Belém Representatives of jungle nations in Africa and Southeast Asia joined a summit of South American nations in the Amazon on Wednesday to devise a joint protection plan for those ecologically diverse regions that are crucial to combating climate change.
On Tuesday, the presidents and ministers of eight countries in the Amazon region signed a declaration of their plans to boost their countries’ economic development while preventing the long-suffering region from “reaching a point of no return.” Some scientists say that when 20 to 25% of the forest is destroyed, precipitation will drop dramatically and more than half of the forest will turn into tropical savanna with massive loss of biodiversity.
The eight countries — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela — that are members of the recently revived Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OTCA) hope a united front will give them a greater presence in global environmental talks ahead of the COP 28 climate conference in November.
Several environmental groups expressed disappointment with Tuesday’s statement, which they viewed as a compilation of good intentions with few concrete goals and timelines. For its part, the largest indigenous peoples’ organization in the region declared its satisfaction with the inclusion of its two main claimants.
The meeting was joined by the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the envoy of the Indonesian President and the French Ambassador to Brazil, representing French Guiana. The meeting was also attended by the President of Norway, the majority shareholder of the Brazilian Amazon Fund for Sustainable Development.
Officials from developing forest countries were expected to sign a joint document titled “United for Our Forests,” according to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s agenda.
The summit advances Lula’s strategy to promote global interest in preserving the Amazon. Encouraged by a 42% drop in deforestation in his first seven months in office, he sought international financial support to protect the forest.
The Amazon region extends over an area twice the size of India. Two-thirds of it is found in Brazil, while seven other countries and one territory share the remaining third. Historically, governments have viewed it as an area of colonization and exploitation, with little regard for the sustainability or rights of its indigenous peoples.
All countries present at the summit have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, which requires signatories to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Members of the ACTO, who are meeting for only the fourth time in 45 years of existence, showed on Wednesday that they are not quite forthcoming on crucial issues. The joint declaration did not include a joint commitment, already made by Brazil and Colombia, to reduce deforestation to zero by 2030.
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