Brazil, Indonesia, And The D.R.C. Work to Stop Deforestation

Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the largest area of rainforests in the world. On November 14th, at the G20 summit in Bali, the three countries agreed to create the Rainforest Protection Pact, which will work to stop deforestation and regrow forests. The countries plan to ask for funding to help with monitoring and preventing deforestation, although it is uncertain who will provide this funding.

After signing the agreement that created the Pact, Izabella Teixeira, an Environmental Advisor from Brazil, said that “forests matter, nature matters. And I do believe that without Amazon protection, we cannot have climate security.”  Eve Bazaiba, the D.R.C.’s Environmental Minister believes the three countries would be able to work together to stop deforestation and said, “we have the same challenges, the same opportunity to be the solution to climate change.”

All three countries in the Rainforest Protection Pact are decreasing deforestation, or have made plans to decrease deforestation. In Brazil, President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to reverse policies made by former President Jair Bolsonaro that caused deforestation, including increases in mining and the invasion of indigenous lands in the Amazon. According to Mongabay, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has supported a reforestation project which would plant one billion trees in the country between 2020 and 2023. It is uncertain how many trees have been planted, but some estimates are at 350 million. In Indonesia where deforestation has mainly been caused by palm oil production, several palm oil companies have made no-deforestation commitments, causing deforestation to decrease.

It has not been decided how the Rainforest Protection Pact will be funded, but Brazil received funding from Germany and Norway for stopping deforestation through the Amazon Fund, giving Brazil $542 million in aid. Both countries stopped funding the project while Bolsonaro was president but Reuters reported they agreed to resume funding after Lula’s election.

Although the countries in the Pact have pledged to protect rainforests, preventing deforestation will be difficult, with potential opposition against Lula’s reforms in Brazil and a fear of slowing economic growth by preventing crop production and road construction in Indonesia.

Plans to stop deforestation have been made in the past. In 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests was created with the goal to halve deforestation by 2020 and stop all deforestation by 2030. However, sadly deforestation had only increased by 2020. Countries made new plans for stopping deforestation at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties with Glasgow’s Leaders Declaration. The United Nations Environment Programme reported any agreement to stop deforestation is unlikely to be successful if it does not work to move agricultural industries away from forests and increase carbon pricing.

Stopping deforestation is important for preventing climate change and the creation of the Rainforest Protection Pact could help preserve forests. However, previous plans for decreasing deforestation have not met their goals. For this Pact to be successful, leaders from each state will need to have support for their policies that protect forests and make sure that the Pact receives enough funding.