White has said the deal with Norway will allow the government “to improve the living standards of the Gabonese people by creating jobs and livelihoods, whilst also sustaining natural capital, and to preserve our natural treasures and biodiverse ecosystems.”

The Gabon-Norway partnership was announced just days after protestors took to the streets of several African cities and around the world to demand political action to combat climate change. It also comes as government, businesses, and civil society representatives gather in New York today (Sept. 23) for a special United Nations climate action summit.

While the Gabon-Norway deal is historic, it isn’t the first time an African country has promised to protect its natural resources for financial benefit. In a 2018 deal with the US-headquartered charity The Nature Conservancy, Seychelles agreed to swap part of its debt for a plan that designated nearly a third of its waters as protected areas.

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