Wanted: $21 Billion to Save Brazilian Rainforest

rainforestresized.jpg Can a new plan to halt deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest actually work? Last week, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced a new international fund to raise money for sustainable forest projects. It is hoped that nations will donate a target amount of $21 billion over the next 13 years. Norway has been the first to commit with $100 million so far.
“We are conscious of what the Amazon represents for the world… It’s better for the country’s image to do things right, so we can walk in international forums with our heads high,” Lula said.
But the logic behind such a plan seems faulty. Global warming and the need for carbon sinks (in the form of rainforest vegetation) are cited as the main reasons for an international financial commitment to sustainable forestry projects. Brazil is only accepting money, however, if nations release any direction or accountability to how the funds will be spent.

Brazil is willing to accept funds for rainforest protection, as long as there are no strings attached. This is, ostensibly, so that foreign governments can support Brazilian initiatives without exerting any influence over national policy. How wise it that? And just what type of projects will the money fund? No sources that I found could provide any details beyond paying for guards or making condoms from rubber trees.
Beyond the rhetoric, this may be more of a case of “pro-economic development than pro-environmental preservation” that is in line with Lula’s other environmental initiatives. While sustainable forestry projects do have potential to generate local income while maintaining ecological integrity, the key issue is whether $21 billion in donations is enough to counteract the profit motive driving current deforestation. Without foresight and accountability, such funds could end up accelerating the rate of destruction under the guise of doing something to stop it.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at www.misselectric.com.

6 responses

  1. It is a good idea on Brazil’s part to accept only no-strings attached money. Too often donors and foreign aids cripple a country for generations with their world view of how the country should progress. Let the Brazilians decide. If you don’t trust them, just wait and see how they do with the funds they already have.

  2. I don’t know what the solution to global warming is, but something has to be done in a hurry. One way to alleviate the problem is to increase the facilities for public transportation; thus, encouraging people to rely less on their cars and cutting down on both pollution and congestion.

  3. Brazil would have a lot of convincing to do to get me to give them any money for conservation after I became aware of the facts behind the murder of Sister Dorothy Stang (do a google search if you are interested). A blank check to a government that is so unable to promote justice in the Amazon rainforest by protecting those that wish to save it is not my idea of a safe environmental investment. Having said that, we all need to work very hard towards a solution to the looming environmental crisis that will destroy the earth as habitat for humanity. It’s going to take ALL of us.

  4. this is an enriching, comprehensive site . all i suggest , knowing how people can sometimes be , is a daily or hourly moment where everyone has to confess silently any thought about breaking any promise or law about environment , animals etc . this is the only way to manage & monitor situations , & could calm & change the overall usual tone in politics or tourism , teaching such parties different mentality – which would have to be done all the time, because of so much aggression & materialistic values

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