Seven South American countries – Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname – on Friday signed the “Pact for the Amazon” to protect the world’s largest tropical forest, which has been been burning in its Brazilian region for weeks.
“What happens in the Amazon affects not just our countries but also the entire world. If we do not work in a responsible way, maybe in the short time, it will be too late to reverse this situation,” Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra said and recalled that 34 million people live in the region.
Through the “Pact for the Amazon”, the signatory countries have agreed to undertake and carry out coordinated actions to combat deforestation and exchange information about illegal activities in the Amazon basin.
Not invited to the summit in Leticia, Colombia, was Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. The exclusion was by Bolivia’s president who recalled that nature knows no borders. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who said he was unable to travel due to his health, joined via video conference.
The group also agreed to work on reforestation. More than 80,000 fires have broken out in the Amazon rainforest this year.
75% of Brazilians think international concern about the Amazon is legitimate, and 51% believe Bolsonaro is doing a bad job protecting the forest. https://t.co/YhSIFr2y4E
— Oliver Stuenkel (@OliverStuenkel) September 1, 2019
The meeting came against a backdrop of growing international outrage over the surge in wildfires raging in parts of the Amazon. Environmentalists blame the policies and weakened restrictions of Brazil’s Bolsonaro for the increased deforestation. Bolsonaro wants to open up the rainforest for commercial exploration.
Fires have also broken out in Bolivia.
“We understand the urgency to protect this region, we understand that there are threats in the region, and that they are basically all the same in the countries meeting here today. It’s no surprise to anyone that in recent decades we’ve lost thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest because of the illegal expansion of the agricultural frontier as well as illegal extraction of minerals and the planting of illicit crops,” Duque said.