Multi-sector action in the Brazilian Amazon aims to prevent a tipping point
The devastating fires of 2019 drew national and international attention to the Brazilian Amazon, a critical tropical forest that plays a crucial role in regulating the global climate. According to the Brazilian System that Estimates GHG Emissions (SEEG-Sistema de Estimativa de Emissões de Gases de Efeito Estufa), the same year saw a significant increase in Brazilian emissions, reversing the previous decade’s trend of decline. Deforestation during 2019 accounts for a massive 44% of emissions in that year.
During the same period, crime and violence involving illegal invasion and occupation of public lands, illegal extraction of wood and minerals, and mining in indigenous territories all increased. 2019 also marked the highest level of assassinations of indigenous leaders recorded in the last 11 years. The pandemic compounded challenges for the region where the health system was already under-resourced and lacking the necessary infrastructure and supplies, coupled with the worsening of respiratory conditions due to forest fires.
Within this context, the key local, national, and international organizations operating in the region intensified their efforts, while campaigns, movements, projects, and public commitments proliferated and gained strength.
Subsequently, the Sustainable Amazon Forum (Fórum Amazônia Sustentável), which played an important role in the region from 2007 to 2013, was reactivated at the end of 2019. This multi-stakeholder platform for dialogue and collaboration aims to connect and catalyze initiatives, solutions, and proposals for a Sustainable Amazon; create a common agenda; influence public policy; and promote high-level public debate on the sustainable development of the Amazon. By bringing together diverse stakeholders in a very polarized environment, it is hoped that the Forum can contribute to protecting the forest, guaranteeing the rights of traditional, local, and indigenous peoples, and effectively developing an inclusive and sustainable forest economy.
“The Sustainable Amazon Forum plays a very important role in uniting and strengthening those who want to advance a positive agenda for the Amazon. Governments, companies, academia, and NGOs on their own will not be able to address the challenges faced in the current context of climate emergency and political polarization.”
Caetano Scannavino, Projeto Saúde e Alegria
The members of the Sustainable Amazon Forum worked together virtually in 2020, and with no end to the pandemic in Brazil in sight, activities will continue online for the duration of 2021. The Forum’s event at the end of June will focus on urgent collective action to advocate against three bills currently before the Brazilian Congress. If these bills are passed into legislation, they will have devastating impacts on the forest, the people living in and protecting it, and the global climate. They will open the possibility of mining in indigenous territories, loosen important environmental licensing requirements, and begin the process of legalizing the invasion and occupation of public lands that were illegally or irregularly deforested.
“It is key that civil society and private sector stakeholders come together to develop joint actions to avoid the strong setbacks of the current governmental agenda.”
Adriana Ramos, Instituto Socioambiental
Reos Partners, together with influential organizations including Instituto Ethos, Projeto Saúde e Alegria, Instituto Socioambiental, Natura, and Konrad Adenauer Foundation, is supporting a wider multi-sector group to work together towards a more sustainable Amazon in this very challenging context.