Amazon wildfire crisis: Need for an international response

29-11-2019

The Amazon rainforest, which is the largest ecosystem of its kind on Earth and is shared by eight South American countries as well as an EU outermost region, was ravaged by fires coinciding with last summer’s dry season. However, most of these fires are set intentionally and are linked to increased human activities in the area, such as the expansion of agriculture and cattle farming, illegal logging, mining and fuel extraction. Although a recurrent phenomenon that has been going on for decades, some governments' recent policies appear to have contributed to the increase in the surface area burnt in 2019, in particular in Brazil and Bolivia. Worldwide media coverage of the fires, and international and domestic protests against these policies have nevertheless finally led to some initiatives to seriously tackle the fires, both at national and international level – such as the Leticia Pact for Amazonia. Finding a viable long-term solution to end deforestation and achieve sustainable development in the region, requires that the underlying causes are addressed and further action is taken at both national and international levels. The EU is making, and can increase, its contribution by cooperating with the affected countries and by leveraging the future EU-Mercosur Association Agreement to help systematic law enforcement action against deforestation. In addition, as the environmental commitments made at the 2015 Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris will have to be renewed in 2020, COP25 in December 2019 could help reach new commitments on forests.

The Amazon rainforest, which is the largest ecosystem of its kind on Earth and is shared by eight South American countries as well as an EU outermost region, was ravaged by fires coinciding with last summer’s dry season. However, most of these fires are set intentionally and are linked to increased human activities in the area, such as the expansion of agriculture and cattle farming, illegal logging, mining and fuel extraction. Although a recurrent phenomenon that has been going on for decades, some governments' recent policies appear to have contributed to the increase in the surface area burnt in 2019, in particular in Brazil and Bolivia. Worldwide media coverage of the fires, and international and domestic protests against these policies have nevertheless finally led to some initiatives to seriously tackle the fires, both at national and international level – such as the Leticia Pact for Amazonia. Finding a viable long-term solution to end deforestation and achieve sustainable development in the region, requires that the underlying causes are addressed and further action is taken at both national and international levels. The EU is making, and can increase, its contribution by cooperating with the affected countries and by leveraging the future EU-Mercosur Association Agreement to help systematic law enforcement action against deforestation. In addition, as the environmental commitments made at the 2015 Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris will have to be renewed in 2020, COP25 in December 2019 could help reach new commitments on forests.