International leaders gather in the Amazon to advocate for tropical forest conservation and climate action

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Anavilhanas archipelago, flooded amazonia forest in Negro River, Amazonas, Brazil.

An assembly of global leaders took place in Belém do Pará, in Brazil’s Amazonian area, on August 9th, featuring a comprehensive line-up of the Presidents and Heads of Delegation from a host of countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Guyana, Indonesia, Peru, the Republic of Congo, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Venezuela.

The joint statement kicked off with an acknowledgment of the instrumental role that indigenous peoples, local communities, women, and youth play in the preservation of tropical forests.

The leaders went on to underscore the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6) which reveal the undeniable adverse impacts of climate change on tropical forests. These impacts include significant shifts in forest biomes, alterations in species composition, and escalating instances of forest fires, pests, and diseases.

A bold commitment was made towards forest preservation, and there was an explicit emphasis on the need to balance economic prosperity with the preservation of biodiversity and socio-cultural well-being. This balance is envisaged to be achieved by pioneering mechanisms that prioritise ecosystems and the sustainable use of biodiversity.

The delegation voiced significant concerns over the failure of developed nations to meet their financial commitments, both in terms of official development assistance and climate financing. A powerful call was made urging these nations to step up and deliver on the financial pledges made under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

In the same breath, the assembly drew attention to the inadequate efforts by some developed nations to meet their carbon mitigation targets. A firm stand was taken that these nations should spearhead decarbonisation efforts and achieve emissions neutrality as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050.

The leaders were unanimous in their stance that unilateral measures, especially those that may pose restrictions on international trade or might be seen as discriminatory, were counterproductive in the fight against climate change.

The assembly also articulated their belief that providing developing countries preferential access to forest products in developed countries’ markets would significantly catalyse their economic development. A warm invitation was extended to other tropical forest nations to participate in crucial upcoming international conferences, such as COP28 of the UNFCCC and COP16 of the CBD. This appeal emphasized the importance of unity, solidarity, and cooperation.

Countries rich in biodiversity were encouraged to assert greater control and influence over resources intended for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

The leaders also drew attention to specific country-led initiatives aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of forest ecosystems. Notable among these were the collaborative efforts between Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Indonesia, and the Republic of Congo’s initiative to host a Summit of the Three Basins of Biodiversity Ecosystems and Tropical Forests.

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