About us

The Congo Basin Science Initiative (CBSI) is an independent scientist-led platform that promotes long-term investment in science in the Congo Basin. Our mission is to transform our understanding of the world’s second largest extent of tropical forest, build scientific capacity in the region, and use this knowledge to support sustainable development.

The Congo Basin and its contiguous forests are the world’s second largest extent of tropical forest. Despite their importance to people and the planet, the Congo Basin receives little attention compared to the Amazon and Southeast Asian tropical forest regions. For example, Central Africa is one of only two regions worldwide without the data needed to assess past trends in extreme heat events. For the future, it is unknown howdeforestation and climate change may interact and drive widespread forest dieback, as shown for the Amazon. CBSI was formed to end the underinvestment in Congo Basin science and transform our understanding of this crucial region of our planet. 

A large group of scientists formed CBSI in response to a call by Environment Ministers from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and Republic of the Congo for greater investment in science to understand and protect central Africa’s forests. At the Congo Basin Science Meeting in 2023, scientists gathered in Libreville and agreed that CBSI should answer the following major questions: 

  1. How do central African ecosystems function as a regional physical entity and influence the changing Earth system? 
  2. How have these ecosystems, their biodiversity and the climate of the Congo Basin changed in the past, what is their current status, and how will they change in the future?
  3. How do these dynamic ecosystems, their biodiversity and the climate of the Congo Basin interact with global, regional and local human activity?
  4. How can scientific data inform climate-resilient sustainable land-use to improve health, eradicate poverty, increase economic prosperity, and achieve other sustainable development goals across the region?  

CBSI is led by a Scientific Steering Committee, including scientists from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, Cameroon and Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic, and experts from US, UK, France and Germany.

CBSI has written a Science and Capacity building plan, with contributions by over 100 regional experts to answer the four questions. We are now actively seeking resources to train hundreds of scientists to collect the data and do the analyses needed to answer the four questions outlined above.

Our model for the positive transformation of Congo Basin science is the experience in Amazonia, where the $200 million the Large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment, which consisted of 120 coordinated projects, trained hundreds of South American scientists and revolutionised the world’s understanding and appreciation of the Amazon forest by investing in climate and forest-related measurements across the region. 

CBSI brings together regional scientists, science stakeholders and other partners to jointly promote and coordinate opportunities for investments in science on the Congo Basin. CBSI is a coordination body, that connects, coordinates and facilitates and is not a major fund-holder.

We have a sister organisation, the Science Panel for the Congo Basin, an independent platform for scientists to conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing knowledge on the Congo Basin, its ecosystems and challenges. Both the Science Panel and CBSI coordinate closely.

CBSI is chaired by Professor Raphael Tshimanga of University of Kinshasa, DRC, and Professor Simon Lewis, of University of Leeds and University College London, UK.

Contact the CBSI Secretariat, at info@congobasinscience.net