Open letter to the candidates of the Brazilian presidential elections’ second round, Mr. Fernando Haddad and Mr. Jair Bolsonaro
October 24, 2018 – In this decisive moment for the future of the country, the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture reaffirms the important commitment the country has with the world to assure humanity’s food, water and climate security.
Agribusiness is essential to our economy’s prosperity, since it corresponds to more than 20% of the Brazilian GDP. Moreover, Brazil is the third largest agricultural producer of the world, responsible for 7% of the world production, as well as one of the largest biofuels and forest products producer. At the same time, the country owns the largest tropical forest of the planet and stands in the global rank as the seventh largest carbon emitter, having more than 65% of its emissions attributed to deforestation and farming.
Brazilian agriculture depends on climatic conditions, such as rain, humidity and temperature. These conditions can only be assured by forest conservation. Protected areas, for example, whether conservation units, indigenous lands or quilombola territories, help to preserve ecosystem services that are provided by forests and fundamental to agribusinesses, such as: water, erosion reduction, mitigation of climatic extremes, and the pollinators and habitat necessary to plague and disease controllers. For this reason, the Brazilian Coalition has been stating that agricultural production and environmental conservation have to walk alongside. Our development, prosperity and well-being depend on this balance!
In this context, the Brazilian permanence in the Paris Agreement, and the legislation and environmental conservation and sustainable agriculture agendas are important to the sector: they guarantee the correct pricing of the current and future production and the Brazilian insertion in the most demanding international markets, such as Europe and Japan, in addition to maintaining the country’s historical protagonism in climate change negotiations and mitigation. Moreover, they contribute to global efforts in avoiding the temperature rise above 1.5°C, according to the most recent IPCC report developed by more than six thousand scientists.
Proposals, such as merging the Agriculture and Environment Ministries, can threaten a necessary power equilibrium that has to be respected in the context of public policies. In the past few years, the Brazilian Coalition has been working with these ministries with the goal of contributing to these areas public policies so they are in synergy and complementarity. Both agendas (environment and agriculture) are essential to guarantee the balance between environmental conservation and sustainable production, and need to be equally weighted in government’s decision making. Moreover, the Ministry of Environment’s actions go beyond agricultural and forest issues, but they also involve licensing, pollution control, the use of chemical products, water safety, among others. The strengthening of federal institutions, such as IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation), is an essential condition to assure the government’s role in this agenda.
In this context, it is crucial to emphasize that the greatest part of deforestation in Brazil comes from illegal activity. Fighting this illegality should be any government’s priority. Therefore, strengthening control authorities – including the Public Prosecution –, remote sensing technologies and data transparency should be guarded as not only means for environmental protection, but also for protecting the great majority of rural producers, who follow the law and suffer from transgressor’s unfair competition. Command and control actions are necessary and desirable to fight illegal deforestation and repress the illegal trade of timber, livestock, grains and other products.
Besides inspecting, the government also needs to implement the Forest Code’s mechanisms, which aim at solving the country’s environmental liabilities and at valuing landowners that follow the legislation and contribute to forest conservation. The Brazilian Coalition was created in a turbulent political moment of the country, in which the actors of the climate, forests and agriculture agendas were disarticulated due to the many divergences over debates that resulted in the approval of the current Forest Code. It was the desire to gather efforts in searching for common goals that mobilized these actors again. Without democracy, dialogue and transparency, this alliance would never have been possible.
Our movement is proof of the value that the democratic exercise of dialogue among the different sectors of society can represent. The more than 180 members, among agribusiness representatives, environmental defense entities, academia and financial sector, don’t share the same point of view, but they believe in the plural dialogue to build bridges, come up with solutions, and search for consensus. For this reason, the Brazilian Coalition cherishes the democratic environment to manifest its members’ point of view, the trust and respect among parties, on behalf of a new economy: based on low carbon emissions, and biodiversity and ecosystems protection.
This diversity is the centerpiece to deal with 21st century and climate change’s challenges. Therefore, the respect to public institutions needs to be assured as a guarantee of a free environment for civil society’s activism and, at the same time, favorable to businesses. It is this dynamic that allows the country to listen and answer society’s interests.
Thus, the Brazilian Coalition reaffirms some of its principles, such as the importance of the Paris Agreement, of strengthening the fight against illegalities in the forest sector, of implementing the Forest Code and of democracy. We ask the second round presidential election candidates, Mr. Fernando Haddad and Mr. Jair Bolsonaro, to comply with this letter’s principles and make sure that they will be respected as an agenda of the government; an agenda earned by the Brazilian society. The Brazilian Coalition is a nonpartisan movement that presented 28 proposals to the main candidates of this year’s election. The Coalition will be available to dialogue with the new elected government, willing to contribute to the advance of our agenda and to the country’s sustainable development.