Signatories of the letter include the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, an enormous umbrella organization with members ranging from WWF Brazil to the giant meat producer JBS. The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon also signed on.
The signers say they want the bill to ensure “transparent and straightforward financing” that deals directly with Indigenous people and others who traditionally have conserved the forest and whose livelihoods are directly affected by forest felling.
The State Department usually manages relationships on a nation to nation basis, but Amazon21 specifies there can be forest agreements with “subnational” actors.
“There are many ways to do international cooperation," André Guimarães, a spokesperson for the coalition, said by phone. “You can make a check to a partner government, create a financial mechanism that supports initiatives and projects, work with subnational governments or create financial mechanisms."
The question of who would control the funds is sharper now in Brazil because the current administration of President Jair Bolsonaro supports neither protection for the Amazon rainforest nor indigenous autonomy. During his presidency, Amazon deforestation hit a 15-year high, which followed a 22% jump from the prior year, according to official data published in November. The Brazilian Amazon lost an area of rainforest roughly the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut in just the 12 months preceding July 2021.
Guimarães said the letter is not a reaction to far-right Bolsonaro, whose environmental policies have received extensive criticism. But he indicated Bolsonaro would take a dim view of the fund, having referred in the past to imperialist forces trying to take over the Amazon.
In 2019, during his first year in office, Bolsonaro also undermined the largest international cooperation effort to preserve the Amazon rainforest, the Norwegian-backed Amazon Fund, by dissolving the steering committee that selects projects to finance.
That fund was designed so that the more Brazil reduced deforestation, the higher the donations. Norway provided more than 90% of the money, some $ 1.2 billion.
Since then, the Amazon Fund has supported only projects approved before Bolsonaro was elected. Norway and Germany have stopped contributing.
The letter was sent to Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.