The administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris has the opportunity to fulfill its climate action commitments and Amazon Rainforest protection pledge by taking these 16 priority actions within the first 100 days in office. These actions have been distilled by Amazon experts including a broad range of NGOs, scientists, artists, and influencers as effective ways to meet the needs of the urgent situation in the Amazon Rainforest.
Amazon Rainforest protection is already generating widespread attention from the climate movement, especially from young people and a growing number of Members of Congress.
These actions are based on the principles of human rights, science, transparency, support for democratic participation, and respect for the sovereign rights of Amazon countries over their territories and natural resources, including the sustainable use and development of those resources, as recognized by international law.
The following list of priority actions is based on a more comprehensive list of actions which we believe the Biden / Harris Administration should commit to over the coming weeks, months and years. Our alliance is seeking to engage and guide administration officials towards effective action.
Why the Amazon Matters
The Earth’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon is a vast biome the size of the continental U.S. and spanning across nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana (a territory of France). This rainforest is vital for the planet’s life support system, stabilizing regional and global weather, driving rainfall, cooling the planet and helping curtail climate change. A growing consensus from meteorological studies shows a direct impact of Amazon deforestation on the global hydrological system, notably diminishing and diverting atmospheric rivers originating in the Amazon.
These atmospheric rivers are essential to agricultural productivity throughout North and South America. The Amazon’s hydrological system is reaching an irreversible tipping point which threatens our climate and collective future, requiring urgent action.
Indigenous Peoples have effectively conserved their rainforest territories for millenia and yet their rights, lives and territories are facing increasing threats. Defending the defenders of the Amazon is an environmental, human rights and racial justice priority.
Preserving the Amazon is essential to preserving the future of our planet. Young people recognize that their future on a livable planet is at risk if the Amazon rainforest hydro-climatic system collapses, its people and cultures are destroyed.
The Amazon is also home to the largest and most biodiverse collection of flora and fauna. Defending rainforests goes hand-in-hand with the global need to prevent mass extinction.
If we lose the Amazon Rainforest, we lose the possibility of meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
16 Amazon Rainforest Actions
Support the permanent protection of the Amazon Rainforest as one interconnected ecosystem and an entity of the Earth’s hydro-climatic system, through science-based sustainable forest and land management practices and accelerated ecosystem restoration efforts:
- As we rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, emphasize actions to protect the Amazon Rainforest. Complementarily, create a formal U.S. Government Inter-Agency Working Group for the Protection of the Amazon (led by the State Department, NCS or CEQ) and support the creation of a Global Coalition of Nations for the Permanent Protection of the Amazon (State Department).
- Endorse and encourage the U.S. Senate to ratify the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. In parallel, actively engage in the post-2020 strategic framework process in the lead-up to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in May 2021 in Kunming, China.
- Support increased international funding for Amazon protection activities such as co-financing scientific research and innovation, forest conservation, ecosystem restoration of degraded lands, freshwater restoration, and community monitoring and sustainable management of the rainforest and biodiversity. Carry out a transparent and participatory process around the prioritization and allocation of any funds related to the $20 billion funding pledge made by President Biden.
- Encourage and support the Sustainable Amazon Initiative currently in formulation at the Inter-American Development Bank and other international financial institutions to fund the implementation of the Leticia Pact and the innovative solutions for the conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon. Encourage full participation of Indigenous Peoples and respect for their rights (Treasury Dept Office of Development Results and Accountability – ODRA).
- Provide emergency relief to Amazonian communities in response to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding for acquisition and distribution of vaccines in partnership with WHO, technical and material support for Indigenous and rural community health programs and infrastructure, and support for post-covid community-based economic recovery.
- Increase support for monitoring of deforestation and illegal activities – including financial and intelligence support to national and regional governments of Amazon Basin countries – in the identification of parties responsible for environmental infractions, including support for the resumption of Brazil’s Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm). Provide complementary financial and technical support to government institutions responsible for penalizing and sanctioning environmental crimes and deforestation such as IBAMA, ICMBio, and FUNAI in Brazil. All monitoring and enforcement activities should uphold human rights.
- Provide debt relief to include Amazon countries by extending the G20 Common Framework on debt relief to Amazon countries, compel involvement of private sector and complement with debt-for-climate swaps and agreeing on a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which will relieve borrowing pressure in Amazon countries (Treasury Dept – ODRA).
Support supply chains and financial portfolios free of deforestation and fossil fuels:
- Strengthen financial regulations on companies and investors through the implementation of macroprudential and other banking regulations, under existing authorities like those provided for under Dodd-Frank, that more fully accounts for the risks inherent in forest-risk commodity production (especially cattle, soy, palm, forest products, cocoa, minerals, and crude oil), including but not limited to raising capital requirements for these investments and including forest-risk commodity investment in climate stress tests (Treasury Dept).
- Establish No Deforestation, No Exploitation federal government procurement policies for all products made with forest-risk commodities that ensure that the purchases are free of ecosystem destruction or human rights abuses and require traceability to the point-of-origin (Office of Federal Procurement Policy, White House).
- Establish joint mechanisms with Amazon Basin countries to support funding and technical assistance for the sector regulation, formalization, implementation, and enforcement of laws related to the production of all commodities derived from the Amazon Rainforest. Require social and environmental best practices, full adherence to legal frameworks, and transparency in all supply chains, from the point of production to downstream consumption, including public disclosure of sourcing by companies procuring products from Amazon Basin.
- Strengthen U.S. policy and enforcement actions to prevent the importation of illegally sourced commodities (especially, but not limited to cattle, soy, palm, forest products, cocoa, minerals, and crude oil) from coming into the United States.
Uphold the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples:
- Commit to full implementation of USAID’s new Policy on Promoting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Pro-IP policy).
Defend environmental defenders:
- Prioritize human rights protections for Amazon forest guardians by designating a list of urgent cases of threatened environmental defenders on which to take action during the first 100 days including but not limited to the following cases: Brazil (Alessandra Munduruku, Sonia Guajajara / APIB), Peru (Shipibo, Asháninka, Kakataibo leaders in the Central Peruvian Amazon), Ecuador (Las “Mujeres Amazónicas” – Patricia Gualinga, Salomé Aranda, Nema Grefa, et al), Colombia (Jani Silva).
- Explicitly include protection of environmental defenders in strategies to address climate change. The State Department should create, with consultation from U.S. and international environmental, Indigenous, and human rights organizations, an enhanced set of guidelines for U.S. government action to protect the rights of and space for environmental and land rights defenders to carry out their work. The Special Envoy on Climate Change should elevate the importance of protection of environmental and land rights defenders as part of a global strategy to address climate change.
- Nominate Ambassadors who will actively support programs to protect the Amazon and the human rights of peoples therein and task them with making this a priority.
Support sustainable and just livelihoods and economies:
- Scale up sustainable and regenerative economic activities in the region through financial and technical support for green infrastructure, regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, native species reforestation, and ecotourism and a knowledge-based bioeconomy of forests standing and rivers flowing for the well-being of all life (USAID).
Read the Amazon Climate Platform
If you are an elected official or are running for office, we are asking you to read the Amazon Climate Platform and let your constituents know where you stand. What happens in the Amazon does not stay in the Amazon; it impacts us all.