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Brazil Hosts Amazon Summit 2023

Brazil Hosts Amazon Summit 2023

Event gathers heads of state from the eight countries that share the Amazon biome and aims to establish a common preservation policy

The Amazon Summit begins this August with positive news of reduced deforestation in the region. According to the DETER system, operated by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), deforestation alerts in the Amazon region have decreased by 66% compared to the same period in 2022. The decline actuallystarted in January, following a change in federal government leadership. The resumption of policies and actions against environmental illegalities was a controversial theme of the presidential campaign and will undoubtedly be reinforced by President Lula in Belém, the capital of Pará, which hosts the Amazon Summit as a preview of the discussions that will take place at COP30 in 2025.

Heads of state and representatives of civil society from eight countries in the Amazon region will be present on August 08 and 09 in Belém. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela make up the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), which meets with the aim of promoting sustainable development in the region through the adoption of common policies and cooperation among the countries. At the end of the event, the Belém Charter is expected to be released, signed as a commitment of the nations that share the Amazon biome.

Prior to the Summit, the Amazon Dialogues event will be held from August 4 to 6 at the Hangar Convention Center in Belém, with government representatives, civil society, academic members and scientists, and governmental entities. Through a series of seminars, debates, exhibitions, and cultural expressions, suggestions for sustainable public policies in the region are expected to be formulated and later presented to the heads of state. Equal participation of local communities, including indigenous peoples, is emphasized as essential to ensure the success of these initiatives.

Alignment of concepts will be one of the challenges of the Amazon Summit

According to Ângela Kaxuyana, political advisor and international representative of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), the intended dialogue of the event will only be achieved if some conceptual differences among indigenous peoples and Western society are overcome. For example, ideas like “economy” or “forest” have significantly different meanings.

In an interview with AgênciaBrasil, the COIAB representative explained that economy, for indigenous peoples, doesn’t solely carry the monetarist sense that often prevails in political speech. In other words, the value generated by the economy, for indigenous peoples, is not only monetary. “Firstly, because our economy, in itself, is not limited to monetization. For us, the economy goes far beyond that. Our economy is the basis of a quality of life that can guarantee the security of life for indigenous peoples.”

Amazon’s biodiversity offers alternatives for wealth obtained from the use of natural resources, including crafts, Brazil nut and flour extraction. Although these resources are not highly monetized by society at large, Ângela argues that they hold great importance for indigenous peoples, who do not counterpose forest preservation to their subsistence.

Ângela also spoke about climate change, the control of which relies on forest preservation. In fact, “forest” also holds a different meaning for indigenous peoples, much broader than for the general population. “When we talk about the forest, it’s not just standing trees. It’s the forest as a whole, with everything that’s within it, including cultural and spiritual aspects,” she argues.

Ancient wisdom, traditional knowledge, techniques, and indigenous technologies also need recognition from governments and society, in her opinion. “We need to be included as a main part and as a solution and way out so that we truly fulfill this discourse of climate balance and the future of the Amazon,” she concludes, mentioning indigenous territorial rights.

COIAB, represented by Ângela, was established in 1989, initiated by leaders of existing indigenous organizations at the time, amidst a process of indigenous peoples’ political struggle for recognition and exercise of their rights.

On August 05, ACTO will contribute to the indigenous people’s debate by hosting the Thematic Panel “Models of Cooperation and Perspectives for the Protection of Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI) in the Amazon Region.” The contributions obtained in this panel will be delivered to Plenary V of the Dialogues, titled “The indigenous peoples of the Amazons: a new inclusive project for the region.”

Narco-deforestation to be a focal point in Amazon Summit discussions

Among other prominent topics, combatting narco-deforestation is expected to warm up discussions among authorities of Amazonian countries. International drug trafficking took advantage of the low public intervention in recent years to diversify its criminal activities, including land grabbing, illegal logging and mining, as well as illegal hunting and fishing.

Homicides like that of indigenist Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Philips in the Javari Valley (AM) gained international attention. Perpetrated by illegal fishermen under orders from a suspected drug trafficker, these crimes further underscored a recent UN report that identifies narco-deforestation as one of the most serious threats to the forest and its Traditional Peoples.

In interviews with Amazonian radios, President Lula stated, “We will engage in a great debate and try to convince our partners that we need to work with unity, cohesiveness, to combat organized crime, drug trafficking, and take care of our people who live in the forest.”

Among the proposals to be presented at the Amazon Summit is the creation of a regional parliament with representatives from ACTO member countries and a police cooperation center for Amazonian countries, headquartered in Manaus (AM).

Oil exploration in the Amazon to be opposed by scientists and environmentalists

The oil exploration sought by Petrobras at the mouth of the Amazon is another urgent agenda to be addressed at the Amazon Summit. For scientists and environmentalists attending the event, the leaders of Amazonian countries should immediately cease granting exploration licenses and progressively halt production in the region.

According to engineer Andrés Gómez from the Colombian NGO CensatÁgua Viva, 73% of oil reserves and 67% of gas reserves in South and Central America should be left underground to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Professor Paola Arias from the University of Antioquia in Colombia mentioned that Latin America and the Caribbean are responsible for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions accumulated since 1850. In a publication by Diario de La Republica, she highlights the weight of Amazon Rainforest deforestation on the region’s emissions but emphasizes the need to halt fossil fuel exploration in the Amazon territory.

Gustavo Preto, president of Colombia, is the only one so far to advocate for an end to oil and fossil gas in the Amazon territory. However, indications suggest that Brazil will yield to Petrobras’ pressure to increase exploration in the region. Lula stated that if Petrobras demonstrates that exploration at the mouth of the Amazon is safe and if IBAMA approves the license, the region could fulfill the economic development dream that a reserve of 30 billion barrels of oil could provide.

Petrobras’ Strategic Plan foresees a $2.9 billion investment in this region over the next five years and the drilling of 16 wells. However, the region is of extreme socio-environmental sensitivity as it harbors Conservation.



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