Let’s listen to the Amazon’s SOS call

Let’s listen to the Amazon’s SOS call
Fecha de publicación: 
18 July 2023
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The Amazon, that Latin American spot where 20% of world water and 6% of the planet oxygen is generated, is in absolute danger and luckily, not all turn their back to its serious situation, which endangers that stability of life in our world.

So much is its importance, that it holds the largest tropical rainforest of the world and homes at least 10% of the known diversity, with an area covering 782,800 square kilometers, from the eastside of the Andes mountain range to the limits of Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia.

The Amazon plays a key role in regulating the climate of South America, even influencing the region's rainfall regime.

Some 40,000 species of plants and animals inhabit this space; 2,500 varieties of fish. Only in the span of 1999 and 2009, 1,200 new species of plants and vertebrates were identified, which suggests the unsuspected richness living there.

Its splendid biodiversity includes 18% of vascular plant species, 14% of birds, 9% of mammals, 8% of amphibians, and 18% of fish that live in the tropics.

And the richness of this terrestrial space also includes the millennial cultural heritage amassed by the Amazonian peoples who have developed lifestyles there integrated to the routine of that unique geography.

According to Gregorio Díaz Mirabal and Zack Romo Paredes Holguer, from the coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), over 500 groups of indigenous peoples live there today, including 66 groups in voluntary isolation.

The first indigenous settlements in the Amazon dating back more than 10,000 years.

Currently, 27% of the Amazon corresponds to indigenous territories, in which the lowest rates of deforestation are obviously detected.

But, despite its immense benefits and potential, this biomass has long been the victim of human exploitation that increasingly threaten its integrity and balance.

Sorrows of the Amazon

The most recent Living Planet 2022 report notes that currently 17% of the Amazon basin has been deforested and another 17% of the biome has been degraded. This poses a serious threat not only to that region but also to the global climate system, since between 150 and 200 billion tons of carbon are accumulated there.

Scholars have established that the point of no return is at the threshold of between 20 and 25% of combined deforestation and forest degradation, and today 26% of the Amazon is in a state of advanced disturbance.

Only during the term of the former president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the Socio-environmental Institute of that country denounced the greatest environmental setback of the century, with a 94% increase in deforestation in the Amazon region, compared to years prior to his administration.

In addition to deforestation - to which forest fires contribute to a large extent - the Amazon faces other great challenges associated with mining, infrastructure, illegal trade and climate change.

They are threats that reduce the forest area, affect biodiversity, release greenhouse gases and alter hydrological cycles.

Listen and act on the call for help

In coherence with the situation being experienced by this paramount South American area, between July 6 and 8, the Road to the Amazon Summit meeting took place.

It was a technical meeting that was attended by over 600 experts and environment ministers from Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, ahead of the important Amazon Summit, which will take place in Belém, Brazil, next August.

In this preparatory meeting, the representatives of the countries that make up the Amazon Biome launched an "urgency call" with a view to common strategies that make it possible to protect this natural reserve.

"We call for action to reverse the point of no return in the Amazon and build, hand in hand with various actors, strategies to save the jungle, on the Road to the Amazon Summit," they stressed.

It was in the city of Letizia, in the Colombian Amazon, where this technical-scientific meeting took place, which was attended by the presidents of Brazil, Luiz Inázio Lula da Silva; and from Colombia, Gustavo Petro, who spoke out for preserving biodiversity and for changing consumption patterns.

Lula, among other issues, insisted on strengthening the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OTCA), which he considered a tool to project attention to climate change, while Petro advocated for the decarburization to preserve the Amazon.

He assured that only the extinction of life can be built on fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) and reiterated his proposal to exchange the debt for climate action.

Next month

The Brazilian city of Belém do Pará will be the venue, on August 8th and 9th, of the Amazon Summit of Presidents, which intends to resume what was stated in the Amazon Cooperation Treaty of 1978.

The Amazon Summit was proposed by President Lula, at the Climate COP in Egypt, "so that Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela can, for the first time, sovereignly discuss the promotion of development region, with social inclusion and climate responsibility.”

Three previous summits precede it: those of 1989, 1992 and 2009, but this one in August will take place in a very specific context. This was recalled by the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mauro Vieira, in the seminar "Sustainable Development in Amazonia," last May, when he specified that new demands, expectations and actors were to be addressed now, including the indigenous peoples - already with their respective ministries -, and traditional communities.

That decisive Summit in August will also serve to resume the high-level Amazon regional dialogue, as well as to raise the profile of regional cooperation, strengthen ACTO and other cooperation mechanisms, among other goals.

Fostering an awareness and an action that contributes to the benefit of the Amazon and Mother Earth as a whole is the goal, because each of us depends on both, although some may forget it.

"I am America’s son, I owe myself to her," Martí sentenced in another context, but his statement is equally valid for Cubans on this issue as well. Hence, from the scream of a scarlet macaw to the silent suffering of the indigenous people, we should feel their pain and tremble along with all of them.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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