Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed on Wednesday to protect the Amazon rainforest.
Speaking at the UN climate change conference COP27 in Egypt during his first trip abroad since winning a second-round presidential runoff on 30 October, Lula announced that Brazil was back on the international stage, touching on the recent election and its implications for the Amazon and the world’s “survival”.
“There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon,” he said, promising to safeguard the Amazon’s biomass.
Lula announced that in the first three years of current President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, deforestation levels increased by 73 percent, while last year, 13,000 square kilometers were deforested.
“We are going to strengthen the inspection bodies and monitoring systems, which have been dismantled in the last four years,” he said.
He said he would clamp down on “environmental crimes” and those undertaking “illegal activity” in the Amazon, denouncing mining, timber, and agricultural activities which he said have significantly impacted indigenous peoples’ way of life in the region.
He also pledged to establish a ministry for Indigenous peoples to ensure their “dignified survival, security, peace, and sustainability,” underscoring that they “must be the protagonists of its preservation.”
Lula said communities living in the Amazon must be “beneficiaries of a model of sustainable local development” and not models that destroy forests, generate little wealth, and result in environmental damage.
He went on to announce that Germany and Norway will support the Amazon Fund to finance environmental protection measures in the largest tropical rainforest.
“The Fund has today more than $500 million which has been frozen since 2019 due to the current government’s lack of commitment to the protection of the Amazon,” said Lula.
With more than 17 percent of the entire Amazon basin lost to deforestation, destruction in the Amazon is pushing it towards a tipping point.
According to scientists Carlos Nobre and Thomas Lovejoy, if 20–25 percent of the Amazon is lost, it would fail to act as an ecosystem.