BELIME, Brazil (Reuters) – Leaders of the eight nations of the Amazon rainforest will meet on Tuesday for the first time in 14 years, with plans to reach a broad agreement on issues from combating deforestation to financing sustainable development.
A summit of members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in the Brazilian city of Belém could agree to a regional pact to halt deforestation by 2030, end illegal gold mining, and cooperate in controlling cross-border environmental crimes. The leaders are expected to announce the final agreement, known as the Declaration of Belém, in the late afternoon on Tuesday.
Presidents from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru are participating in the meeting, while Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela have sent other senior officials. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who was previously expected to attend, announced on Monday that he had canceled his public medical advice schedule due to an ear infection.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged during his election campaign last year to hold the summit, as part of his bid to restore Brazil’s environmental leadership following deforestation under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.
“We will discuss and promote a new vision for sustainable and comprehensive development in the region,” Lula said in the summit’s opening speech.
“We will strengthen the place of countries with tropical forests on the global agenda on issues from tackling climate change to reforming the international financial system.”
A Brazilian government source, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said the Belém declaration would likely include financing mechanisms for sustainable development, provisions for involving indigenous leaders in policymaking, and joint strategies to address deforestation.
Reaching a deal on ending deforestation by 2030 is likely to hinge on Bolivia, where devastation has recently increased due to fires and a rapid expansion of agriculture.
The source said the agreement will likely define channels for sharing technology and for municipal governments to exchange best practices.
Carlos Lazzari, executive director of ACTO, said the final agreement could include Brazil’s plans to create a regional hub in Manaus where Amazon nations can coordinate police operations.
CNN Brasil reported that the final agreement will likely protest what the region views as unfair trade barriers implemented in the name of environmental protection, citing a leaked draft of the declaration.
The European Union recently passed a law banning companies from importing beef, soybeans, cocoa and other products linked to deforestation.
On Wednesday, the nations of the Amazon will meet with the leaders of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia, with the aim of issuing a joint statement from the world’s three main rainforest basins.
Norway and Germany, which funded the preservation of the Amazon, and France, which controls the Amazon region of French Guiana, will also participate.
(This story has been corrected to clarify that the President of Guyana was not present, in paragraph 3)
Reporting by Jake Spring. Editing by Brad Haynes, Rosalba O’Brien, Jason Neely, Peter Graf
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