“If we work together we can change the world”

InsightPodcasts / 26 Jan 2023

At COP27, held in November 2022 in Egypt, we gathered together a panel of Indigenous, environmental and political leaders from Brazil to explore how new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can deliver on his promise to reach net-zero deforestation in Brazil by 2030. 

This summary brings together key statements from our event “Amazon on the verge of a new future” in partnership with Rainforest Foundation Norway and what the international community can do to help.

A podcast summarising the event, as well as a full recording are also available.

“Now we can think about the future. In the past we were just surviving, now we can think about how we can really change things. This is very important because when we talk about the Amazon, my place, we are talking about not only my future or the future of my people, but your future too.”

“The United Nations says Indigenous peoples are the best defenders of the forest, we are 5% of the world population and we protect 80% of all the world’s biodiversity. We can’t change if we are not together. The government won’t change things if they don’t have companies and Indigenous peoples with them. We cannot change things unless we are united.”

“We need the demarcation of Indigenous lands. We need the end of deforestation and more than this, we need new laws. Why are we in this place now? In four years he [Bolsonaro] did what he did. We need to build a Ministry that no new government can destroy. We need laws and an agenda that cannot be destroyed in the future.”

“What we faced in the environmental agenda was a real sabotage during four years. It wasn’t just an omission from the federal government. It was planned to try to decrease the capacity of the Brazilian state to face criminals in Brazil. So to rebuild the capacity to face this crime is one real challenge in the states and in the federal government.”

“Lula is personally convinced that climate will affect poor people and poverty is at the centre of Lula’s agenda. If poor people, the most vulnerable people, [if] poverty is in the centre then climate must be in the centre as well. When you see an extreme climate event, it’s the poor people paying the most part of the bill. He’s personally convinced of that. Brazil can be a leader in this agenda.”

“I’m feeling hopeful and optimistic. I hope we have more credibility in the world and political stability. For me in the Amazon, for Indigenous peoples, a priority is to conclude some demarcation. The Bolsonaro presidency stopped the whole process to recognise Indigenous lands. In my state there is a lot of violence, especially against Indigenous women and children. Bolsonsaro encouraged people to attack Indigenous peoples because he needed to exploit Indigenous lands.”

“Lula has said we need space for Indigenous peoples. I think the new Ministry [of Indigenous peoples] could develop Indigenous initiatives, improve the political and social rights of Indigenous peoples and create some space to build new policies. I hope the new minister won’t just be about status. We need finance and autonomy.”

“In the Amazon we have nine states. At the election three were not aligned with Bolsonaro and six were. In each of the six states where the governor was aligned with Bolsonaro the governor was re-elected. But in the absence of Bolsonaro, President Lula can turn them around. The governors of these states need President Lula and the federal government. We can’t do anything alone, we have to cooperate and coordinate and support and empower the municipalities.”

What can the international community do to help?

Márcio Astrini, Executive Director, Climate Observatory

“Don’t buy products that come from the crime of deforestation in Brazil. Still now you can find shipments from Brazil arriving at many ports around the world that are actually importing deforestation through soya and cattle inside Indigenous land. Other countries cannot finance this destruction in Brazil.”

Txai Suruí, coordinator of the Movement of Indigenous Youth of Rondônia State

Rich countries need to support us. We cannot do this alone. Indigenous peoples are not only the best defenders of the forest, but we have the solutions to change this crisis. We are building the solutions in our lands. Companies need to understand that you are not doing us a favour, you can work with us. If we work together we can change the world.”

Mauro O’ de Almeida, Environment Secretary, State of Pará

“Pay attention to where the good policies are happening, pay attention where the state and municipality governors have good initiatives. Help us to structure good projects and good action plans. Donate resources for the Amazon Fund that will be rebuilt in the federal government.”

Joênia Wapichana, Brazil’s first Indigenous Congresswoman and President of FUNAI

“Brazil faces a strong challenge, but Brazil needs support, not just words, but financial too. I hope the international communities in different countries can help us to develop and consolidate our plans to protect Indigenous peoples and Indigenous lands.”

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