Friday, May 27, 2011

(and please keep them coming)


We took a beating in the first round in the Chamber of Deputies but the fight continues as the proposed Forest Code moves toward the Senate and then to the desk of President Dilma where she must balance the demands of the Brazil farm bloc against the many international agreements that Brazil has made to dramatically reduce deforestation. In this final stage, the court of international opinion really matters and that is why your letters (from Brazil and abroad) are so important.

Please continue to use the current letter being transmitted by

The letter, translated from Portuguese, says:

Dear President Dilma,

As a concerned citizen, I ask you to do everything in you power to protect our precious forests, rejecting the current proposal for weakening of the Forest Code. Say no to amnesty for the loggers, to any decrease in APPs [protected areas], and to decentralization of environmental policy.

Please defend the people's interest over private interests and do everything in their power so that no deal can be done until the environmental protections are strengthened rather than weakened.


By the way, if you are wondering how, as a non-Brazilian, you can write as a "concerned citizen", please view Carlos Nobre's outstanding presentation about how the condition of the Amazon forest affects global climate patterns. YES, today we are all concerned planetary citizens.

[If you are writing from the States and looking for USA in the drop-down menu, the Portuguese abbreviation is EUA (Estados Unidos America).]

And while on the subject of translations, thanks to Matthew Meyer, a great friend of the forest and of Acre, here is an excellent rendering of the extraordinary letter delivered personally to President Dilma by the TEN past Brazilian Ministers of Environment:

The signatories to this open letter, in exercising the functions of Ministers of State or of Special Secretary of the Environment, had the opportunity and responsibility to promote, within the Federal Government, and for the sake of future generations, targeted measures for the protection of Brazil's environmental heritage, and especially its forests. Despite limited human and financial resources, significant results were obtained thanks to the decisive support provided by society, by each president of the Republic preceding the present in leading the country, and by the National Congress. To mention a few examples: the National Environmental Policy (1981), Article 225 of the Constitution of 1988, the Water Resources Management Law (1997), Crimes and Offenses against the Environment Act (1998), the National System of Protected Areas (2000), the Environmental Information Act (2003), the Public Forest Management Act (2006), the Atlantic Forest Act (2006), the Climate Change Act (2009) and the Solid Waste Management Act (2010).

Before the world awakened to the importance of forests, Brazil was a pioneer in establishing, by law, the need for their conservation, later reaffirmed in the text of the Constitution and subsequent regulations. These measures have ensured the protection and the sustainable use of Brazil’s natural resources, beginning with the 1965 Forest Code. The Code, an inspirational landmark for this reason, has since represented the most important institutional means by which to protect the forests and other forms of native Brazilian vegetation, their associated biodiversity, the water resources that protect them, and the environmental services they perform.

The process of building this legal machinery was transparent, and included the decisive participation of the public at each step of the way. In this sense, it is important to emphasize that CONAMA (the National Environmental Council) already represented an exceptional forum for participatory decision making, anticipating tendencies that would come to characterize public administration in Brazil, and later in other countries. Thanks to this track record of environmental responsibility,Brazil earned the legitimacy to make itself one of the most distinguished participants in international environmental forums, in addition to possessing, today, resources key to its competitive position in the 21st century.

To honor and extend this track record of progress, it is now up to political leaders of this nation to take the next step. In order for Forest Code to fulfill its function of protecting natural resources, a new generation of public policies is urgently needed. Agricultural policy can benefit from the services offered by forests and achieve even more advanced levels of quality, productivity and competitiveness. This process, however, should take place with accountability, transparency, and the meaningful participation of all sectors of society in order to consolidate the gains achieved. Brazilians are justly proud of the many successes and years of work, and therefore such progress should not be exposed to the risk of any abrupt changes, without the necessary preliminary assessment and appropriate discussion. Moreover, we do think it prudent or timely to strip CONAMA of any of its regulatory powers given the the country is governed by the principle of participatory democracy enshrined in our Constitution.

We do not see, therefore, in the proposed changes to the Forest Code adopted by the
Special Committee of the House of Deputies in June 2010, nor in the versions later circulated, consistency with our historical direction, which is marked by advances
in the quest for the consolidation of sustainable development. To the contrary, if either of these versions is passed, we will be going against our own history, to the
detriment of our natural resources.

Nor can we ignore the alert the Brazilian scientific community has recently sent the
nation, along with the repeated testimony of businesspeople, representatives of family farms, of the youth, and of so many sectors of society. Anticipation of the
weakening of the Forest Code was sufficient to revive concerns over resumed deforestation in Amazonia, as data recently released by the INPE unequivocally show.

We can not, either, ignore the call that the Brazilian scientific community has
recently directed to the nation, as well as the successive demonstrations of
entrepreneurs, representatives of family farmers, youth and many other segments of
society. Expectations were enough to weaken the Forest Code to revive worrying trends
of recovery in Amazon deforestation, as shown unequivocally by data recently released
by INPE.

We believe, Madam President and members of Congress, that history has given to our
age, and above all to those who occupy the most important leadership positions in our
country, the duty not only to preserve this precious legacy of environmental protection, but most important, the opportunity to lead a great collective effort so
that Brazil may continue on its path, as a nation that develops itself with social
justice and environmental sustainability.

The global effort to address the climate crisis needs Brazil’s active engagement. The
decision to adopt targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, announced in
Copenhagen, was a daring and paradigmatic challenge which Brazil accepted. Next year,
we will host the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the Rio+20, and Brazil
could continue leading by example and inspiring other countries to move forward with
urgency and responsibility that reality imposes on us.

It is because we understand our role in the struggle for a better world for everyone,
and because we carry this historic responsibility, that we feel obliged today to
address our plea to Your Excellence and to the National Congress that measure be taken. Together with a National Forest Policy, the Code must be updated to make
possible the necessary efforts to restore and use the forests, in addition to conserving them. We must support restoration, not get rid of it. The Code can and
must create an incentive structure for this end. CONAMA itself could provide the
opportunity for such topics to be incorporated with the due participation of the states, of civil society, and of the business world. For our part, we put ourselves
at your disposal to collaborate in this process, and we are confident that any
regression in this long and challenging journey will be avoided.

Brasília, May 23, 2011

Carlos Minc (2008‐2010)
Marina Silva (2003‐2008)
José Carlos Carvalho (2002‐2003)
José Sarney Filho (1999‐2002)
Gustavo Krause (1995‐1999)
Henrique Brandão Cavalcant (1994‐1995)
Rubens Ricupero (1993‐1994)
Fernando Coutinho Jorge (1992‐1993)
José Goldemberg (1992)
Paulo Nogueira Neto (1973‐1985)


1 comment:

Alina said...

Obrigada pelo seu post--eu enviei uma mesagem ao governo do Brasil e espero que o resto do mundo faca o mesmo.

Thank you for posting this and making it available to a wider, international audience. I hope President Dilma and the Brazilian Senate heed our pleas.

I have just started a blog myself on issues in little corners of the world like Acre, Rondonia and Para. Please check it out soon when I have more up on it.