Indigenous and community leaders call on banks not to fund oil and gas expansion in Congo and Amazon

Indigenous and community leaders call on banks not to fund oil and gas expansion in Congo and Amazon

October 24, 2022 - Indigenous and local leaders name lending practices of banks and financial institutions as critical factors in oil & gas expansion in vital forest basins.

January 18, 2023 (Davos, Switzerland) — As the World Economic Forum Annual meeting kicks off in Davos, Indigenous leaders and regional environmental organizations from the Congo and Amazon regions are calling on banks and other financial institutions to commit to end financing for new oil and gas expansion. According to new research, an area nearly six times the size of the United Kingdom – has now been designated as oil and gas blocks in the Amazon and Congo Basins. These regions represent the two largest tropical rainforests in the world and fossil fuel expansion is a rapidly accelerating existential threat to global climate stability and biodiversity, and to tens of millions of Indigenous People and other local community members who live inside areas slated for oil and gas exploration and development. The lending practices of banks and financial institutions — many gathered in Davos — are critical factors that will determine whether oil and gas expansion happens in these vital forest basins.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that in order to limit global warming to within the threshold of 1.5°C, no further fossil fuel expansion must take place. However, with current forecasts, in 2030, governments’ production plans and projections would lead to around 240% more coal, 57% more oil, and 71% more gas than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

In a new report titled Crisis Point: Oil and Gas Expansion Threats to Amazon and Congo Basin Tropical Forests and Communities, published by Earth InSight, research findings underscore the global need to end financing for all oil and gas expansion — especially in these and other critical forest basins and ecosystems.

Key findings show that:

Amazon and Congo basins combined

  • Over 135 million hectares of intact  tropical forest – an area nearly six times the size of the United Kingdom – has been designated as oil and gas blocks (areas already in production or slated for  exploration and production)
  • More than 20% of the total population in these regions or up to 45 million people (inclusive of Indigenous and local communities) now dwell in oil and gas blocks
  • More than 26,000 populated places (villages, towns, cities, etc.) overlap with oil and gas blocks in these key tropical forest regions.

Time still remains and solutions exist

Oil and gas drilling is a gateway to deforestation and new policies and financial mechanisms are critical to prevent the expansion of oil and gas in critical areas. Solutions and reference points include:

  • Commitments from banks like ING, BNP Paribas, HSBC, and others to stop financing oil and gas expansion globally and/or focused on critical forest basins and ecosystems (consistent with the principles of the Exit Amazon Oil and Gas Platform)
  • New frameworks for financing bold climate and biodiversity action including the 10-Point Plan for Financing Biodiversity
  • A moratorium on all industrial activity in primary and priority forests until 2050 in order to safeguard critical ecosystems and Indigenous lands while allowing time and space to develop appropriate plans and financing
  • The Amazonia for Life: 80% by 2025 Declaration from Indigenous federations across the Amazon calling for expanding indigenous rights, territories, and funding, conditioned debt forgiveness, clean financing and supply chains, and ending extractive activities in primary and priority forests
  • Widespread commitments to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • Unlocking the vast potential in renewables and scaling up direct support to forest communities and other frontline forest defenders.

A short video highlighting the need for banks and members of the World Economic Forum to end financing for oil and gas expansion globally and urgently in the Amazon and Congo basins can be found here.

The Crisis Point report was released in December 2022 during UN Biodiversity COP 15. It offers a stark reality check regarding the threat that oil and gas expansion plans pose to the world’s two largest tropical rainforests and the Indigenous and local communities who live within them. This research also builds on findings that were co-published with Rainforest Foundation UK in Congo in the Crosshairs and released at the UN COP 27 climate conference in November 2022.  It also builds upon the research of RAISG and the Amazonia Under Pressure series as well as Amazonia Against the Clock published by the Amazonia for Life: 80% by 2025 coalition.

Media contacts

Earth Insight: Tyson Miller, Executive Director: +1828-279-2343 /

Rainforest Foundation UK: Joe Eisen, Executive Director, +44 774 746 2452 / and Jak Wagnon, Communications Coordinator +447976039214 / Matt Krogh, Amazon Program Co-Director, +1 360-820-2938

Media interviews with Amazonian and/or Congolese partners available upon request

Download this press release

Full Three Basins Threat Report: 
click here

Executive Summary of Three Basins Report:

English: click here

French: click here

Spanish: click here

Folder with report maps, organized by region – click here

Statement click here