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 Latin Trade Agosto 2019

Too much smoke, impairs the vision

Ingo Plöger, entrepreneur, Brazilian, President CEAL – Brazilian Chapter

"... our house is burning ..." reference to the Amazon’s forest burning, is what Macron posted on his Twitter shortly before the G7 Summit in Paris. A photo of a rainforest burn accompanied the news. Notoriety from around the world followed the news, some calling for boycott of products from the region. The Brazilian government reacts untimely, claiming that not all published information is true and that there is international commotion against the country's competitiveness. An escalation of the Amazon issue precedes this fact by the debate on the financing of the Amazon Fund, financed by Norway, Germany and Brazil, with the suspension of payments by Europeans. The Brazilian agribusiness meeting at the ABAG Congress at the beginning of August demonstrates its concern for information from its largely misleading consumer market, but of economic impact on its consumer's perception of the environmental issue. A perfect storm sets in on a highly sensitive geopolitical issue in the midst of a major economic storm over the contradictory signs from the China-US trade conflict, slowing growth in Germany, popular discontent in France and unorganized BREXIT. There seems to come on demand to shift from a central issue to a new level of popular concern that is far from the epicenter of the world economy.

As a businessman, from a century-old company in the region that has been preserving the native forest for over 129 years and reforesting for industrial purposes, from fire,  caused by recklessness, pyrotechnic attitudes, self-combustion, settlements, and so on, I´m more than surprised about the intensity of the explosive escalation of the issue. Each year we fight against fire near by megacities or in more remote areas. Using more advanced resources like drones, satellite controls, brigades for land fire combat has given us possibilities for faster reaction and more effective damage reduction. Even so each year we have to face this challenge again worst in the winter time, when dry season in on going. Companies like ours, are completely committed with the sustainability and ethics, because we know about our responsibility, but more than that, we know how sensitive our customers are every day on.  

In this year 2019, as every year in winter, the region experiences a lack of rain, which gives a much higher incidence of burns than at other times of the year. The Amazon is experiencing fires this year larger than previous years, partly from drought, partly from controlled fires on farms to prepare for planting, partly from uncontrolled fires from farms to neighboring or uninhabited areas. In addition, a part of burning in forest reserves caused by irresponsible. Satellite monitoring captures them all. Only a depth assessment by scientific technicians and methods gives the correct size of the problem. One of the problems of interpretation begins, whether the data provided by the INPE method is the most appropriate or not. Other data, including NASA, give other answers, which increases the contestation by the parties. The focus of the problem grows when the allegation is that the illegal burning of tropical forests originates from the expansion of Brazilian agribusiness. This simple statement is enough, in a space of a Twitter to make consumers aware of the simple action, “do not consume agricultural products coming from the Region and you will eliminate the destruction of the Amazon rainforest”. Clearly, this does not stand up to any further assessment in depth. Today, products exported by the Region, 80% are certified by international entities on good environmental and social practices, without which they will not be able to deliver their products. Nevertheless, there are some who do not adhere to good practices and harm others, simply because they use low technology, low productivity, without social and ethical commitments. Illegal settlements are in large proportion hot spots of burning the rainforests. Interestingly, these reasons were very well identified in the reports of the COFA, which is the Steering Committee of the Amazon Fund in the 2018, and before, but could not bring any solution to these reported conflicts. Brazil is the first signatory of the Rio 92, ratified the Kyoto Agreement, and made several international commitments and fulfilled them, as well as signed the Paris Agreement. Environmental and indigenous preservation law protects 2/3 of its territory. The rural property law requires a CAR Rural Agricultural Registry, which is a geo-referencing of all these properties, which need to consolidate in their deed the parts that are APP Environmental Protection Areas and Legal Reserves. It is the world's largest satellite-controllable digital register in the world. This process has gone through deep debates in the Brazilian Congress for over 10 years...

It turns out that even with all these efforts, the burns increase. Brazil, and there is not only the federal government, but also the state and municipal governments, failed to establish in its total territory the controls due to give effective control. In the midst of this, there is still illegal logging, which has links to negligent or corrupt authorities, and a neglected domestic and international buyer market.

Using the pulp and paper companies, as an example, we have no chance of exporting, if we do not have the hard and annually renewable FSC seal. Therefore, we have the greatest interest in our properties and, in and around our protected areas, to avoid fires, we suffer from these impacts and yes, we are committed to the greater good, as it will be in the corners of our distant Brazil.

No doubt that what happens today in Brazil in the process of combating corruption, improving governance at all levels and combating illegality, have, on the other hand, many forces are united against.  Added to interests that are undermined by these actions, and here is now allied to external perception in good faith (wanting to save the Amazon) and in bad faith (reducing the Brazilian agribusiness competition) in a perfect storm.

The Amazon, as a remainder, is made up of 8 countries that are in the rain forest area, brought together in an international organization by the UN, called ACTO Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, based in Brasilia, which receives neither money nor attention from anyone and could lead projects constituted in order to serve a population of 25 million inhabitants integrating  scientific knowledge, social and economic projects, respecting the sovereignty of the countries that are part of it. In ACTO is include French Guiana, a territory of France in that extended sense also European Union.

The smoke that comes over the Amazon is too much!

Too much for the reduction of natural forests, too much for those few who do not want to obey the laws and ethics of sustainability, too much for bad faith in harming the whole without taking into account those who have done their right in a right way, too much for neglecting vigilance and tolerating the forbidden, too much for not really helping and making this situation an electoral political advantage. Brazilian society and those of the Amazon Region want the best, and it is now worth recognizing the real harmful smoke that we must fight together, without prejudice of origins and ideologies, because too much smoke takes our vision for the Good!