Amazon nations seek common voice on climate change, urge action from industrialized world

by Chloe Baker
Amazon rainforest conservation

Eight nations in the Amazon region assembled at a significant summit in Brazil, where they sought to establish a united approach to combat climate change. These nations urged industrialized countries to intensify their efforts to conserve the world’s largest rainforest.

The South American leaders who convened in the city of Belem for a two-day gathering underscored that the responsibility of halting the destruction of the rainforest should not be borne by a few countries alone, but must be a collective effort, especially since many have contributed to the crisis.

Members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) believe that presenting a united front will enhance their influence in global negotiations.

The Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, emphasized the need to embrace the shared Amazon identity, stating, “The forest unites us. It’s time to turn our attention to the core of our continent and permanently solidify our connection to the Amazon.”

Calls from various leaders, including those from Brazil, Colombia, and Bolivia, come at a time when the nations are working to spur economic growth in their areas, while preventing the Amazon from reaching an irreversible point of destruction. A joint declaration warned that if 20% to 25% of the forest were destroyed, more than half of the rainforest could turn into tropical savannah, leading to significant biodiversity loss.

The summit also marks a part of Lula’s strategy to capitalize on worldwide concern for the Amazon, supported by a 42% reduction in deforestation since his time in office. Lula has also called for international monetary aid for forest conservation.

The Amazon region, which is double the size of India, mostly lies within Brazil’s borders, but seven other nations and one territory also hold portions. Historically, governments have exploited the area with minimal concern for sustainability or indigenous rights.

All the participating nations have ratified the Paris Agreement, obliging them to set goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. However, cross-border collaboration has been historically limited due to low trust, differing ideologies, and lack of governmental engagement.

While the ACTO members agreed on the necessity for shared global responsibility, the summit exposed that they were not fully aligned on critical matters. This meeting was the organization’s first in 14 years, and previous commitments to forest protection have been inconsistent.

A divisive issue among the nations was oil. Colombian President Gustavo Petro called for an end to oil exploration in the Amazon, contrasting Brazil and other oil-producing nations in the region. Petro also spoke about reforestation and planting strategies.

Lula, an advocate for environmental leadership, avoided a clear stance on oil, treating it as a technical issue. Meanwhile, state-run Petrobras in Brazil continues to pursue oil exploration near the Amazon River’s mouth.

Despite national disagreements, the summit showed signs of increased cooperation and the potential for the region to represent itself globally, especially with more funding for ACTO.

Leaders emphasized the Amazon’s significance in forging new global relationships, valuing resources for the benefit of all rather than exploiting them.

Bolivian President Luis Arce criticized capitalism for the victimization of the Amazon and pointed to industrialized nations as the main contributors to historic greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, Petro suggested that wealthy nations could exchange foreign debt for climate action within Amazon countries, leading to substantial investment for the region.

The Belem Declaration, signed by officials from eight nations, includes:

  • A condemnation of protectionist trade barriers that impact developing nations and hinder the promotion of Amazon products and sustainable growth.
  • A call for industrialized nations to fulfill their duties to offer extensive financial assistance to developing countries.
  • A commitment to strengthen legal cooperation, including sharing intelligence on illegal activities such as deforestation, human rights violations, and smuggling.

Colombia’s Petro even proposed a military alliance similar to NATO to protect the Amazon and fight organized crime.

The summit, which also welcomed representatives from other countries and rainforest regions, will continue to focus on sustainable development and cooperation to address the urgent needs of the Amazon region.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Amazon rainforest conservation

What was the main purpose of the summit in Brazil involving Amazon nations?

The main purpose of the summit was to establish a united approach among eight Amazon nations to combat climate change, urging industrialized countries to intensify their efforts to conserve the world’s largest rainforest.

Who were the key participants in the summit?

The key participants included leaders from South American nations home to the Amazon, such as Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, as well as officials from ACTO, Guyana’s prime minister, Venezuela’s vice president, and the foreign ministers of Suriname and Ecuador.

What major topic divided the nations at the summit?

One of the divisive issues at the summit was oil, with different stances on oil exploration in the Amazon region, particularly a call from Colombian President Gustavo Petro for an end to oil exploration.

What is the Belem Declaration?

The Belem Declaration is the gathering’s official proclamation, signed by officials from eight nations, which condemns protectionist trade barriers, calls on industrialized nations to provide financial support to developing countries, and commits to strengthening law enforcement cooperation.

What was Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s role in the summit?

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva played a vital role in emphasizing the need to embrace the shared Amazon identity and consolidate the Amazon region’s approach to climate change. He also advocated for international monetary aid for forest conservation.

How does the summit relate to the Paris climate accord?

All participating nations at the summit have ratified the Paris climate accord, obliging them to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The summit was aimed at cross-border collaboration and shared global responsibility in alignment with these goals.

What are some of the proposed solutions to protect the Amazon rainforest?

Some proposed solutions include calling for an end to oil exploration, pursuing reforestation strategies, exchanging foreign debt for climate action within Amazon countries, and strengthening legal cooperation on illegal activities such as deforestation and smuggling.

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KathyAnn August 9, 2023 - 6:03 am

They’re all talking but where’s the real action? Signing papers is nice, but i want to see real change! The Amazon cant wait much longer

Tom_Gr August 9, 2023 - 7:35 am

It’s crucial that they called for an end to oil exploration, they need to focus more on sustainability, what happens when 25% of the forest is gone? It’s a scary thought!

Mike91 August 9, 2023 - 6:08 pm

Great to see Brazil taking the lead. Lula seems to be making an effort, 42% drop in deforestation is big. They still got a long way to go but its a start.

Sarah_L August 9, 2023 - 8:05 pm

wow, never thought I’d see the day they all met together for climate change. but what’s up with the disagreement on oil, can’t they get on the same page?

James T August 9, 2023 - 10:11 pm

This is realy good news! Its about time the Amazon nations got together on this. hope industrialized nations will listen and act soon…


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