Brazil and its new Amazon dream
BY LUCIA LANGDALE
When Brazilian President Lula Da Silva was elected in January of this year, it was on the promise of what was dubbed a new Amazon dream. A renewed hope that his latest tenure as president would usher in an era of increasing environmental protections and vital moves to safeguard the Amazon rainforest. Indeed, due to the actions of his distinctly polarising predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, whose regime had overseen the rampant deforestation and mining of the rainforest, change was desperately required for an ever-depleting Amazon. Yet half a year later, Da Silva’s seemingly straightforward campaign goals, to put an end to Amazon deforestation and crack down on illegal mining, are being hindered by his own policies and a desire to juggle environmental protection with Brazil's economic development.
Whilst, undoubtedly, President Da Silva’s government was a leap in the right direction for the welfare of the Amazon, the recent summit of Amazon leaders in August, which brought together eight South American presidents, highlighted the juxtaposition facing those countries bordering the Amazon. On one hand there is increasing international pressure to ensure the welfare and protection of one of the Earth's most unique ecosystems, and one which is so vital to human welfare that it was previously dubbed the ‘world's lungs’. On the other, there is a want to place their own countries' economic needs at the forefront and pursue policies that would allow increased economic growth and development but risk irreversible harm to the Amazon.
Indeed, it is a juxtaposition that is familiar among many developing economies and one that is often tinged with a distinct irony. For it is often the countries whose development was shaped in earlier centuries, upon such destructive methods of industrialisation and development, that are the quickest to criticise today. And yet, it is clear that such methods of development have been irreversibly harmful and cannot be maintained at current rates, so what is the solution?
The August summit itself appeared to fall slightly flat, with less than concrete pledges and most notably a divide over the management of key industries such as agriculture and oil - key drivers of deforestation. Whilst there were small positives, such as the promise to prevent the Amazon from reaching a point of no return, it was somewhat diminished by the failure of South American leaders to commit to the previous goal of ending all deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. However, what was emphasised was the need to reform international approaches to the Amazon and the countries in which it resides. South American leaders including President Da Silva called upon the world to formulate a new McMillan Plan, creating a joint international effort to fund the conservation of the rainforest. He further emphasised the role global corporations played in driving the current deforestation, proving once again that protection of the Amazon cannot be seen as anything but an international issue.
To achieve the sustainability goals needed to truly protect the rainforest, all parties called for the provision of extra resources to aid South American countries in achieving sustainable means of economic development. This is something they have said should be done before the next major climate summit, COP28 in Dubai. Whilst there has been some criticism, pertaining to the leveraging of the Amazon for funds, they hold little depth.
The protection of the Amazon is a global issue and it will take a united front to stop the deforestation driven by the interests of international corporations. The Amazon rainforest remains one of the most valuable and irreplaceable ecosystems within our planet and without a doubt there must be rapid and far-reaching international cooperation, legislation, and funding if the Amazon dream is to become anything near reality by 2050.
Image: Flickr/ Amazon