A crucial summit held in Brazil among member states of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) failed to achieve a consensus on a shared strategy to combat deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a matter of grave concern due to the rainforest’s pivotal role in mitigating the climate crisis.
The summit marked the first gathering of ACTO member states in over a decade, with the primary objective of establishing concrete objectives to avert irreversible damage to the essential rainforest. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been advocating for a unified regional policy to halt deforestation by 2030, vowing to achieve zero deforestation in his country.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon notably accelerated during the tenure of Lula da Silva’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. Concerns have been raised by scientists that the rainforest could be nearing a critical tipping point, potentially leading to its transformation into a grassy savannah. Such an outcome would have profound implications for biodiversity and contribute to the climate crisis.
The summit took place in the state of Pará, Brazil, and Lula da Silva stressed the urgency of cooperation in light of the worsening climate crisis, emphasising the need for collective action.
While the Brazilian President and leaders from Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, along with officials from Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, did sign the Declaration of Belém, a list of environmental commitments, a comprehensive agreement to halt deforestation was not reached. The summit did establish a 113-point agenda of cooperation, leading to the formation of an entity named the Amazon Alliance to Fight Deforestation among States Parties. The alliance aims to prevent the Amazon from reaching a point of no return and to ensure compliance with national goals related to zero deforestation.
Nonetheless, the inability to reach a unified policy to combat deforestation in the Amazon raises concerns, given the rainforest’s crucial role in maintaining global climate balance and its unique biodiversity. The Amazon stores significant amounts of carbon and plays a substantial role in influencing worldwide weather patterns.
Despite positive developments, such as a recent decrease in deforestation rates, as evidenced by preliminary data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the vulnerability of the Amazon persists. Scientists warn that around 75% of the rainforest is displaying signs of reduced resilience, making recovery from disturbances more difficult. Additionally, certain areas of the Amazon are emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb, potentially exacerbating global warming trends.
The summit’s outcome highlights the challenges of achieving consensus among nations to address complex environmental issues, particularly those with global implications.