Amazon nations forge alliance to safeguard rainforest at pivotal summit


Eight South American nations have joined forces to establish a formidable alliance aimed at preserving the Amazon rainforest. During a pivotal summit held in Brazil, leaders from these countries have committed to preventing the world’s largest rainforest from reaching a critical point of irreversible degradation.

The leaders of the South American nations have not only embarked on this vital mission but have also taken a stand against developed countries, urging them to shoulder a more substantial responsibility in tackling the immense destruction of the planet’s most extensive rainforest. They emphasize that the crisis cannot be attributed solely to a handful of nations when the widespread impact has resulted from numerous contributors.

At the much-anticipated summit organized by the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), the participating countries—Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela—unveiled an ambitious shared agenda to rescue the rainforest. The Amazon rainforest, a crucial bulwark against climate change, is teetering on the brink of collapse, as cautioned by experts.

This assembly of nations, held at the mouth of the Amazon River in Belem, saw the signing of a comprehensive joint declaration. With nearly 10,000 words, this declaration outlines an intricate roadmap aimed at fostering sustainable development, curbing deforestation, and confronting the organized criminal activities that fuel this ecological destruction.

However, while the leaders of these Amazon countries have made substantial commitments, they have fallen short of meeting the key demands put forth by environmentalists and Indigenous groups. These demands include adopting Brazil’s pledge to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030 and Colombia’s promise to halt new oil exploration. The summit’s participants have decided to permit individual nations to pursue their distinct deforestation goals.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has actively championed Brazil’s environmental stature on the global stage, had been advocating for a united regional strategy to eradicate deforestation by 2030.

Coinciding with the commencement of the two-day summit was the confirmation from the European Union’s climate observatory that July had registered as the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. In his opening address, President Lula stressed the exacerbation of the climate crisis, underlining the urgency of collective action.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro called for a substantial reshaping of the global economy, proposing a strategy reminiscent of the Marshall Plan. He suggested that developing nations’ debts be waived in exchange for tangible efforts to safeguard the climate, echoing the critical importance of immediate action during this pivotal decade.

Regrettably, the lack of a binding agreement among the eight Amazon countries to protect their forests was met with disappointment by some quarters. Environmental advocates expressed their frustration with the absence of a resounding call to achieve zero deforestation, given the pressing urgency of the ongoing climate emergency.

Beyond addressing deforestation, the official “Belem Declaration,” released at the summit, did not establish a deadline for terminating illegal gold mining. Nevertheless, leaders pledged cooperation on this issue and stronger measures against cross-border environmental offenses.

Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor reporting from the summit in Belem, pointed out that while President Lula had aspired to secure a resolute commitment from fellow leaders to halt deforestation in the Amazon, the final document seemed to comprise admirable aspirations without definitive timelines.

The leaders of the eight Amazon nations appeared to recognize the heightened urgency, even though the final document may not have fully met expectations. With deforestation already reaching 17 percent in the world’s largest rainforest, scientists caution that the tipping point is imminent. This region, housing around 10 percent of Earth’s biodiversity, 50 million inhabitants, and an expanse of trees, plays a vital role as a carbon sink, mitigating global warming.

Experts warn that the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest is pushing it perilously close to a tipping point, beyond which the trees would perish, releasing carbon instead of absorbing it. Such an outcome would have catastrophic implications for the global climate.

In a show of force, hundreds of environmental activists and Indigenous demonstrators marched to the conference venue, aiming to exert pressure on the assembled heads of state to take bold and decisive action.

This summit, convened by the eight-nation group established in 1995 by South American countries sharing the Amazon basin, marks the first such gathering in 14 years. Beyond its immediate significance, this event also serves as a precursor to the 2025 United Nations climate talks, which are slated to take place in Belem.

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