The presidents of France and Brazil meet and launch $1.1 bln program to protect Amazon rainforest

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In a landmark move, the French and Brazilian presidents announced a $1.1 billion initiative aimed at preserving the Amazon rainforest, signaling a renewed partnership between France and Brazil. This collaboration involves contributions from both private and public funds over a four-year span, emphasizing the joint commitment of both nations to environmental conservation.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Brazil, hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, marked a significant step in rekindling the countries’ relations after a period of strain under Brazil’s former leadership. Macron’s visit, which began in the Amazon city of Belem, underscored the shared dedication to protecting the rainforest and fostering trade relations.

During their meeting, the two leaders issued a joint statement, saying, “Gathered in Belem, in the heart of the Amazon, we, Brazil and France, Amazonian countries, have decided to join forces to promote an international roadmap for protection of tropical forests.” They expressed their commitment “to the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of the world’s tropical forests” and agreed to work on “an ambitious agenda, including … developing innovative financial instruments, market mechanisms, and payments for environmental services.

Addressing environmental challenges and the future of the Amazon, Lula emphasized the global effort to enhance rainforest protections, stating, “We want to convince those who have already deforested that they need to contribute in an important way to countries that still have their forests to keep them standing.” This statement was made alongside Macron, highlighting the collaborative spirit of the visit.

The French president’s office, prior to the trip, had expressed Macron’s perspective on trade agreements, noting that “a potential European trade deal with the South American bloc Mercosur won’t be on the agenda.” Macron has been vocal about his concerns, particularly regarding environmental and health standards, emphasizing that “The French president is an opponent of such an agreement as long as South American producers don’t respect the same environment and health standards as Europeans,” after farmers raised concerns during protests across France and Europe.

One of the highlights of Macron’s visit was his decoration of Indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire with the prestigious Legion of Honor medal, recognizing Raoni’s efforts in conserving the rainforest. Macron addressed Raoni, saying, “You were in Europe and I promised to come here to your forest and be with your people in this forest that is coveted. President Lula and I have a common cause for one of our friends in this land that belongs to you.

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This visit not only served as a platform for environmental advocacy but also marked the resolution of past disagreements, moving beyond the “four-year eclipse and a virtual freeze in political relations between our two countries during Bolsonaro’s presidency,” as noted by a French presidential adviser. The collaborative efforts between France and Brazil, exemplified by this significant investment in the Amazon, lay the groundwork for future initiatives aimed at combating climate change and promoting sustainable development.