In the face of the effects of climate change that are already being felt (and will be felt with greater force), it was necessary to find a way to provide the States in the territories of which the Amazon is located with a regional mechanism to respond to fires permanently.
The meeting in Leticia must have been the first step in this precise direction. Far from being an effective tool, it seems that this "Pact" tries above all to respond to international pressure.
This September 6, 2019, meeting in the town of Leticia, located on the border of Colombia with Brazil and Peru, the representatives of seven States adopted the following text that they decided to headline "Leticia Pact for the Amazon”(See full text reproduced at the end of this note).
The context of the Leticia meeting in brief
The meeting was attended by the Heads of State of four States, namely Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Brazil was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, while Suriname was represented by its Vice President, and by Guyana, its Minister of the Environment.
It is probable that the generalized international rejection of the erratic action of Brazil to contain the fires and the (incendiary) speech of its President are not alien to the idea of convening this inter-state meeting, which was held inside a construction indigenous people in Leticia, with the presence of members of indigenous communities (who attended the meeting behind the official delegations).
This meeting took place two weeks after a deep diplomatic crisis originated in Brazil's belated reaction to contain the fires in the Amazon despite the call made by several members of the international community (see in this regard our brief note entitled “Diplomatic crisis in the wake of the fires in the Brazilian Amazon: brief notes on inflammatory speeches“).
It is noteworthy that unlike other states, the states of Latin America have remained extremely reserved in relation to assessing the way in which Brazil has allowed such a decisive advance of the flames since the end of July. For some reason, neither Venezuela, nor France (State that borders Brazil in the Amazon jungle as well as Suriname and Guyana, through its overseas department - “La Guyane“), Participated in this meeting.
Leticia's so-called “Pact”: some notes
The text adopted in Leticia brings together several existing obligations for these States that derive from the same Amazon Cooperation Treaty signed in 1978, and from other instruments adopted in environmental matters within the framework of the United Nations.
In relation to forest fires, we read that the subscribing States decided:
“3. Create the Amazonian Network for Cooperation in the face of natural disasters between the Emergency Operations Centers to coordinate and articulate the national disaster prevention and response systems in order to effectively address emergencies with regional impact, such as large-scale forest fires.
4. Exchange and implement experiences in the integral management of fire, promoting the development of policies, instruments and technical actions, based on the prevention of forest fires, the promotion of alternatives to the use of fire in rural areas and the strengthening of technical and scientific capacities and institutional“.
In the case of an emergency situation such as that experienced by the States affected by these fires and the (confirmed) lack of capacity of several of them to eradicate the flames, these two proposed initiatives can be considered as a first (and very timid) step, which it will have to be consolidated much more in the future to achieve a consensus on an effective regional mechanism on fire matters.
In relation to indigenous populations, it is read that the States declare:
“12. Strengthen the capacities and participation of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities in the sustainable development of the Amazon, recognizing their fundamental role in the conservation of the region“.
It is not clear whether this recognition (or another part of the text) has led the Itamaraty Palace (Brazil) not to broadcast the Leticia meeting from its official website, as the diplomatic apparatuses of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru did. .
Beyond what may lead a State to not officially disseminate some things, it is recommended that you read the text in full in order to get an idea of the real scope of this text.
In fact, more than assuming obligations and commitments, as the very word implies "Covenant“, The text is limited to a reminder of international obligations already acquired in the past by these same States in terms of cooperation (and little implemented in the case of several of them).
Far from becoming an effective tool for these Amazonian States in the face of the current crisis caused by fires since the end of July 2019, it seems that this “Covenant”Tries above all to respond to international pressure
Far from becoming an effective tool for these Amazonian States in the face of the current crisis caused by fires since the end of July 2019, it seems that this “Covenant”Tries above all to respond to the international pressure originated by the attitude (something peculiar) of the Brazilian Head of State: regarding the latter State, note in the recitals and in the final part of the so-called“Covenant“, The repeated reference to respect for the sovereignty of the Amazonian States over their natural resources.
International aid and sovereignty vs. international obligations and responsibility
As is well known, the Brazilian Head of State has been particularly sensitive on the issue of Brazil's sovereignty in the Amazon, conveniently leaving out in his speech the international obligations that Brazil has assumed in terms of protection and preservation before the international community. For example, by carefully reviewing the list of sites in Brazil inscribed by UNESCO (at the request of Brazil) as World Heritage of Humanity (see official list), it can be verified that more than 6 million hectares of the Brazilian Amazon appear from the year 2000 under the name of “Central Amazon Conservation Complex”(See technical sheet), an area that was increased in 2003. Declarations of sites or reserves as Common Heritage of Humanity entail a series of international obligations for the requesting State.
It should be noted that, despite the somewhat angry position of the President of Brazil, international aid to combat the advance of the fires does not affect the sovereignty of any State. Bolivia, for example, has had some limitations to stop the advance of the fires: unlike Brazil, Bolivia accepted by France the dispatch of a detachment of firefighters who arrived in Santa Cruz a few hours after the meeting held in Leticia ( see RFI press release).
Addressing sovereignty issues in the midst of a regional fire emergency does not help contain the flames. The voracity of the latter (which continue to relentlessly advance in various parts of the Amazon since the end of July 2019) must have led these States to find and refine efficient regional mechanisms to channel, optimize and coordinate the (few) resources placed at their disposal. disposition by the international community. The fact that two Amazonian States (France and Venezuela) were not invited to participate in this meeting constitutes in itself a first limitation of this joint effort (and that perhaps it can be overcome in the future).
In the face of the effects of climate change that are already being felt (and will be felt with greater force), it was necessary to find a way to provide the States in the territories of which the Amazon is located with a regional mechanism to respond to fires permanently. The meeting in Leticia must have been the first step in this precise direction.
The tragedy that is being experienced in the Amazon should in turn inspire other States in other latitudes in order to equip themselves with effective joint mechanisms to fight forest fires, particularly when they share extensive forests in their border areas.
Full text of the "Pact of Leticia for the Amazon"
The joint declaration, called by its seven subscribing States “Leticia Pact for the Amazon“, It reads as follows.
“The Heads of State and Heads of Delegation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Ecuador, the Republic of Guyana, the Republic of Peru and the Republic of Suriname meeting in Leticia, Colombia, on September 6, 2019:
Reaffirming the sovereign rights of the countries of the Amazon region over their territories and natural resources, including the development and sustainable use of those resources, as recognized by international law;
Aware of the value of the Amazon for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as its tropical humid forests, source of 20% of the planet's fresh water and climate regulator, which provides essential ecosystem services for the sustainable development of the Amazonian populations;
Taking into account that the Amazon is home to more than 34 million people, including indigenous and tribal peoples and peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact (PIACI) who possess ancestral knowledge, traditional knowledge, and cultural and linguistic diversity, which must be protected;
Reaffirming all the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, taking into account the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in light of the different national circumstances, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification and Soil Degradation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; the Minamata Convention on Mercury; as well as regional treaties, such as the principles and purposes of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty and other relevant international agreements for the sustainable development of the Amazon and world ecosystems;
Aware of the importance of the implementation and generation of synergies between the 2030 Agenda and its Goals for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the process of building a global framework for biodiversity after 2020;
Reaffirming that the efforts of the Amazonian countries are required for the conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon, and expressing their concern regarding deforestation and forest degradation that occurs due to different causes in each of the countries, taking into account their respective regulatory frameworks, including the causes of deforestation that, according to the necessary evidence, could be associated with climate change and its structural factors, and expressing its commitment to increase national and regional efforts to face this problem in a comprehensive and urgent manner;
Reaffirming that cooperation between the Amazonian countries is an important condition for the conservation of the Amazon, which creates opportunities for sustainable development and the well-being of its population;
Considering that, although there are established financial mechanisms and programs, including multilateral banking, that complement the efforts of the Amazonian countries and that contribute to solving these challenges, it is necessary to increase the provision and mobilization of financial resources to comply with the commitments assumed within the framework of these mechanisms to achieve this objective;
Encouraging the international community to cooperate for the conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon, based on respect for their respective sovereignties, priorities and national interests, we decide to subscribe the present:
LETICIA PACT FOR THE AMAZON
1. Strengthen coordinated action for the valuation of forests and biodiversity, as well as to fight against deforestation and forest degradation, based on national policies and their respective regulatory frameworks.
2. Establish mechanisms for regional cooperation and information exchange to combat illegal activities that threaten the conservation of the Amazon.
3. Create the Amazon Network for Cooperation in the event of natural disasters among the Emergency Operations Centers to coordinate and articulate the national disaster prevention and response systems in order to effectively address emergencies with a regional impact, such as large-scale forest fires. scale.
4. Exchange and implement experiences in the integral management of fire, promoting the development of policies, instruments and technical actions, based on the prevention of forest fires, the promotion of alternatives to the use of fire in rural areas and the strengthening of technical capacities , scientific and institutional.
5. Specify initiatives for restoration, rehabilitation and accelerated reforestation in areas degraded by forest fires and illegal activities, including the illegal extraction of minerals with a view to mitigating the impact, and recovering species and functionality of ecosystems.
6. Increase the efforts associated with monitoring the forest cover and other strategic ecosystems in the region in order to have periodic reports, in particular, with regard to the generation of an early warning system for deforestation and degradation to act with a preventive approach.
7. Exchange information to improve the monitoring capacities of the region's climate, biodiversity, water and hydrobiological resources under a watershed and community-based approach.
8. Promote initiatives of connectivity of priority ecosystems and protection figures for the conservation of biodiversity through the sustainable use, restoration and management of landscapes, respecting national sovereignty.
9. Exchange and implement experiences in the integrated management of the protected area systems of the Amazon countries at the regional, national and subnational levels for their effective management and for the benefit of local populations, through the promotion of the development of programs and / or conservation and sustainable use projects.
10. Strengthen mechanisms that support and promote the sustainable use of the forest, sustainable production systems, responsible production and consumption patterns, and that promote value chains and other sustainable production approaches, including those based on biodiversity.
11. Promote joint actions aimed at empowering women living in the Amazon region to strengthen their active participation in the conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon.
12. Strengthen the capacities and participation of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities in the sustainable development of the Amazon, recognizing their fundamental role in the conservation of the region.
13. Promote research, technological development, technology transfer and knowledge management processes in order to guide adequate decision-making and promote the development of sustainable environmental, social and economic enterprises.
14. Develop and articulate education and awareness-raising activities among Amazonian countries about the role and function of the Amazon, the main challenges and threats it faces for its conservation and sustainable use of forests, and the protection of traditional knowledge of the communities that inhabit it; as well as on disaster risk scenarios for strengthening the resilience of Amazonian populations.
15. Work together to strengthen financial programs and mechanisms, claim the commitments of the countries assumed in these spaces, mobilize public and private resources, including Multilateral Banking, as appropriate, for the implementation of this Pact.
16. Advance rapidly in the formulation of the second phase of the Program for Sustainable Landscapes of the Amazon before the Global Environment Facility.
Our willingness to accept the present Pact of Leticia for the Amazon.
Our commitment to coordinate, through the Foreign Ministries and the competent authorities, the formulation of an action plan for the development of the actions adopted, as well as to hold follow-up meetings to evaluate the progress in the formulation and implementation of said plan.
Our intention to cooperate and our call to other interested States, to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) and other regional and international organizations to cooperate to achieve the actions agreed upon here, building in harmony with national efforts and in response to the requests of the Amazonian countries that are signatories of this Pact and with full respect for their sovereignty.“