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Taking back control of deforestation and combating illegality are premises for a Brazil that wants to be an agri-environmental leader

Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture Manifesto to the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro.

The more than 200 members of the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, a group that brings together representatives of agribusiness, environmental protection, the financial sector, and academia, express their concern about the escalation of deforestation and illegal activities in the forest. We ask the government to use all the necessary instruments to curb these practices.

Today, over 90% of deforestation in the Amazon is illegal. Other crimes are associated with this grave scenario, such as drug trafficking and tax evasion. The current government must take the necessary measures, since it has at its disposal the military and police apparatus and, therefore, should be a reference in the fight against illegality.

It is necessary to regain control of deforestation. We have already experienced periods when a significant drop in deforestation occurred amid a cycle of leaps in agricultural productivity. This history shows that deforesting is not necessary to increase agricultural production.

Agribusiness is being hampered by illegal gangs, tarnishing the industry’s reputation, increasing legal uncertainty and unfair competition for producers and companies.

Field security also involves fighting forest fires. Although fire is regularly used in some agricultural practices, it is also used as a means to illegally open areas in the forest. The relationship between deforestation and fire is particularly strong in 2019. More fires in a milder drought year indicate that deforestation may be a driving factor of the flames. Combating illegal deforestation also involves curbing invasions of indigenous lands or protected areas, including for the purpose of illegal mining.

The government should create incentives for law enforcement, controlling criminal actions and increasing vigilance over clandestine activities. This is a common agenda between agribusiness and climate and environmental organizations.

It is also an agenda of interest to investors, as agricultural activities are directly linked to the climate issue, which affects a wide range of economic sectors. Climate change could cause significant financial losses, such as the California drought in 2015, which resulted in an estimated $ 2.7 billion in agricultural losses. On the other hand, Brazil has a great opportunity to attract new resources from national and international investors if it is able to monetize its environmental assets. In addition to remunerating the maintenance of the standing forest, these resources can have direct effects on our economy, for example, by incorporating the value of Brazilian environmental assets into the country’s GDP.

Science corroborates the urgency of actions to combat climate change. The latest IPCC report makes it clear that there is no shortage of evidence on the urgency of the issue. Brazil, the global leader in remote sensing technologies, increasingly needs to use its scientific data to improve its public policies.

The challenge is great, but the country has a lot to gain. With its strong and competitive agribusiness, Brazil needs to secure the post of agri-environmental power, as it is home to the largest rainforest in the world, the highest biodiversity rates and 12% of the planet’s freshwater. To this end, government policies need to focus efforts on addressing the climate crisis, controlling deforestation and illegality in the field and promoting sustainable agribusiness, enabling not only the fulfillment of the Paris Agreement, but also increasing the ambition of its goals to ensure the planet’s climate, water and food security.

The Brazilian Coalition, on behalf of the sectors it represents – agribusiness, environmental protection agencies, academia and the financial sector – wants to help the government advance this agenda in a participatory and collaborative manner. The movement has a set of proposals that have been presented to various ministries and legislative representatives. Beyond administrations, this is a long-term state agenda and the path to sustainable development for Brazil.

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