In an unprecedented move, Brazil created the country’s first Ministry of Indigenous Peoples with a mandate to oversee policies ranging from land demarcation to healthcare and initiated a host of pro-environment measures. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva issued six decrees around anti-government and indigenous measures including mining in Indigenous lands and protected areas, plans to combat deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes, and reinstatement of the Amazon Fund.
Brazil’s new Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva, also announced the creation of a secretariat to curb deforestation. Silva said that the success of the Secretariat will be marked by its extinction of it because then “we reach zero deforestation”. The country has set a target of 2030 to meet this goal. Silva also intends to create a post that will act as an authority for climate change within her ministry by March.
Among Lula’s key decisions after taking office for a new presidential term on Sunday, he signed a decree reinstating the governing board of the Amazon Fund, with broad representation from civil society and other stakeholders. Following Lula’s vow to halt deforestation, Norway, the major donor to the Amazon Fund, announced reactivating the initiative for back forest protection. Norway had initially donated $1.2 billion. The German government has also released $36.8 million for the Amazon Fund.
In his inauguration speech, the President announced Brazil’s goal to achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon and zero emission of greenhouse gases in the electricity matrix, in addition to stimulating the reuse of degraded pastureland.
Britain is considering joining the billion-dollar Amazon Fund to finance sustainability in the rainforest. The fund was frozen by the previous government citing irregularities among projects.
Protecting Indigenous people
Brazil is one of the world’s largest economies with a population of 215 million. The newly-formed Ministry of Indigenous Peoples will be headed by Sônia Guajajara, an Indigenous woman, and Carlos Fávaro, a soybean producer, was appointed as the agriculture minister. About 13 percent of Brazil’s territory is demarcated as Indigenous areas and most of it is in the Amazon and covered by tropical rainforest.
The protected land where Brazil’s Indigenous population lives constitute one of the world’s most important carbon sinks. The Amazon rainforest acts as a buffer against climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. Brazil is rich in raw material deposits and supplies large parts of the world’s population with its agricultural exports.