance, loss and damage funding, and the state of finance for nature.

Furthermore, the Global Methane Pledge, aiming to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, has underscored the importance of reducing methane emissions to achieve the 1.5°C warming limit. Gabon's commitment to the 'debt-for-nature' swap agreement is a significant step towards achieving these global environmental targets.

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