Chad Halts Lake’s World Heritage Status Request over Oil Exploration

  • Chad has asked to suspend an application for world heritage site status for Lake Chad to explore oil and mining opportunities in the region.
  • Unesco, the body which awards the world heritage designation.
  • The letter asks Unesco to “postpone the process” in order to “allow [us] to redefine and redesign the map to avoid any interference in the future”.
  • The request follows a multiyear process involving the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria to jointly nominate the Lake Chad cultural landscape to the Unesco world heritage list.
  • It has been nominated as both a natural and a cultural site.
  • The lake itself spans the border of Chad and Cameroon, while the Lake Chad basin straddles all four countries.
  • Lake Chad, is the setting for one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises, triggered by factors including the climate crisis, religious extremism, population displacement and military operations. Boko Haram has used the lake as a hideout.
  • Lake Chad has been physically under threat since the 1970s, when it began receding owning to a drought.
  • Rivers feeding into the lake were drying up, and by the end of the 1990s, it had shrunk to roughly 2,000 sq km, a 95% decline from its peak.