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Open letter in defense of the integrated development of the Amazon

To the Heads of State and Government of the Amazon countries,

It is heartening and noteworthy to see the Amazon countries engaged in a joint discussion around an integrated development agenda for the region. There are challenges shared by the eight nations gathered at the Amazon Summit, and the ability to overcome them will be enhanced if they are addressed on a cooperative basis.

Among the challenges shared, illegalities are a prominent concern. The first step to halt unlawful activities is to reinforce command-and-control policies, with environmental agencies acting firmly to tackle forest destruction. Evidence of this was the 83% drop in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2004 and 2012, driven by the implementation of the Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon, the PPCDAm. There is, therefore, expertise to prevent the clearing of native vegetation, the mass extinction of species, as well as contributing to the protection of local populations. Political will is needed to restore this learning and expand it to the entire Amazon, incorporating new technologies and knowledge into an ever more complex fight against environmental crimes.

Despite being essential, monitoring is not the only component needed to ensure a preserved, prosperous Amazon committed to social inclusion and economic development. It is also necessary to offer sustainable alternatives to those who make their living from deforestation and improper practices, and to prevent such activities from being considered attractive in the economic context.

After legislation was passed abroad prohibiting the import of commodities produced in deforested areas, the urgency of enhancing the traceability of production chains took on a new dimension. Tackling such a concern will require investments in tracking technologies and the georeferencing of several commodities, which have a significant weight in the Brazilian trade balance.

It is also worth mentioning the relevance of other drivers for job and income generation:

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, a multi-sectoral network of more than 350 members, including agribusiness entities, companies, civil society organizations, the financial sector and the academia, has been engaged in detailed discussions on these measures for eight years. The Coalition produces solid proposals for medium- and long-term implementation, convinced that Brazil can lead a new competitive, responsible, and inclusive low-carbon economy.

In this regard, strengthening the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) is in tune with the need to join efforts to fight illegal deforestation, land grabbing, the spread of organized crime, illegal mining on indigenous lands, and threats to environmentalists and human rights activists. ACTO must receive the support of countries and the international community worthy of the Amazonian challenge.

The Summit in Belém is the first step on a journey to build Brazil’s new economy based on tackling the climate threat, the biodiversity crisis, and the need to reduce inequality. In this respect, bringing the bioeconomy issue to the G20 in 2024, when Brazil will hold the presidency, is key.  Just as, in two years’ time, the country will host the first Amazon COP, also taking place in the capital of Pará. In 2025, more than 190 countries will gather in Brazil to discuss the broad climate change agenda. It should be up to the Amazon to show the international community how to implement activities that simultaneously ensure the protection, management, and restoration of the biome, as well as the well-being of its population. A bold alliance of Amazon countries has a tremendous role for the planet’s sustainable future. While the list of obligations is long, the opportunities are also manifold.

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