Amazon Watch Statement on the "Amazon Pact" Issued Today by South American Leaders

Amazon Watch

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Today, presidents and high-level ministers of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, and Suriname met in Leticia, Colombia to discuss regional cooperation for the Amazon. They issued this "Amazon Pact" at the end of the meeting, which laid out their agreed-upon commitments.

Amazon Watch's Moira Birss made the following statement in response to the Pact:

"While it is a positive sign that governments of the Amazon region met to discuss joint cooperation to ‘conserve' the Amazon rainforest, the text of the pact does more to raise questions and concerns than it does to reassure the world that the Amazon will be protected.

"A key red flag in the text is its description of the causes of forest degradation and deforestation; the text does not actually name any specific cause and only very vaguely references a possible link between Amazon deforestation and climate change. 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.

"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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