The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela, Gustavo Petro and Nicolás Maduro, called this Tuesday from the COP27 to establish an ambitious alliance for the protection of the Amazon, in which everything is yet to come to fruition.
“We are determined to revitalize the Amazon rainforest“, Petro stated in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh, where the annual climate summit is held, in an act with his counterparts from Venezuela and Suriname, Chan Santokhi.
(Read: Petro asked for global resources to help the Amazon, at COP 27).
“If we South Americans have any responsibility, it is to stop the destruction of the Amazon and initiate a coordinated recovery process.“, affirmed Maduro. Both presidents congratulated themselves on the return to power of the Brazilian Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is expected to participate these days in COP27, and Petro emphasized that the entry of the South American giant into the alliance “is absolutely strategic “.
The ambitions are great for what is currently a declaration of intent, which wants cover the nine countries of the Amazon basin. Petro, promoter of the initiative, called for the involvement of the United States, since it is “the country that pollutes the most” on the continent and has “the sponge that absorbs the most CO2 on the American continent” to the south.
On the financing side, he called for “opening a fund,” which should have “our budget” and also “the contribution of global private companies and the world’s states.” The Colombian leftist leader recalled the announcement made the day before that his country will mobilize 200 million dollars a year for 20 years for the conservation of the Amazon. And he appealed for the solidarity of multilateral organizations.
“One of the consensus issues that could unify us with Africa, with part of Asia, is the exchange of debt for climate action”, where the IMF “has a role to play“, together with the great developed countries of the world, he said.
“It is a very important political message,” but “the issue is how those intentions materialize,” Harol Rincón Ipuchima, a Colombian indigenous leader of the Maguta people and current co-chair of the indigenous caucus of the United Nations Framework Convention on the Rights of the People, told AFP. Climate Change (UNFCCC).
We want to “dialogue to see how the Amazon basin contributes to boosting economies,” not from mining, oil or coal, but from environmental services, for example, or carbon markets, added this indigenous leader. According to the Amazon Conservation organization, which monitors deforestation in the region, Around 13% of the original Amazonian biomass has already disappeared.
Colombia in particular lost between 2018 and 2021 an area of 7,018 km2, according to the UN. And in Venezuela, the Maduro government has been criticized for its extraction policies in the ‘Orinoco Mining Arc’, an extensive region in the south of the country rich in gold and other minerals such as iron or coltan.
Environmental organizations denounce an “ecocide” in the area, where violent groups try to control illegal mining. According to the Global Forest Watch initiative, between 2000 and 2020, Venezuela lost 25% of its tree cover: 1.37 million hectares, 18 times the area of the city of Caracas. Amazonas state lost 2,300 square kilometers of forest between 2015 and 2020 alone, according to the NGO Orinoco SOS.
The hydrocarbon equation
The Colombian president himself recognized the “disadvantages” that the large reserves of coal and hydrocarbons in the entire region, starting with Venezuela, suppose within these plans, but he reiterated his firm speech to end the use of fossil fuels in time.
“This is a moment of opportunity” to promote “economic diversification” that culminates in “a decision to leave them buried, despite having the reserves,” Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad told AFP. Harol Rincón Ipuchima clarified that the issue of hydrocarbons affects everyone.
“It’s not just Venezuela, Colombia also has a number of oil companies that are in the territories. Same Peru, same Bolivia and Ecuador “, he added.” There they devastated territories of Amazonian indigenous peoples“Muhammad pointed out.
Maduro and Petro were the only Latin American leaders present at this edition of COP27 with a marked African character, and it is pending a meeting of Amazonian presidents that the Colombian president wants to set for early 2023. At the institutional level, Maduro and Petro also encouraged the relaunch of two existing institutions, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (TCA) and the Amazon Parliament.