First-of-Its-Kind Science Panel for the Congo Basin Debuts at COP28

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 3 December, 2023 – Today at COP28 in Dubai, the Science Panel for the Congo Basin (SPCB) was launched as an independent platform for scientists from the region to synthesize the existing knowledge on the functioning of, and threats to, the Congo Basin and its ecosystems. Led by and comprised of scientists from across the region, the panel will also involve the support from leading international scientists and institutions engaged in research in the Basin. The primary objective of the Panel will be to provide an independent assessment of the Congo Basin by examining key questions related to its ecosystems, current impacts, and future threats from local, regional, and global human activity.

The Congo River Basin and its contiguous forests are the world’s second-largest tropical forest, comprising an area of 240 million hectares and providing key ecosystem services at local, regional, and global scales. Despite its critical importance to the region and its value in combating climate change, scientific institutions and research on the Congo Basin have been plagued by chronic underinvestment, reflected also in the limited engagement of local scientists in policy making. These challenges underscore the urgency and demand for locally-led holistic, transparent, and systematic scientific research on key dimensions of the state of the Basin’s ecosystems; on the implications of science-based policies for the long-term well-being of the region and the planet at large; and on the important opportunities for the conservation of nature and the long term sustainable development of the region’s people and communities.

The Science Panel for the Congo Basin will be led by three esteemed scientists from the region, to serve as its inaugural Co-Chairs:

  • Raphaël M. Tshimanga, Professor at the University of Kinshasa (DRC);
  • Lydie-Stella Koutika, Researcher at the Centre de Recherche sur la Durabilité et la Productivité des Plantations Industriales (Republic of Congo); and
  • Bonaventure Sonké, Professor at the University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon).

The SPCB is inspired by the Science Panel for the Amazon established in 2020, and aims to generate a multidisciplinary synthesis of the existing scientific knowledge on the Congo Basin, drawing from relevant social sciences, as well as indigenous and autochthonous knowledge. On the basis of this synthesis, the panel will further identify existing knowledge gaps, critical threats and potential tipping points that require policy attention and investments. 

Throughout its work, the SPCB will promote collaboration between the scientific community, indigenous researchers, and knowledge systems, as well as institutional coordination and information exchange among key stakeholders and policymakers. It will pursue an inclusive approach in its engagement of a wide range of scientists and partners to deliver a high-quality internationally peer-reviewed assessment, a first-of-its-kind report by the end of 2025, to be presented at COP30.

The SPCB is convened by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and will work closely with the Congo Basin Science Initiative, its sister initiative launched at the Three Basin Summit in Brazzaville in October 2023.

For more information on the Science Panel, visit

Media Contacts:

Alyson Marks | Head of Communications & External Relations, SDSN (English-speaking)
[email protected]

Harmonie Kobanghe, Science Panel for the Congo Basin (French-speaking)
[email protected]

About the Science Panel for the Congo Basin

The Science Panel for the Congo Basin (SPCB) is the first-of-its kind independent scientific panel dedicated to synthesizing existing knowledge of the status of, and threats to, the Congo Basin and its ecosystems. As the world’s second largest tropical forest, the Congo Basin is providing key services at local, regional, and global scales that are critical for limiting the impacts of climate change - and yet remains largely under-researched and chronically underinvested. The SPCB was established to mobilize scientists in the region to jointly address these challenges, inspired by the call of environment ministers and scientists across the region for renewed efforts, increased scientific investment, and involvement of science in policy making for the sustainable development of Congo Basin countries. Led by and comprised primarily of leading scientists from the region, the SPCB will undertake a comprehensive synthesis of the available scientific knowledge on the Congo Basin, including Indigenous peoples and autochthonous knowledge, to generate a high-quality independent assessment report to be presented at COP30. The assessment will be directed at policy makers to help inform and accelerate local and regional solutions to strengthen nature conservation and advance sustainable development, while also highlighting acute and potential tipping points, as well as critical areas and gaps requiring further scientific research. The panel is inspired by the successful Science Panel for the Amazon, convened by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). For more information, visit