Why You Need To Pay Attention To The Amazon Summit

By Charlie Colville

10 months ago

Here's what's happening at this year's summit

Leaders of the countries that make up the Amazon rainforest have gathered this week – for the first time in 14 years – to discuss how governments can curb deforestation and environmental crime. Here’s what’s happening at the 2023 Amazon Summit.

Latest Updates From The Amazon Summit

Amazon rainforest

Lightscape, Unsplash

Amazon Leaders Call On Other Countries To Help Save Rainforest

10 August 2023: Amazon leaders called for debt relief in exchange for climate action in a joint declaration at the end of the summit on Wednesday, claiming that since resources from the rainforest were consumed globally it could not just be up to them to ensure its survival.

‘The forest unites us. It is time to look at the heart of our continent and consolidate, once and for all, our Amazon identity,’ said Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. ‘The Amazon is our passport to a new relationship with the world, a more symmetric relationship, in which our resources are not exploited to benefit few, but rather valued and put in the service of everyone.’

Source: The Guardian

Amazon Leaders Fail To Commit To End Deforestation By 2030

10 August 2023: Activists have expressed disappointment after members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization did not agree on a shared commitment to end deforestation by 2030. The eight countries were also unable to agree on a united position on how to approach the future of beef, oil and mining industries, which are some of the main causes on environmental destruction in the region.

‘Temperature records are broken every day, it’s not possible that under those circumstances, the eight presidents of the Amazon nations can’t include a line in the declaration stating, in bold letters, that deforestation needs to be zero, that it won’t be tolerated any more,’ Márcio Astrini of the Climate Observatory group said.

Source: BBC

Amazon Countries Release Belém Declaration

9 August 2023: A joint statement, called the Belém Declaration, released by the eight countries that share the Amazon basin has declared that the countries have formed an alliance to combat deforestation, although each country will pursue its own conservation goals.

Delivered by Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the statement outlined that the alliance would aim to ‘prevent the Amazon from reaching a point of no return’, with emphasis on commitments to enhance co-operation on issues like water management, health, sustainable development and common negotiation positions at global summits. It also said a law enforcement centre would be opened in the Brazilian city of Manaus to promote cooperation among regional police forces, as part of plans to tackle organised and environmental as well as human rights violations against Indigenous people and activists.

‘The rainforest is neither a void that needs occupying nor a treasure trove to be looted. It is a flowerbed of possibilities that must be cultivated,’ said Lula. He also referenced a pledge to achieve zero deforestation by 2030 (although it was noted that this was not a goal shared by all countries within the region). ‘The Amazon can be whatever we want it to be: an Amazon with greener cities, with cleaner air, with mercury-free rivers and forests that are left standing; an Amazon with food on the table, dignified jobs and public services that are available to all; an Amazon with healthier children, well-received migrants [and] Indigenous people who are respected … This is our Amazon dream.’

Sources: BBC & The Guardian

What Is The Amazon Summit?

The Amazon Summit is a meeting between representatives from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, forming part of the two-day Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) summit (the first since 2009). The eight nations in South America that make up the Amazon rainforest will be sending their leaders to meet in Brazil this month, where they will be discussing how they can collaboratively work to tackle challenges to its ecosystem.

‘This is a landmark meeting. It will mark a turning point in the history of protecting the Amazon and the green transition,’ said Brazil’s recently appointed president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. ‘It has never been so urgent to resume and expand that cooperation. The challenge of our era and the opportunities that arise will demand joint action.’

As one of the world’s most crucial carbon sinks, the Amazon rainforest is responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide emissions. While the rainforest itself is twice the size of India, rampant deforestation is causing it to rapidly shrink (while destroying important natural resources) – leaving more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which in turn leads to reduced rainfall and higher temperatures.

Brazil is home to around two-thirds of the Amazon. The country’s previous president, Jair Bolsonaro (2019 to 2022), pushed for increased economic development in the region while curtailing the powers of the environmental and Indigenous affairs departments, greatly increasing the deforestation rate of the rainforest. The Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Pact also indicates that carbon emissions from the Amazon increased by 117 percent in 2020 compared with the annual average for 2010 to 2018, with cattle ranching and soybean farming expanding dramatically.

What Will Be Discussed?

The main points of conversation at the summit will be strategies to fight deforestation and organised crime. There will also be conversations around how sustainable development can be incorporated into the region, which is home to 50 million people (including hundreds of Indigenous groups).

The summit is expected to end with a joint declaration outlining an agenda for the next few years, with some concrete dates to achieve certain goals.

Another point of conversation expected to come up is Brazil’s plans for oil drilling near the mouth of the Amazon River, where the government is considering whether to develop and offshore oil field. At a pre-summit meeting last month in Colombia, Colombian president Gustavo Petro urged Brazil to block all new oil development in the Amazon. At the same meeting, Lula pushed for all countries that make up the Amazon to pledge an end to deforestation by 2030 – only Bolivia and Venezuela have yet to commit.

When & Where Is It?

The summit will take place in Belem, Brazil on the 8 and 9 August 2023.

Featured image: Ivars Utinas, Unsplash