Leaders of eight South American nations that share the Amazon rainforest have reached an agreement on a broad set of principles aimed at protecting and preserving the region.
The declaration was reached by member nations of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization Tuesday in Belem, capital of the Brazil’s Amazon state of Para, where the group is holding a two-day summit. The nations pledged to cooperate on cracking down on illegal activities that are contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon, promote sustainable development and ensure the rights of the rainforest’s indigenous people.
But the declaration did not include Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s call to end illegal deforestation by 2030, as well as a call from President Gustavo Petro of Colombia to end all oil exploration in the Amazon. Petro’s demand put President Lula in an awkward position, as Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras oil company has been seeking to establish new oil drilling platforms at the mouth of the Amazon.
The Colombian leader also called on affluent nations to cancel Amazon nations’s debt in exchange for action on combating climate change.
The ACTO summit is the first since 2009 for the 28-year-old organization, which includes Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and host Brazil. The summit takes place as more than ten percent of the rainforest has been lost in recent decades due to unregulated cattle ranching and farming, illegal mining and logging and oil drilling. Much of the loss is in Brazil, which is home to two-thirds of the rainforest.
The Amazon has been described as a “carbon sink” that can easily absorb carbon from emissions, making it a vital resource in reducing the effects of climate change. Scientists say the loss of between 20% and 25% of the Amazon region would be a “tipping point” that would transform it into a source of carbon emissions.
The summit was part of President Lula’s campaign platform last year in which he pledged that "Brazil is back" in the fight against climate change after a period of surging destruction in the Amazon under his far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
The meeting was also something of a dress rehearsal for the COP30 U.N. climate talks, which will be held in Belem in 2025.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse.