Amazon Summit Nearly Fails

The summit between the South American countries of the Amazon has ended, but did not lead to the desired results.

Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Peru, Suriname, and Ecuador signed a joint declaration and called for the creation of an “alliance against deforestation” at the end of a two-day event in Belém, Brazil, in the State of Pará, the region of Brazil that is most affected by deforestation.

The purpose of the union of South American countries where the “lungs of the world” are located is “to promote regional cooperation in the fight against deforestation, in order to prevent the Amazon from reaching the point of no return.”

However, the result of the Belem Declaration did not meet expectations from the day before: the text does not actually present specific actions that could lead to the goal of “zero deforestation by 2030,” one of the objectives announced by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The meeting itself was positive, as were various declarations of intent and recognition of “the urgency to agree on common goals for the period up to 2030 to combat deforestation, eradicate and stop illegal extraction of natural resources.” It also announced an intention to “promote regional cooperation to combat deforestation and prevent the Amazon from reaching the point of no return,” but there is no real – and specific – common goal.

And then came the big controversy: the document does not cover fossil fuels, while some states, such as Colombia and Ecuador, would like bolder steps to stop oil exploration in the Amazon River basin. Brazil does not provide a clear answer to this question, given the massive oil exploration project that Petrobras would like to undertake near the mouth of the Amazon River. In short, everyone agrees on words, but when it comes to deeds, national interests usually take precedence. This resulted in a 113-point agenda, but without a clear roadmap to the “see you soon” at the next conference in Colombia in 2025. In the previous 40 years, the concerned countries have met only three times.