Brazil and seven other South American countries, including Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, have made a pledge to combat deforestation and address environmental issues in the Amazon Rainforest. Brazil, being the only member of the Mercosur trading bloc that houses the Amazon, has faced criticism for increasing deforestation to make way for farmland and beef production. However, a change in leadership last year has brought about a shift in Brazil’s attitude towards deforestation.
The signing of the ‘Belem Declaration’ took place on Tuesday (August 8) during a summit in the Brazilian city of Belem. The declaration, signed by Brazil and the other members of the Amazon Co-operation Treaty Organisation (ACTO), encompasses 113 objectives and principles related to deforestation, water quality, biodiversity, social equality, and other environmental concerns. ACTO serves as the intergovernmental coordination body for the eight Amazonian countries, aiming to promote projects and actions that yield equitable and beneficial outcomes for the region.
Deforestation in Brazil has been a contentious issue, especially in relation to the EU-Mercosur Trade Deal. European farm organizations have used deforestation as an argument against the trade deal, highlighting the inconsistency between the EU’s trade policy and its own environmental standards for farmers. This contradiction has led some political leaders to hesitate in fully supporting the deal without guarantees of improved environmental practices within the Mercosur bloc.
In June, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, called for robust commitments on sustainability during negotiations with the South American trading bloc. He emphasized the need for a substantial and robust legal instrument to ensure that Mercosur beef products destined for the EU market meet adequate environmental standards. The European Commission has expressed its desire to ratify the trade deal as soon as possible, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen aiming to finalize the free trade agreement by the end of this year.
These recent developments signify a shift in Brazil’s approach to deforestation and environmental preservation. The Belem Declaration and the ongoing efforts to secure sustainability commitments from the Mercosur bloc demonstrate a growing awareness of the need to protect the Amazon Rainforest and address environmental concerns. The international community will be closely monitoring Brazil’s actions to ensure that these commitments are upheld and that the region’s unique biodiversity and ecosystems are safeguarded for future generations.