Seven South American countries have agreed measures to protect the Amazon river basin, amid global concern over this year’s massive fires in the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Seven Amazon countries sign forest pact, promising to coordinate disaster response
Seven Amazon countries signed a pact on Friday to protect the world’s largest tropical rainforest in response to the record-breaking number of wildfires that have blazed through the Amazon rainforest this summer, reported EcoWatch. — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname agreed to create a network to coordinate their responses to disasters like this summer’s fires. They also pledged to increase satellite monitoring of deforestation, share information on threats to the forest such as illegal mining, develop reforestation and education initiatives and increase the participation of Indigenous communities.
4 Presidents, a Vice President, a foreign minister and a natural resource minister signed the pact
"This meeting will live on as a coordination mechanism for the presidents that share this treasure―the Amazon," Colombian President Ivan Duque said of the gathering, according to Reuters.
Fires in Brazil, which contains 60% of the Amazon within its borders, are up 83% this year compared to last. Fires are also raging in Bolivia on its border with Brazil and Paraguay the BBC reported.
The meeting was held in Leticia in the Colombian Amazon. In addition to Duque, it was attended by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Suriname’s Vice President Michael Adhin, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo and Guyana’s Natural Resource Minister Raphael Trotman.
Some indigenous leaders have expressed doubts about how effective the pact would be
Indigenous leaders from Amazon communities impacted by fires and deforestation were also in attendance at the meeting, however some expressed doubts over how effective the pact would be. National Indigenous Organization of Colombia coordinator Nelly Kuiru told Al Jazeera that the pact was "very vague."
"I think it is important the presidents took the time to come to one of the Amazon’s regions, in Colombia, and sign the pact. But I have doubts about it," she said. "I doubt the pact will be fulfilled, because to make a pact there first of all has to be an analysis of what is happening."
Moira Birss of conservation and Indigenous rights group Amazon Watch agreed. She said that the pact did not list the specific causes of deforestation and did not make a clear enough connection between deforestation and the climate crisis.
"This is problematic both because ample scientific research has demonstrated the serious climate impacts of tropical forest deforestation, and because the direct causes of Amazon deforestation and degradation are widely known to be industrial activities like agribusiness and mining," she wrote in a statement.
Birss also pointed out that the language of the text implied that signatories saw the Amazon more as an economic asset than a vital ecosystem:
"Furthermore, the pact’s frequent mention of the ‘value’ of the trees and biodiversity of the Amazon, and of the ‘development’ of its natural resources, seem to indicate that the signatories view the rainforest as a commodity to be exploited rather than a vital ecosystem and the ancestral home to indigenous peoples that must be protected.
"This reading of the pact is supported by recent events: this week the Bolsonaro administration has pushed for even more rollbacks to environmental protections in the country’s Forest Code, and Ecuador’s new Environment Minister declared on Wednesday that, "where there are natural resources, there will be extraction.’
"Responses to the Amazon fires will never be effective in protecting the rainforest unless they confront the key driver of Amazon deforestation: profit-seeking at the expense of the rights of forest peoples and environmental protection."
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