Twelve countries have called on wealthy nations to meet their climate funding obligations on the final day of the Amazon Summit in Belem, Brazil.
Wednesday’s pact, called “United for Our Forests”, brought together leaders from the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia, three regions with some of the most extensive rainforests in the world.
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The joint statement called for the development of a financing mechanism so the international community could pay for the critical services provided by forests.
“Our countries must wield more influence over the management of resources allocated to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,” the pact said of developing nations.
It also urged developed nations to meet an existing commitment to provide $200bn a year for biodiversity preservation and expressed concern that a previous promise to deliver $100bn in climate financing annually had not been fulfilled.
Speaking on Wednesday, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the Amazon Summit gave an opportunity for rainforest nations to unify in advance of October’s United Nations Climate Change Conference summit, or COP28, in Abu Dhabi.
“We are going to COP28 with the aim of telling the rich world that, if they want to effectively preserve the forest that exists, they need to pay money not only to take care of the canopy but to take care of the people who live under it,” he said.
Wednesday’s statement also criticised what it described as trade restrictions disguised as environmental measures, in an apparent reference to the European Union’s passage of a law prohibiting firms from importing goods linked to deforestation.
The communique was signed by leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Guyana, Indonesia, Peru, the Republic of the Congo, Suriname, Venezuela and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The rainforests in those countries are critical ecosystems in the fight against climate change, capable of absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide, as well as housing diverse species.
New pact follows Belem Declaration
A day earlier, the eight countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela — adopted a “new and ambitious shared agenda” to save the sprawling South American rainforest with the announcement of the Belem Declaration.
The agreement, however, fell short of committing to zero deforestation by 2030. Instead, it created an alliance between the Amazon countries to pursue individual deforestation goals, through the protection of Indigenous rights and cooperation on water management, health and sustainable development.
The declaration further established a science body to meet annually and produce authoritative reports on science related to the Amazon rainforest, akin to the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Reporting from Belem, Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman said officials will be working on a more detailed agreement in the coming months.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the foreign ministers of all the countries that are here meet in two months’ time to hammer out the details of this Belem declaration,” she said.
Still, the summit failed to satisfy environmentalist and Indigenous groups’ most sweeping demands, including that all member countries adopt Brazil’s pledge to end illegal deforestation by 2030.
The declaration also did not fix a deadline for ending illegal gold mining, although leaders agreed to cooperate on the issue.
Tensions had emerged before the summit, with some leaders rebuffing the position of Colombia’s left-wing President Gustavo Petro, who has pledged to halt new oil exploration in his country.
Brazil’s President Lula, meanwhile, has largely refrained from taking a definitive stance on the issue. Upon entering office, he pledged to reassert Brazil’s role as an environmental leader after his predecessor, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, scaled back measures to protect the Amazon.
Nearly 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil. Some scientists have warned that, when 20 to 25 percent of the forest is destroyed, rainfall will dramatically decline, transforming more than half of the region into tropical savannah and causing immense biodiversity loss.