The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, a multi-sector movement that gathers more than 370 members from the private sector, finance, the academia, and civil society organizations, considers it timely to launch the public consultation for the 4th phase of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation and Fire in the Cerrado Biome (PPCerrado). Progress on Brazil’s decarbonization agenda, global food security and the development of the agricultural sector all depend on this biome. Therefore, just as we positively assess the new phase of the PPCDAm, announced in June, we also celebrate the broadening of this debate to the Cerrado.
The launch of the public consultation is in line with the Coalition’s proposal to restructure and implement the PPCerrado, as presented in the document ” The Brazil of Tomorrow: proposals for the country’s agro-environmental agenda from now on“, which contains 33 recommendations for the next four years of current federal government administration. The document, which was launched in November last year and handed over to the government’s transition team, foresaw such emergency measures as early as the first day of the new presidential term.
We emphasize the relevance of the cross-cutting nature of the PPCerrado, as demonstrated by the management of the Permanent Interministerial Committee for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation, which involves the collaboration of 17 ministries, in addition to the Environment and Climate Change portfolio, which is responsible for the committee’s secretariat, and the Presidential Office of the Chief of Staff, which chairs the group.
We also celebrate the Plan’s proposal to promote collaborative work between the Federal Government and the states of the Cerrado to achieve better results in controlling deforestation and forest fires through structuring actions, by means of the State Plans for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation and Fires (PPCDQs in Portuguese acronomy). The states have a key role in moving forward with the analysis of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR). It is also worth noting how much municipalities can potentially do to prevent and control deforestation, which is why we stress the value of training them and liaising with states and the federal government, even if it is through organizations that represent them.
According to the document released for public consultation, the government recognizes that the PPCerrado has benefited from dialogue with civil society and the academia on several occasions. We stress that it is indeed essential to ensure this ongoing dialogue, seeking suitable ways and instruments to monitor and hear from society on an ongoing basis.
The Plan, with its four axes that bring not only targets related to command and control, but also alternative approaches and economic instruments that enable development without deforestation, presents a systemic view that we consider fundamental, especially for the Cerrado. It’s where half of Brazil’s soy exports come from and 55% of national beef production. If farming and cattle-raising were not part of the biome, the Brazilian economy and its role in global food security would not be as large as it is today.
However, the Cerrado, the most biodiverse savannah on Earth, which shelters the headwaters of eight of Brazil’s river basins, has already lost more than half of its vegetation cover, with devastation continuing to advance. According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), there was a 21% increase in the suppression of original vegetation in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year. More than 500,000 hectares were cleared between January and July this year. This rate is significantly increasing inside large private properties, and more than half of the occurrences are related to illegal practices.
It’s worth noting that 62% of the native vegetation that still exists in the Cerrado is on private property, according to the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM). As the Forest Code allows landowners to clear up to 80% of the vegetation within this biome, it is vital to find cost-effective alternatives aimed at encouraging the maintenance of this land cover. Commodity production must also be strongly encouraged to eradicate deforestation from its production chain, an initiative that would promote environmental conservation and comply with changes in legislation in those countries that import Brazilian products, as well as the European Union. Therefore, aiming to detach agricultural products from deforestation, we advocate for the establishment of a national monitoring, traceability and transparency system which comprehends the complexity of commodity chains. The Coalition believes that this is an initiative that deserves special attention in the PPCerrado.
The Coalition’s contributions, which are detailed in this document’s annex, also emphasize the relevance of restoring native vegetation in terms of conserving the biome and recovering ecosystem services, as well as its potential for job and income generation and for meeting Brazil’s restoration targets, especially under the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, it is of great interest to the Cerrado to implement measures aimed at monitoring and managing forest fires, promoting low-carbon agriculture, incentives for sustainable family farming – including access to both credit and technologies – along with the integration of programs designed for small producers, such as Technical Assistance and Rural Extension (ATER), Green Grant program (Programa Bolsa Verde) and Light for All program (Programa Luz para Todos). Moreover, it becomes paramount to merge the databases of the National Rural Environmental Registry System (SICAR) and the Land Registry, as this would make it possible to promote environmental and land regularity in the same effort. This action would also help to enhance traceability in production chains and socio-environmental monitoring in general.
In this regard, we emphasize the importance of facilitating active transparency to ensure the use of data by the different stakeholders in society. Transparency is necessary for any set of federal systems, as well as for integration and interoperability between systems and with state and municipal databases. It is worth stating that the Plan was perceived as positive in that it included some sections that had evolved in relation to the PPCDAm at the time it was presented for public consultation. Many of the contributions that were previously submitted in relation to the PPCDAm have already been incorporated and adapted in this version of the PPCerrado, which shows how beneficial these processes of broad listening to society can be in relation to the development of public policies.
Although the PPCerrado contains a definition of “zero deforestation” within the scope of the Plan – as the Coalition had suggested for the PPCDAm – we stress that it is important that the term is used consistently throughout the text and the different axes, objectives, expected outcomes and courses of action.
The Plan suggests that indicators and targets will be included in its summary table. However, the absence of such indicators in the preliminary version of the Plan, which has been opened for public consultation, in combination with the establishment of broad and generic courses of action, makes it difficult to understand what specific actions will be taken to achieve expected results. The Coalition hopes that targets, indicators, deadlines, and key players are described in the final version of the Plan, as was done for the PPCDAm, which will significantly support the Plan’s effective implementation and monitoring. We also suggest that the summary table should identify the degree of complexity of implementing the actions, as well as their level of priority (high, medium, and low).
As a multi-sector movement, our vision is that it is only possible for Brazil to move towards sustainable, fair, and inclusive development by putting an end to deforestation and promoting an economy based on standing forests, low-carbon activities, and social inclusion. To this end, it is crucial that action plans to prevent and control deforestation and degradation are part of a national strategy that addresses all the country’s biomes.
We reaffirm the importance of implementing the PPCerrado, which, in its previous phases, achieved positive outcomes in reducing the rate of deforestation, and the need for joint and coordinated action by all sectors of society to tackle the challenges the biome faces. The Coalition is committed to contribute to this agro-environmental agenda and will continue to work alongside its members and partners to create Brazil’s sustainable future.The following contributions were drawn up through a broad consultation involving dozens of members from the thematic Task Forces representing the different sectors joined by the Coalition. They are separated by objectives and can be found as an Annex, in Portuguese, here.