Position papers
  • 19-Nov
  • 2020

One of the main concerns of the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, a movement composed of over 250 representatives across agribusiness, civil society, financial sector and academia, is the fight against illegality in rural activities, including deforestation and predatory forest exploitation.

Recent studies show that over 90% of the deforestation in the Brazil is carried out illegally, and forest exploitation has similar rates. In addition to the environmental impact and tax damage, unpunished illegality creates unfair competition for those operating within the law.

In this scenario, Brazil misses out on an enormous opportunity, not only to guarantee a business environment in which the law is actually enforced, but to promote an economy that generates benefits far beyond the economic, such as, for example, forest concession models, that make wood production possible while preserving plant cover and generating green jobs. But the greatest obstacle to this model is precisely the legal uncertainty caused by the lack of supervision and command and control by the State. Other models that combine conservation and production of tropical timber are the silviculture of native species and agroforestry systems, which still need a special look to gain scale.

Unfortunately, the concern about this scenario is not new. For decades, illegality has been one of the main causes of violence in the field and of an environment that is out of business and the attraction of capital. However, with the increased deforestation rates observed in recent years, the fight against crime is even more urgent today.

Most of the Brazilian wood is consumed in the country. According to the Imaflora (Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification), in 2018, Brazilian states consumed 91% of all wood produced in the Amazon. The main producer states are Mato Grosso, Pará and Rondônia, with most of the wood from Mato Grosso and Rondônia supplying the South and Southeast regions, while Pará supplies much of the Northeast region.

No part of the production chains, both inside and outside the country, can be declared free from this issue, be it a company, trade, consumer and, of course, the government. If these parties bet on a solution and joint action, they win. But if one of these bonds does not fulfill role, everyone loses.

For this reason, the Brazilian Coalition is hopeful to see the manifestation of several voices from society that have become known to express their concern and commitment to sustainability. However, the crucial role of public authorities must be highlighted, as companies and investors are not – and should not –be a police force that deals with invasions, timber theft and other illegalities that contaminate the production chain, while affecting national and international markets and reinforcing other illegal activities.

Identifying the origin of Brazilian products and seeking traceability tools are daily challenges of the private sector, government and civil society that need to be accompanied by complete transparency of data, technology for better utilization and productivity (crop, extraction, sawmill, use, etc.), market development, diversification of uses and types of wood, as well as innovative mechanisms to finance the timber chain.

Brazil has sufficient knowledge, information and experience to immediately end the illegality of its production and to go beyond. But this will only be possible when all sectors, both public and private, integrate efforts, cooperate and take responsibility to face this challenge.

 


About the Brazilian Coalition
The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture is a multi-sector movement formed with the objective of proposing actions and influencing public policies that lead to the development of a low-carbon economy, with the creation of quality jobs and the fostering of innovation, Brazil’s global competitiveness and generation and distribution of wealth to the entire society. More than 250 companies, business associations, research institutes and civil society organizations have already joined the Brazilian Coalition - coalizaobr.com.br/en

  • 15-Sep
  • 2020

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, movement formed by 200+ representatives from agribusiness, financial sector, civil society and academia, presents strategic actions seeking fast, permanent reduced deforestation, especially in the Legal Amazon.

This short-term reduction - in a few months’ time - is critically important for Brazil. Not only because of the advanced social and environmental losses involved, but also due to the threat that forest destruction in the region poses to national economic issues. There is a clear, growing concern from different national and international society sectors with the advanced deforestation.

In the past few weeks, unprecedented mobilizations by investors and entrepreneurs have been announced. For example, Brazilian Embassies in eight countries received a statement of international investors about their concerns with environmental issues in the country. In addition, CEOs and sectoral entities also addressed Vice-President Hamilton Mourão, the Parliament and the Supreme Court with a statement requesting an end to deforestation in the Amazon. Those demonstrations were also followed by a letter of former finance ministers and former Central Bank presidents to President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil’s three largest private banks sent the government a plan for the Amazon.

Since its foundation in 2015¹, the Coalition has been working to halt forest destruction in the Legal Amazon. Given the seriousness of the current situation, its members propose a set of actions for the effective reduction of deforestation in the short term. There is a total of six proposed actions that seek to intervene in the advanced deforestation causes.

 

• Action # 1: To resume and enhance surveillance, with rapid and exemplary accountability of identified environmental illegalities.

In order to resume and enhance enforcement actions, it is necessary to support and expand the use of intelligence and expertise of Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) and Funai (National Indian Foundation), aiming at holding offenders accountable for environmental crimes through agile, broad and efficient punishment. In this sense, full compliance with applicable law, including in-field destruction of equipment used by environment criminals is important. The use of technology to implement this action is also crucial. Resuming Ibama's Remote Control Operation², successfully implemented in 2016 and 2017, should be strongly considered.

Rationale: The government's performance, in its task of enforcing environmental law, has historically resulted in rapid and regional reduced deforestation in the Amazon. The environmental enforcement agencies have had successful experiences. Operation Remote Control, for example, is efficient in remote notification of rural landowners and squatters who illegally deforest. Notifications and embargoes can be carried out simply and almost automatically, by crossing deforestation data with information from official databases, such as: the Rural Environmental Registry System (SICAR, in the Portuguese acronym) or Land Tenure records (which allow the identification of the land holder) and Vegetation Suppression Authorizations (ASV, in the Portuguese acronym). There are over 70,000 reports available that apply this methodology in the system MapBiomas Alerta, which was developed in cooperation with Ibama . The methodology used in this operation is similar to that recently proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture for land settlement in the Amazon, an even more complex issue than the remote embargo on illegally deforested areas and the accountability of violators.


• Action # 2: To suspend Rural Environmental Registry (CAR, in the Portuguese acronym) covering public forest and accountability for any illegal deforestation.

To proceed with the immediate suspension, in the Rural Environmental Registry System (SICAR), of records overlapping public forests areas (conservation units, indigenous lands, unsettled public forests, etc.) listed in the National Registry of Public Forests (CNFP, in the Portuguese acronym) of the Brazilian Forestry Service.

Rationale: According to Law No. 11,284/2006, forests in public areas can only be used for sustainable use by allocating them to protected areas (indigenous lands, Conservation Units etc.) and to community use (such as quilombola territories³) or forest concession through bidding. The CAR records on public forests are therefore irregular and must be suspended until it is fixed or canceled by SICAR. There are over 11 million hectares of CARs4 declared over public forests that are eventually used to legitimize land grabbing processes. Classifying these CAR records on public forests as “suspended” will allow all actors in both public and private sectors to clearly distinguish these records from those classified as “pending”, which would be subject to approval or confirmation by the system. Such change will also allow the CAR declarants on public forests to be held accountable for any illegal deforestation that occur in the registered area.


• Action # 3: To reserve 10 million hectares for protection and sustainable use.

To select, within 90 days, from the National Register of Public Forests, a 10 million hectare area that can be assigned as a protected area for restricted and sustainable use in regions under strong deforestation pressure.

Rationale: An action to allocate a volume of forests as proposed may have three immediate results: 1) A clear signal to the land grabbers that government action is underway and that the invasion of public land will not be tolerated; 2) It has already been scientifically demonstrated that the creation of protected areas results in a general fall in the rates of Amazonian deforestation and permanent forest protection5; and 3) Reduced emissions from deforestation and maintenance of carbon stocks. This was the case, for example, with the creation of 24 million hectares of protected areas in the Terra do Meio region, in the Brazilian state of Para. About 40% of the drop in rates that occurred between 2005 and 2008 are attributed to the destination of these areas6.


• Action # 4: To grant financing per social and environmental criteria.

The National Monetary Council must require that rural and agricultural credit institutions adopt stricter practices and criteria for checking environmental risks, such as proof of the absence of illegality in properties, including the CAR check and other requirements related to compliance with the Forest Code and overlapping in public lands. When any CARs with deforestation after July 2008 is observed, their credit operations must be blocked until the individual responsible for the CAR presents the financial institution with the vegetation clearing authorization related to the deforested area issued by the responsible agency. The authorization is valid for the period of time the deforestation took place. Properties that have deforested beyond the limits of the Forest Code, before July 2008, must inform adherence to the Environmental Regularization Program (PRA, in the Portuguese acronym) and submit a plan to recover the environmental liability to the financial institution.

Rationale: More demanding actions (associated with due compliance with legislation) for granting credit have already shown good results in the past in curbing illegal deforestation in private areas7.


• Action # 5: Full transparency and efficiency to vegetation clearance authorities.

State-level environmental agencies must make data on vegetation clearing authorizations public. Therefore, such authorizations must be shared at the Sinaflor (National System for the Control of the Origin of Forest Products). In addition, the federal government must suspend the controversial Ministry of Environment’s Normative Instruction (IN 03/2014) which limits access to information critical to the identification (Individual or Corporate Taxpayer Id. – CPF or CNPJ, respectively) of those responsible for the CAR linked to deforestation and which clearly conflicts with the Access to Information Act and other legal frameworks associated with transparency.

Rationale: Transparency of information helps to tell apart producers who follow the law from those who engage in wrongdoing. Such action results in two basic benefits: The positive reinforcement of legal and deforestation-free production, and both monitoring and identification by society, the private sector and illegal deforestation control bodies. In this sense, transparency for the identification of the CAR holder is key for market actors to point out farmers who follow the law and single out illegal ones.

 

• Action # 6: To suspend all land settlement processes for properties that have deforested after July 2008.

To suspend all land settlement processes for irregularly deforested areas after July 2008 until the areas are fully recovered. Those who deforest in an unregulated area commit environmental crimes and should not benefit from land settlement.

Rationale: Land grabbing is one of the main drivers of deforestation. When the settlement processes in public land cease, the main incentive to land grabbing and, consequently, to deforestation is eliminated.


The Brazilian Coalition is fully available to the Government, either to provide information, help to articulate with different sectors, or any additional support that can speed up the solution of this serious scenario.

 

The PDF document can be found here.

 

1 The fight against deforestation was the subject of several public manifestations of the Coalition and is also addressed in the main documents of the initiative, including the 2030-2050 Vision: The Future of Forests and Agriculture in Brazil.
2 Loss, H.F.N, R.L. de Oliveira, W.R. Rocha, A.P. Rodrigues. 2020. Teoria da Fiscalização Integral: uma ferramenta de combate ao desmatamento na Amazônia. Mongaby
3 They are the descendants and remnants of communities formed by fugitive enslaved people (the quilombos), between the 16th century and 1888 (when slavery was abolished) in Brazil.
4 Azevedo-Ramos, C. P. Moutinho, V. L. da S. Arruda, M.C.C. Stabile, A. Alencar, I. Castro, J.P. Ribeiro. 2020. Lawless land in no man’s land: The undesignated public forests in the Brazilian Amazon. Land Use Policy 99 (2020) 104863.
5 Walker, W. S. et al. 2020. The role of forest conversion, degradation, and disturbance in the carbon dynamics of Amazon indigenous territories and protected areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 117, n. 6, p. 3015–3025.
6 Soares-Filho, B., Moutinho, P., et al. 2010. Role of Brazilian Amazon protected areas in climate change mitigation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 107, n. 24, p. 10821–10826.
7 Assunção, J., C. Gandour, R. Rocha. 2013. Crédito Afeta Desmatamento? Evidência de uma Política de Crédito Rural na Amazônia. Climate Policy Initiative, Rio de Janeiro, Núcleo de Avaliação de Políticas Climáticas, PUC-Rio; http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Does-Credit-Affect-Deforestation-Executive-Summary-Portuguese.pdf.

  • 11-Sep
  • 2020

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, a movement formed by 200+ representatives from agribusiness, civil society, financial sector and academia, clarifies that it was not involved in any of the stages – conception, creation, launch or dissemination – of the “Defund Bolsonaro” campaign.

The clarification is necessary since some sectors have mistakenly related the Coalition to this campaign.

The Brazilian Coalition reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the dialogue between all sectors, in a respectful, proactive and constructive manner, as it is the basis of our movement.

 

 

About the Brazilian Coalition
The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture is a multi-sector movement formed with the objective of proposing actions and influencing public policies that lead to the development of a low-carbon economy, with the creation of quality jobs and the fostering of innovation, Brazil’s global competitiveness and generation and distribution of wealth to the entire society. More than 200 companies, business associations, research institutes and civil society organizations have already joined the Brazilian Coalition - coalizaobr.com.br/en

  • 17-Jul
  • 2020

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, a movement formed by 200+ representatives from agribusiness, civil society, financial sector and the academia, believes that Brazil can be a forest, agricultural, and biodiversity power while conserving and expanding the country's huge natural asset. But this model only makes sense if protection of indigenous people is guaranteed.

The contribution of indigenous territories to the integrity of the Amazon biome has been proven in several studies. In addition to protecting the environment, which also benefits agricultural production, their inhabitants represent an enormous wealth and socio-cultural diversity. For this reason, whenever the defense of the territories or the ways of life of Brazilian indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge are threatened, Brazil is also at risk.

Historically vulnerable to diseases and hostages to a poor health services structure, especially in the North, the country's 800,000+ indigenous people face a critical scenario amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from IPAM (the Amazon Environmental Research Institute), the mortality rate among indigenous people is more than double that of non-indigenous people. Given this threat, it is essential to reduce circulation between cities and indigenous communities.

For this reason, the Brazilian Coalition reinforces the urgency of implementing the Emergency Plan to Combat COVID-19 in Indigenous Territories, in order to ensure access to the preventive actions and services needed by these communities. In addition, the movement views with concern the Presidency's vetoes to basic guarantees that the plan's text brought. It also concerns the Government's actions to medicate these populations with medicine whose scientific evidence has been questioned by the medical profession and the World Health Organization. Therefore, the effective participation of indigenous peoples in performing the plan is a basic principle of respect and effectiveness.

When it comes to indigenous communities, the COVID-19 crisis has been exacerbated by the constant invasion of their lands, which not only increases crime rates in these territories, but also carries the virus to these populations. It is therefore urgent for the Executive Branch to comply with the decision of the Federal Appellate Court of the 1st Circuit, which determined the immediate withdrawal of all prospectors from the Ianomami Indigenous Land – estimated 20 thousand invaders – as well as the presence of public servants from Funai (National Indian Foundation), Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), and the military during the pandemic to curb illegality in these areas.

Ensuring the protection of indigenous peoples and communities during and after the pandemic is to ensure that Brazil promotes and respects human rights, the environment and agriculture, which depends on the environmental services of forests. This commitment benefits the country's image, the position of Brazilian products in international markets and the people who live in and protect the forest. That is why the interest in the safety and well-being of the original peoples is of all Brazilians and a duty of the State and, thus, requires immediate Government measures.

 

About the Brazilian Coalition
The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture is a multi-sector movement formed with the objective of proposing actions and influencing public policies that lead to the development of a low-carbon economy, with the creation of quality jobs and the fostering of innovation, Brazil’s global competitiveness and generation and distribution of wealth to the entire society. More than 200 companies, business associations, research institutes and civil society organizations have already joined the Brazilian Coalition - coalizaobr.com.br/en

  • 15-Jul
  • 2020

In recent days, important advances have been announced in the Brazilian rural credit, which may accelerate the adaptation to the Forest Code and the adoption of low carbon technologies in agriculture. The changes have already been incorporated in the Rural Credit Manual and are effective for all financial institutions since July 6, 2020.

One of the incentives to the Forest Code is the Brazilian Central Bank Rule N. 4824, which on June 18 set out the increased defrayal credit limit by up to 10% for producers who submit the validated Rural Environmental Register (CAR).

When the CAR registration became mandatory for granting credit (Rule N. 4663, valid as of 01/01/2019, except for some producer profiles, and Resolution 4828, valid as of 07/01/2020, without exceptions), there was a great incentive to register rural properties. For this reason, when requiring the CAR validated for the extension of the credit limit, an incentive to state agendas to advance this important stage of validation of registrations is created, so that we take another step forward in the implementation of the Forest Code. It is also a sign of alignment between the allocation of public resources and the interests of society.

Still in line with the Forest Code, whose article 41 encourages environmental adequacy and the adoption of good agricultural practices, the 2020/2021 Safra Plan, announced on June 17, brought relevant changes and encouragement.

Even in a pandemic scenario, there was an increase of 20% in the resources allocated to the ABC Program, the main support line for low carbon agriculture and for the adoption of good practices in the field. The reduced interest rate (Rule N. 4827) is another indication of this Program's differentiation, whose rates are second only to Pronaf (National Agriculture Support Program), aimed at small producers.

In addition, ABC Ambiental now also allows to finance the acquisition of Environmental Reserve Quotas (CRA) (Rules N. 4824 and 4827) to offset Legal Reserve areas. This measure can be one of the main bases for a market for Payments for Environmental Services in Brazil, encouraging preservation by owners with of forest surpluses and paying for this great contribution to society.

Such advances in rural credit are the result of a long history of dialogue between the Ministries of Economy and Agriculture with society as they heard suggestions on how to improve these tools. The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forest and Agriculture recognizes and congratulates the teams and leaders of these ministries for the changes, which had contributions from the movement's network, composed of 200+ representatives of agribusiness, civil society, financial sector and academia.

There are still major challenges for rural credit to continue moving towards sustainability. Financial institutions need to recognize the importance of the Forest Code in their risk assessment even more. This recognition can encourage the large-scale adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices, in order to contribute to the mitigation and adaptation to climate changes and to reduce the risk of investments. In addition, enabling technical assistance and rural extension to producers can boost investment credit taking.

It is important to remember, however, that nearly 70% of the total agribusiness credit in 2019 was contributed by the private sector and by capital from the rural producers themselves. The engagement and concern of private investors with the climate, forestry and agriculture agenda is key and has been growing.

For this reason, public and private credit policies need continuous improvement to ensure that all financing in Brazil complies with environmental legislation and induces sustainable land use. In this sense, rural properties that have illegal deforestation after 2008 should not access funds provided by the Safra Plan. The Brazilian Coalition will continue to be available to the government and society in order to improve these tools and gather the necessary efforts for their implementation.

 

About the Brazilian Coalition
The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture is a multi-sector movement formed with the objective of proposing actions and influencing public policies that lead to the development of a low-carbon economy, with the creation of quality jobs and the fostering of innovation, Brazil’s global competitiveness and generation and distribution of wealth to the entire society. More than 200 companies, business associations, research institutes and civil society organizations have already joined the Brazilian Coalition - coalizaobr.com.br/en

  • 05-Jun
  • 2020

During this World Environment Day, the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests, and Agriculture warns, once more, about the severe scenario of illegal deforestation and fire outbreaks in the Amazon. They have been representing a high risk to biodiversity, climate, water security, and have been devastating to traditional peoples and the country’s reputation for markets, investors, and society in general.

According to MapBiomas, 99% of all the deforestation in Brazil in 2019 has definite signs of illegal activities, i.e., occurred in protected areas that have restrictions regarding vegetation removal or without authorization. About 75% of deforestation in 2019 coincides with lands registered in the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR). Therefore, it is possible to associate an Individual or General Taxpayer Registry Number (CPF – for individuals and CNPJ – for businesses) with the area deforested.

A recent trend indicates the deforestation rate will set a new record of the decade in 2020. Data from INPE's DETER system registered 5,666 squared kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon deforested between August of 2019 and April of 2020, the equivalent of a 95% increase compared to the period between August 2018 and April 2019. In April, according to data from Imazon, Brazil has lost part of the Amazon Forest equivalent to the size of the city of Porto Alegre (RS). It was 529 square kilometers destroyed, an increase in 171% compared with April last year.

Studies from IPAM indicate that 2019’s fire season in the Amazon was connected to the increase in deforestation and not with the typical weather of the dry season in the region. Actions to combat the flames avoided that the fire scenarios in 2019 became even worse. However, they were not able to contain the increase in deforestation.

The Amazon Council needs to establish a coordinated and continuous action with all the Amazon region's environmental inspection agencies. Brazil has excellent laws that, if implemented, will bring answers to the fight against unlawfulness.

One of the central pillars of the maintenance of Amazon's integrity and its benefits to the country is the proper treatment of public areas in that biome, currently highly vulnerable. There was an increase in 50% of deforestation in Conservation Units, Indigenous Lands, unassigned areas and land without information between January and March 2020 compared to the same period last year. In these areas, land grabbing and theft of natural resources occur; both are crimes against public assets that demand effective and immediate action from the State. In addition to public assets damaging, land grabbing also has the indirect effect of associating the well succeeded and respectable Brazilian agriculture to land stealing, making this matter even more urgent to be solved.

It is necessary to act now to avoid that a more intense new season of deforestation and fires materialize this year, given the increase in deforestation in 2020 and adding the vegetation cut down in 2019 that has not been burned yet. It is essential to decree a fire moratorium from now until, at least, the end of the dry season.

To exacerbate this worrying scenario, the Executive Power, in May and April of 2020, has taken measures that compromise inspection and conservation of our forests. The dismissals in the inspection sector of IBAMA and the normative ruling of Funai to legalize farms in indigenous lands in the process of homologation go against combating environmental crimes. Such measures should be reviewed by the Amazon Council to avoid the weakening of the environmental institutions and policies.

The image and the commercial position of the country have never been so compromised. The collective work that took decades to build a good reputation is quickly being undone.

This scenario goes beyond environmental urgency. Brazil’s GDP and future growth are intrinsically connected to the protection of the Amazon. Businesses, particularly the agricultural sector, depend upon the maintenance of ecosystem services, such as the rain. Our forests act as Brazilian agriculture's "sprinkler." Besides the water, there are many other ecosystem services, such as pollination of crops, which directly benefits food production.

Also, today Amazon is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The crisis demonstrated the interdependence of the system and the need to integrate social and environmental dimensions.

There is no Brazil without an Amazon economically and socially prosperous, and environmentally preserved. The image of the forest and its populations preserved is the image of the country. Therefore, fighting against unlawfulness in the Amazon, based on permanent, continuous, and coordinated actions, with wide participation and support from society, is the only path possible for a Brazil that desires to be understood by the world as a nation that is serious, vigilant of its laws, and in search of sustainable trajectories of development.

Brazil had already shown that it is capable of behaving like that and has successful experience in drastically reducing deforestation when it implemented the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon. The sectors that are part of the Brazilian Coalition – with more than 200 representatives of agribusiness, civil society, financial sector, and academia – support the urgent resumption of this initiative as the solution.

 

About the Brazilian Coalition
The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture is a multi-sector movement formed with the objective of proposing actions and influencing public policies that lead to the development of a low-carbon economy, with the creation of quality jobs and the fostering of innovation, Brazil’s global competitiveness and generation and distribution of wealth to the entire society. More than 200 companies, business associations, research institutes and civil society organizations have already joined the Brazilian Coalition - coalizaobr.com.br/en