Eight Amazon nations have failed to agree on a common goal for ending deforestation in a two-day summit in Brazil, as they urged industrialised countries to do more to preserve the rainforest.
Leaders and representatives of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Suriname met for the first time in 14 years in the hope of offering a unified position on how to protect the Amazon rainforest from threats like deforestation and crime.
The nations gave the green light to a list of unified environmental policies and measures to bolster regional cooperation at the major rainforest summit, but stopped short of agreeing to a regional pact to stop deforestation by 2030, which Brazil had called for.
Instead, the joint declaration issued on Tuesday in the Brazilian city of Belem created an alliance for combating forest destruction, with countries left to set their own individual deforestation goals.
The failure of the eight Amazon nations to back a pact to protect their own forests points to the larger, global difficulties of forging an agreement to combat climate change.
Deforestation is the main environmental threat to the Amazon rainforest which is a crucial carbon sink for the climate.
Many scientists say policymakers are acting too slowly to head off catastrophic global warming.
Some scientists say when 20% to 25% of the forest is destroyed, rainfall will dramatically decline, transforming more than half of the rainforest to tropical savanna – tree-studded grasslands rather than thick jungle – with immense biodiversity loss.
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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other national leaders left Tuesday’s meeting without commenting on the declaration.
‘Time to consolidate our Amazon identity’
The eight nations also urged industrialised countries to do more to help preserve the rainforest and said the task of stopping the destruction of the rainforest cannot fall to just a few countries when climate change has been caused by many.
“It is time to look at the heart of our continent and consolidate, once and for all, our Amazon identity,” said Mr Lula.
Bolivia and Venezuela are the only Amazon countries not to sign up to a 2021 agreement among more than 100 countries to work towards halting deforestation by 2030.
A Brazilian government source told the Reuters news agency in the lead-up to the summit that Bolivia, where forest destruction is surging, is holding out over the issue.
Beyond deforestation, the summit also did not fix a deadline on ending illegal gold mining, although leaders agreed to cooperate on the issue and to better combat cross-border environmental crime.
The final joint statement, called the Belem Declaration, strongly asserted indigenous rights and protections, while also agreeing to cooperate on water management, health, common negotiating positions at climate summits, and sustainable development.
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