Leaders of the Amazon countries meeting in Brazil this week released the “Belem Declaration,” promising greater regional integration.

The Declaration, promises to strengthen the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OTCA), now in its 45th year, and commits to establish a regional science panel to meet annually and periodically on regional developments.

Primary areas of focus within the Declaration include combatting deforestation and wildfires, environmental crimes and human rights violations; natural resource and water management, including climate change adaptation; sustainable infrastructure and economic development; and food security and health. The importance of Indigenous Peoples rights and cultural values are emphasized throughout the Declaration.

As widely reported, the Declaration fell short of endorsing the Brazilian President’s call for a shared regional commitment to end deforestation by 2030. Although deforestation has been declining in both Brazil and Colombia this year, that is not the case throughout the region and a number of other governments reportedly opposed President Lula’s initiative on this topic.

Similarly, President Petro of Colombia had called for an end to petroleum exploration in the region. While his government ended petroleum exploration in Colombia, the Brazilian government has not followed suit and a major exploration effort is under consideration near the mouth of the Amazon River.

WCS participation in side events and meetings associated with the government-only Amazon Summit included Country Directors Carlos Durigan (Brazil), Catalina Gutierrez (Colombia) and Lillian Painter (Bolivia). Forests & Climate Change Executive Director Daniel Zarin and the Andes-Amazon-Orinoco Regional Director for Forests & Climate Change Andre Nahur remain in Belem for additional events and meetings through Thursday.