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Leaders of eight Amazon nations are attending β€˜Amazon Co-operation Treaty Organization’ meeting in the North Brazil city of Belem to set out a roadmap to save the world’s biggest rainforest. Representatives from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname & Venezuela have joined the first-of-its-kind meeting in 41 years. The leaders face increasing pressure to save Amazon. Scientists warn that deforestation is pushing the Amazon dangerously close to a β€œtipping point”. This Summit is a crucial test for Lula, who promised β€œBrazil is back” in the fight against climate change

Importance of Amazon Forest

The Amazon is a huge area, nearly twice the size of India that extends across eight nations & one territory. Amazon rain forest is the largest in the world, home to 10% of global biodiversity, a vital carbon sink – crucial in the fight against climate change. Deforestation leads to more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, reduced rainfall & higher temperatures.Β 
Deforestation has been the main threat to the Amazon, particularly in Brazil, home to two-thirds of the rainforest. The meeting seeks to draw up a common policy to protect the rainforest – for preservation, security & borders, as well as addressing human rights abuses & environmental crimes in the Amazon. Involving local communities is likely to be a key part of the plan.Β 

The summit comes months after President Lula de Silva took office, promising to get Amazon deforestation down to zero by 2030 after years of largely unchecked development under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who faced criticism from rights groups saying his policies resulted in a surge in deforestation & violence against indigenous communities.

Governments as well as criminal gangs have traditionally exploited the natural resources of the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous communities say their livelihoods are at risk due to exploitation of the rainforest. Some analysts say 70% of the Amazon area may be under criminal gangs. It is a huge area to enforce, police and control – illegal mining, land clearing & unchecked development have been rampant. The countries have agreed to intensify cooperation on tackling trans-border crimes.Β 

The eight nations are likely to face divisions on oil drilling & deforestation. Brazil is considering developing an offshore oil facility near the mouth of the Amazon River. Demonstrators have protested ahead of the summit to oppose oil exploration plans in Brazil.Β 

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