I’m Christian and I work on the 350 Africa team. As a part of 350’s Earth Month spotlights, I’m writing to you today to tell you about our Fossil Free Virunga campaign.

First, some background…

Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park and home to a wealth of biodiversity including a quarter of the world’s mountain gorillas. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site located on the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It’s a place that’s deeply meaningful not just for the DRC or Africa, but the entire world.

The park has been threatened several times by the fossil fuel industry working with leaders in the DRC. In the past, our leaders have tried to award licenses to oil companies to drill in the park.

But due to local and international pressure, the companies halted oil exploration in the park for now — but they’re still very active in the region.

Through our Fossil Free Virunga campaign, we are calling on the Congolese government to immediately ban oil exploration licenses within these sensitive ecosystems.

So far we’ve collected 9,000 petition signatures, produced a documentary, and led mass protests during COP26. 

Take a look:

If these projects move forward, they would pose a risk to all the people who live in the surrounding area. Oil extraction destroys the environment and ecosystems, poisoning the water and soil that the community depends on for their survival and livelihoods — and contributes to climate chaos like droughts and floods.

Our leaders need to understand that the decisions they make are not decisions that are limited to today — they are decisions that will impact the future of our entire community and our climate future.

Our goal is to demonstrate that the Congolese community is actively against oil development in the park. Instead, we must redirect funding to sustainable, clean energy alternatives that safeguard the environment, lives, and livelihoods of communities in DRC.

Together we will show the government and oil companies that we are here, keeping watch.

The short term financial gains cannot compensate for the long term damage to our planet and communities. We need to focus on conservation rather than destruction.

In order to win, we need everyone across the globe to be involved. The power is within us and together we will win.

Thank you for taking the time to hear about our campaign, and happy Earth Month! Stay tuned for even more Earth Month Spotlights from around the world coming soon.

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