This is a pioneer Brazilian platform that provides qualified information on international trade and the environment in the Amazon. The main goal of the Amazon Observatory on Trade and Enviroment (OCAA) is to provide transparent and reliable data regarding the impacts of trade in the Amazon region.
Four partner associations participated in the creation of the observatory – IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute), Cindes (Center for Integration and Development Studies), iCS (Instituto Clima e Sociedade) and Imazon (Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon).
The creation of OCAA
The executive director of IPAM, André Guimarães, opened the platform launch event saying that trade agreements in process of negotiation represent multiple development opportunities for Brazil. However, according to Guimarães, they also offer a risk of increased deforestation and social problems, as well as insecurity for businesses. “”To mitigate these risks, we have to understand the Amazon and exchange information about its reality””, he defended, explaining the creation of OCAA.
For the director of Cindes, Sandra Rios, the international insertion strategy is not incompatible with the objectives of environmental preservation, sustainable economic development and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. According to her, adequate control mechanisms and economic policies are necessary to happen simultaneously.
“We do not expect to produce consensus, but to promote a qualified debate, that eventually will facilitate the convergence of views on these issues”, summarized Rios.
The former ambassador and CEO of the Institute of International Relations and Foreign Trade (Irice), Rubens Barbosa, reinforced that environmental policy is a global issue that has had a direct impact on foreign trade. “OCAA must, besides identify its strategy is and what it wants to achieve, focus on foreign trade and, above all, in my view, on the damage that this will cause to the pocket of exporters, who will force the government to change its position regarding to the Amazon, ”he suggested.
Associated researcher at Imazon, Paulo Barreto increased the importance of finding ways to make this knowledge available through OCAA influence in practice. “For example, how can this type of discussion strengthen the private sector to make qualified demands and promote beneficial changes? Ultimately, we have this mission of causing positive changes and I think the ambassador’s warning is very welcome in that regard”.
The professor at the Center for High Amazon Studies at the Federal University of Pará (NAEA / UFPA), Claudia Azevedo-Ramos, stressed that, despite the country having strong environmental rules, it faces problems to implement them. Azevedo-Ramos defended international pressure as a way to guide the debate on the environment and highlighted the importance of scientific data to involve society in discussions about the Amazon. “We are going to need rigorous information and qualified debate. OCAA comes to add to this important objective, which is to have trade free of deforestation and illegal products.”
The director of Cindes, Pedro da Motta Veiga, reinforced that economic development and environmental preservation can walk together and said that he is “sure that trade can not only hamper illegality, but be an instrument to help promote sustainable development”.
Then, the chairman of the board of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), Marcello Brito, questioned the difference in the demands for traceability criteria applied to Brazilian products. “”Why is there a desire to trace all the meat, but haven’t we seen this dialogue so heavy in relation to wood in the last 50 years?”” For Britto, co-responsibility at the time of purchase is essential. “”It is Brazil’s obligation to present the legal documents, but it must also hold the buyer responsible for purchasing an illegal product,”” he said.
The beneficiaries of foreign trade are not only businessmen, but workers, the local population and the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, as highlighted by moderator Ana Toni. “We want to consider, in addition to the environment itself, the forest. The proposal is to embrace the Amazon with all its complexity ”, she concluded.
The full broadcast of the debate is available here.
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