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The Amazon Summit held recently in the city of Belém, in the Brazilian state of Pará, had the great merit of bringing together, in addition to presidents and ministers of the Environment and Foreign Relations, hundreds of representatives of civil society — among them indigenous peoples, traditional communities and Amazonian inhabitants, in addition to international cooperation and multilateral financing—, all together for the first time in a discussion table on the challenges and existing possibilities for the sustainable development of a strategic region for the world , which must include, together with the protection of an essential biome, the reduction of inequalities and the promotion of social inclusion.
The meeting was based on two consensual premises, summarized by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Brazil, Marina Silva: the understanding that the Amazon cannot reach a point of no return, that in which there is no possible regeneration, and that a great regional cooperation effort is necessary to protect forests, biodiversity and indigenous peoples, promoting a new cycle of prosperity.
At the Summit, 19 multilateral banks led by the IDB, Brazil’s Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social (BNDES) and CAF launched a coalition of financial institutions to support the sustainable development of the Amazon and, in the Declaration of Belém, the Presidents of the States Parties to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty agreed to strengthen the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, ACTO, for the implementation of the new Amazon cooperation agenda.
Key issues such as food and nutritional security of Amazonian towns and cities, the promotion of the bioeconomy, innovation and the diffusion of technologies, support for rural women entrepreneurs and the creation of the network of water authorities to improve the management of water resources among countries, are part of this new, challenging and broad agenda, according to the words of the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira.
The Summit proposed and finalized by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva explicitly recognized the relevant role of international cooperation and multilateral financing in initiatives already underway to support the Amazon, with technical and financial resources, in areas such as energy transition , biodiversity, and combat hunger and climate change and deforestation.
From the vision of international cooperation focused on building solutions through sustainable agricultural and rural development, which understands rural territories as strategic assets and decisive players for food and nutrition security and environmental sustainability in the world, the broad call led by Brazil to a coalition of actors offers a unique opportunity to integrate knowledge-intensive agriculture with a human face as an active component for the protection, improvement and sustainable development of the Amazon.
This sustainable agriculture is capable of balancing human needs and conservation and, with practices that respect nature such as agroforestry, bioeconomy and regenerative agriculture, contribute to soil health, avoid deforestation and promote ecosystem restoration. . The current scenarios of science and technology allow us to be optimistic about the possibility of reaching this type of new equilibrium.
Sustainable agricultural models based on climate adaptation under the bioeconomy paradigm, for example, can generate employment and income for local communities, reducing dependence on economic activities that are harmful to the environment and thus promoting sustainable economic and social development. Sustainable agriculture can also help ensure greater availability and access to nutritious and safe food for local populations, improving their quality of life.
Collective action to promote the protection of the Amazon, sustainable development and inclusion counts and will count on the determined cooperation of international actors and organizations dedicated to sustainable agriculture, a crucial sector to achieve comprehensive and effective solutions that, also in the largest forest tropical world, must be part of the solution.
Manuel Otero is Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
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