8 Nations adopt “new common agenda” to preserve Amazonia

Belem, Brazil, Aug 8 (EFE).- Officials from the eight member-states of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OTCA) agreed here Tuesday on “a new common agenda in the Amazon” that will be respectful of national legislation in each country.

The 113 points of the Belem Declaration include the establishment of the Amazon Alliance to Fight Deforestation, creation of financial mechanisms to foster sustainable development and cross-border collaboration against environmental crime.

The statement emerged from the fourth meeting of heads of state and government of the signatories to the 1978 Amazon Cooperation Treaty: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva presided over the gathering alongside his counterparts from Bolivia, Luis Arce; Colombia, Gustavo Petro; and Peru, Dina Boluarte.

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro was unable to attend due to an ear infection, so Caracas was represented by Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.

The governments of Ecuador, Suriname, and Guyana sent Cabinet-level officials to Belem.

While underlining the importance of “stopping the Amazon region from reaching the point of no return” in terms of deforestation, the declaration envisions achieving that goal by meeting national targets set by the respective governments.

Point 65 hails “the future establishment of the Amazon International Police Cooperation Center” in Manaus, the largest city of Brazilian Amazonia, “so as to strengthen regional cooperation and contribute to the eradication of illicit activities, including environmental and related crimes.”

On the topic of financing, the declaration “invites” development banks of the OTCA member-states to form a “Green Coalition” with a mission to “promote the viability of socially, environmentally and economically sustainable enterprises.”

The document, based on a draft from the Brazilian government including input from civil society, also addresses protecting the basic rights of the indigenous communities in Amazonia, including rights to health care and food security.

The summit will conclude Wednesday with sessions including representatives of countries from outside the region that also have large expanses of tropical rainforest, such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

During a press conference following the release of the Belem Declaration, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira sought to downplay differences among the OTCA countries regarding the need to bar exploitation of fossil-fuel reserves in Amazonia.

“We don’t have divergent positions,” he said when asked about statements Tuesday by Colombia’s Petro, who appeared to be referring to Brazil when he spoke of the “progressive denialism” of Amazonian nations that want to continue developing fossil fuels.

Vieira said that Brazil, which is investigating the possible presence of massive oil reserves in the area where the Amazon River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, began the transition to a post-carbon economy in the 1970s when it began to produce ethanol from sugarcane.

“Brazil will be ready (for decarbonization) when it becomes necessary and we are in the lead,” he said. “We have a clean energy matrix and a great possibility for growth in renewables. We are on the correct path and we’re not in disagreement with President Petro.”

Most of the questions focused on the absence from the declaration of an unambiguous commitment to end deforestation in Amazonia by 2030, as Brazil proposed.

“At the end we reached an understanding and there are references in the declaration to putting an end to deforestation,” Vieira said.

EFE mat-cm/dr

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