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how the G7 can save the Amazon

By Rainforest Foundation Norway
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Oslo, Norway, 25. August 2019: It is encouraging that the G7 is discussing the urgent situation in the Amazon. President Macron has advocated stopping industrial deforestation and finding new forms of forest governance where NGOs and indigenous peoples are more involved. The question is how G7 countries best could achieve this.

  • The best way for G7 countries to help solve this crisis is to immediately state that they will not buy products from Brazil with high deforestation risk as long as deforestation and the fires continue, says Øyvind Eggen, director of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

EU Council president Donald Tusk says it’s hard to imagine ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement as long as “the Brazilian government allows for the destruction of the green lungs of planet earth”. We believe the ratification process should be halted until specific conditions are met. These conditions should solve the current Amazon crisis of fires, increased deforestation and continuous attacks on environmental legislation, NGOs and indigenous peoples. Using the Mercosur agreement as leverage has previously helped keep Brazil in the Paris Agreement, and this strategy should be replicated.

  • European countries should halt ratification of trade agreements until Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon and stopped the fires. Brazil should also guarantee the security and rights of environmental defenders and indigenous peoples and commit to continued use of the Amazon Fund as a strong tool to combat deforestation in line with its original mandate and transparent governance, says Eggen.

Brazilian environmental NGOs and indigenous peoples' organizations have also come together with a joint call to the G7 (see English version below). They call for (1) a mechanism to avoid imports of commodities from Brazil with high risk of deforestation, (2) policies to prevent investments in the Amazon that involve high risk of human rights and environmental violations, and (3) support to government and civil society efforts to preserve the Amazon, if current national policies improve.

For more information:
Øyvind Eggen, director of Rainforest Foundation Norway, [email protected] , +47 930 38 721, Photos of Øyvind Eggen free to use here .

Adriana Ramos, deputy executive secretary of the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) (re. Brazilian NGO call to G7), [email protected] , +55 61 9810 9249

Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) is one of the world's leading organizations in the field of rights-based rainforest protection. See more here: https://www.regnskog.no/en/about-rainforest-foundation-norway

Declaration of Civil Society Organizations on the Crisis of Deforestation and Burning in the Brazilian Amazon

on occasion of the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France (August 2019)

The dramatic increase in the number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon during 2019, with 32,748 occurrences registered between January 1st and August 14th (60% above the average of the previous three years) following an alarming increase in the rate of deforestation over the past year, has provoked outrage and protests in Brazil and around the world, to the point where this issue has been urgently included in the agenda of the G-7 summit to be held in Biarritz, France.

Problems of deforestation and burning in the Amazon have a long history; however, the worsening of this situation in 2019 is a direct result of the behavior of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. Factors intensifying the environmental crisis in the Amazon, associated with the federal government, include:

  • The refusal to demarcate indigenous lands, along with attempts to open up territories for exploitation by mining, hydroelectric dams and agribusiness interests, disrespecting the Federal Constitution;

  • The deliberate and systematic dismantling of the operational capacity of IBAMA, the federal environmental agency, and other institutions responsible for enforcement against illegal acts of public land grabbing, forest clearing and burning, logging and mining;

  • Public statements by President Bolsonaro concerning his commitment to loosening enforcement and suspending fines for illegal activities, sending a clear signal of impunity that encourages environmental crimes;

  • Budget cuts, persecution of employees and dismantling of the structure of ICMBio, the federal agency responsible for the management of protected areas;

  • Backsliding in the legal framework for environmental licensing of infrastructure, mining and agribusiness projects, characterized by high social and environmental impacts and risks;

  • Abandonment of the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon (PPCDAm) launched in 2004 and largely responsible for a major decrease in deforestation rates between 2005 and 2012;

  • Manipulation of agencies responsible for environmental protection, through nomination to high-level government posts of individuals linked to the immediate interests of agribusiness and other sectors that should be subjected to public regulation;

  • Attempts to discredit technical institutions of the federal government responsible for monitoring deforestation and other environmental problems, as in the case of the National Space Research Institute (INPE).

The increase in deforestation and burning in the Amazon, associated with land grabbing and illegal exploitation of timber and other natural resources, is directly connected to rising acts of violence against indigenous peoples, traditional communities and social movements; violence that has remained in impunity, in the great majority of cases. Meanwhile, President Bolsonaro has encouraged the criminalization of social movements and NGOs, reaching the absurdity of blaming them for increased burning in the Amazon.

Such actions, omissions and discourse have made Brazil a global outcast in an area where the country was previously a protagonist. This threatens the Amazon, the largest heritage of Brazilians, the wellbeing of the population and the global climate, which cannot withstand emissions from the destruction of the Amazon. Ironically, this situation now threatens the future of the Brazilian agribusiness sector that the president claims to defend.

The Brazilian government urgently needs to take responsibility for leading a series of efforts, involving public, private and civil society actors, to address this grave problem, including among other concrete actions:

  • Effective support for urgent actions to combat environmental crimes associated with public land grabbing, deforestation, burning and illegal exploitation of natural resources, led by IBAMA and other agencies responsible for monitoring and enforcement, with guarantees of necessary funding;
  • Elimination of obstacles to the demarcation of indigenous lands, together with recognition of the territorial rights ofquilombola communities and other traditional populations;
  • Suspending legislative bills aimed at rolling back environmental protections, in line with a recent proposal presented by former ministers of the environment of Brazil;
  • The re-creation of the steering committee and resumption of activities of the Amazon Fund (Fundo Amazônia);
  • Resumption of the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon and neighboring tropical savannah (Cerrado), ensuring adequate financial resources, transparency and participation of government entities and civil society.
  • At the same time, we urge G-7 member countries present at the Biarritz Summit to take concrete steps to:
  • Guarantee effective mechanisms to avoid imports of commodities from agribusiness, mining and timber sectors that originate from areas characterized by recent deforestation and violations of human rights in the Amazon;
  • Implement effective policies of prevention and 'due diligence' for investments of companies and financial institutions in projects in the Amazon that involve high levels of risk and violations of human rights and environmental legislation;
  • In the case of an effective change in positions of the Bolsonaro government, contribute to efforts by government and society to address deforestation and burning in the Amazon, with the means necessary for implementing climate change policies in line with the objective of 1.5o C of the Paris Agreement.

With appreciation for your attention,
Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil – APIB

Articulação Internacional de Atingidos e Atingidas pela Vale

Associação Alternativa Terrazul
Associação das Comunidades Montanha e Mangabal

Associação de Pesquisa Xaraiés MT

Amazon Watch
Cáritas Brasileira Regional Minas Gerais
Centro de Formação do Negro e Negra da Transamazônica e Xingu

Clínica de Direitos Humanos – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Comitê Nacional em Defesa dos Territórios Frente a Mineração

Coletivo de Mulheres do Xingu,
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira – COIAB

Fórum da Amazônia Oriental - FAOR
Fórum em Defesa de Altamira
Fórum Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Social

Greenpeace Brasil
Instituto Fronteiras
Instituto Socioambiental - ISA
International Rivers – Brasil
Movimento Fechos Eu Cuido
Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração-MAM

Movimento Tapajós Vivo
Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre
Mutirão Pela Cidadania
Operação Amazônia Nativa - OPAN

Pacto das Águas
Planète Amazone
Proteja Amazônia
Rede de ONGs da Mata Atlântica – RMA
Sindiquímica - PR
Uma Gota no Oceano
WWF-Brasil
Articulation of Brazilian Indigenous Peoples – APIB

International Articulation of People Affected by Vale

Terrazul Alternative Association
Association of Communities from Montanha and Mangabal

Xaraiés Research Association - MT
Amazon Watch
Caritas Brazilian Regional Minas Gerais
AfroBrazilians Training Center of the Transamazon and Xingu

Human Rights Clinic, Federal University of Minas Gerais

National Committee in Defense of Territories Against Mining

Xingu Women's Collective
Conectas Human Rights
Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon - COIAB

Forum of Eastern Amazônia - FAOR
Forum in Defense of Altamira
Forum on Climate Change and Social Justice
Greenpeace Brasil
Frontiers Institute
Socioenvironmental Institute – ISA
International Rivers - Brazil
Movement Caring for Fechos
Movement for Popular Sovereignty in Mining-MAM
Tapajós Alive Movement
Xingu Forever Alive Movement
Coalition for Citizenship
Operation Native Amazon - OPAN
Pact for Waters
Planète Amazone
Amazon Protection
NGO Network for the Atlantic Rainforest RMA
Sindiquimica – PR
A Drop in the Ocean
WWF-Brazil
Rainforest Foundation Norway is a leading rainforest protection organization with 30 years of experience from Brazil.