The Amazon Summit, which took place this week in Brazil, has been welcomed by many as an important step towards adopting a regional approach to rainforest protection, but criticized by some for not mapping out concrete commitments to end deforestation, the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.
The summit, which was held in Belém, the capital of the Brazilian state of Pará, was attended Tuesday by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, which signed a declaration seeking to drive economic development in their countries while preventing the Amazon — the world’s largest tropical rainforest, famed for its biodiversity — “from reaching a point of no return.”
The eight nations are all members of recently revived Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), which is expected to give them a united voice ahead of the COP28 climate conference in November.
Several environmental groups, including global organizations WWF, Greenpeace and The Nature Conservancy and Brazil’s Observatório do Clima (Climate Observatory), described the declaration as a compilation of good intentions rather than a concrete plan with measurable goals and timeframes, according to the AP.
“The 113 operating paragraphs of the declaration have the merit of reviving the forgotten ACTO and recognize that the biome is reaching a point of no return, but doesn’t offer practical solutions or a calendar of actions to avoid it,” the Climate Observatory was quoted as saying in a statement.
However, the Amazon’s umbrella organization of Indigenous groups praised the declaration for the inclusion of two of its primary requests — an acknowledgment of their rights to traditional territories and the establishment of a mechanism for the formal participation of Indigenous peoples within ACTO.
While the summit served to revive ACTO as a regional organization, it also showed that members are not fully aligned on key issues, with uneven forest protection commitments by the different Amazon countries.
For example, the Belém Declaration did not include a shared commitment to zero deforestation by 2030, as urged by some. Brazil and Colombia, which have both recently come under leftist leadership with President Lula da Silva and President Gustavo Petro, respectively, have already made that commitment.
Following a 42% drop in deforestation during his first seven months in office, Lula da Silva highlighted the need for international financial support for forest conservation and criticized protectionist measures restricting imports from developing nations, the AP said.
Two-thirds of the Amazon, which covers an area twice the size of India, lie in Brazil, while the remaining third is within the borders of seven other countries and the territory of French Guiana.
In addition to the eight ACTO nations, the Amazon Summit was joined Wednesday by the presidents of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and an emissary from Indonesia’s president. The ambassador of France to Brazil was also there in representation of the Amazonian territory of French Guiana, as well as an emissary of Norway, which is the largest contributor to Brazil’s Amazon Fund for sustainable development.