Germany is also helping: How Brazil's new government wants to protect the rainforest
Created: 01/03/2023 07:47
By: Lisa Kuner
Brazil's new President Lula has announced that he will better protect the Amazon region and end deforestation.
Can he keep those promises?
Brasilia – When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva traveled to the UN climate conference COP 27 in Egypt in November, he caused quite a stir.
The newly elected President of Brazil declared that his country would once again become an important partner when it comes to climate protection.
"We will prioritize the fight against deforestation," said the left-wing PT politician, who was sworn in on Jan. 1.
"Brazil is back".
Lula also promised to host the COP 30 in Brazil in 2025.
Many international actors are relieved about Lula da Silva's election victory.
When it comes to climate protection, the 77-year-old, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2011, promises a turnaround.
Germany and Norway, for example, have already pledged to put money back into the Amazon Fund, which finances programs against deforestation.
Nevertheless, it will not be easy to effectively protect the Amazon again in the coming years.
"It will be a great challenge to bring together all interests relating to the Amazon region," says Marina Caetano in an interview with
IPPEN.MEDIA's Frankfurter Rundschau
Caetano is responsible for political dialogue at the think tank Instituto Talanoa in Brazil.
"There is no majority of environmentally conscious politicians in Congress."
Lula da Silva with indigenous women from the Amazon region at the UN climate summit COP27: Brazil's president wants to protect the rainforest better.
© Christophe Gateau/dpa
Environmental protection in Brazil: Bolsonaro leaves behind a field of rubble
In addition, the voted-out President Jair Bolsonaro is leaving the new government in a shambles of environmental policy: According to the PRODES project, which monitors the Amazon region with satellites, deforestation in Brazil rose by 73 percent under Bolsonaro.
In addition, the right-wing extremist president had systematically undermined most environmental protection mechanisms in recent years.
It weakened the environmental protection agency IBAMA, the Chico Mendes Institute, which is responsible for preserving biodiversity, and the indigenous protection agency FUNAI.
Firstly, by cutting financial resources: in some cases, the organizations mentioned could no longer even pay for the petrol to look at environmental crimes up close.
But Bolsonaro also hollowed out the authorities in terms of personnel:
The controls of environmental crimes have become fewer, there are hardly any arrests and fines.
This seems like an invitation to many: illegal loggers, gold diggers, miners, drug dealers - they have all come in droves in recent years.
"There was an explosion of violence and crime," says Caetano.
Despite this difficult starting position, there is reason for hope: "The Lula government meets the requirements to deal with it," says Caetano.
The team preparing the transition to the new government is currently making the necessary arrangements.
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"Lula understood that climate protection must become a flagship project in the coming years," says the project coordinator.
In order to achieve this, the future president has gathered capable people around him, including Marina Silva as Minister of the Environment, who held the post from 2003 to 2008.
From Caetano's point of view, however, the team is not perfect: "But I would have liked to see a few younger names."
Financial means and immediate measures: This is how Lula wants to save the Amazon
Protecting the Amazon region effectively in the future costs money.
From Caetano's point of view, it is therefore important that some projects related to the financing of Amazon protection are exempted from the so-called spending ceiling, a maximum limit for new debt.
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In addition, various immediate measures are necessary, there must be a plan how deforestation can be stopped.
In addition, from Caetano's point of view, it is crucial that the public structures for environmental protection are strengthened and rebuilt as quickly as possible.
"But it's not enough to just hire more people," she says.
New technical possibilities, such as monitoring by satellites, must be used more intensively.
"Furthermore, protecting the environment must be thought of together with the fight against poverty," adds Caetano.
However, it is also important for the project coordinator to point out that the Amazon region does not have to be rescued from outside.
"It's a colonial idea," she emphasizes.
Instead, it is central to work together with the inhabitants of the forest.
"It's not the Amazon that needs us to be saved, it's the Amazon that we need." There are signs that the new government in Brazil takes a similar view: it wants to create a ministry for indigenous affairs.
This would finally give the peoples of the Amazon a much louder voice in government.