Rainforest in Jaraqui, Brazil

Environment and climate Reconciling ecological, social and economic interests

The bulk of the Amazon rainforest lies in Brazil. The role that it plays for global water cycles and as a carbon sink is of key importance for the global climate and for economic development in South America. Yet every year, extensive areas of forest are cut down – in many cases illegally – in order to provide new land for farming or grazing. Illegal mining is also causing enormous damage in the rainforest.

The deforestation rate has risen continuously over the past decade. Between August 2020 and July 2021, it reached a new record high, with 13,235 square kilometres of forest being destroyed, an increase of 22 per cent compared to the year before. According to estimates of the National Institute for Space Research, which analyses satellite images of the region, the area of Amazon rainforest destroyed in the following year (August 2021 to July 2022) was 11,568 square kilometres. While this is a slight decline compared with the previous year (11 per cent down), deforestation levels are still at a record high.

Balancing environmental, social and economic interests is one of the most important goals of German-Brazilian cooperation for sustainable development. The Brazilian government has announced that it will end illegal deforestation by 2028. However, so far there are no concrete implementation strategies for doing that.

At the climate COP in Egypt in November 2022 – which he attended before his inauguration – newly elected president Lula da Silva announced that Brazil would change its policy, noting that Brazil would again become a global leader on climate action and rainforest conservation.

Climate action and the 2030 Agenda

Brazil was one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement and made a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions 37 per cent – compared to 2005 levels – by 2025 and 43 per cent by 2030. Its high share of renewable energy means that the country has enormous potential to play a pioneering role in decarbonisation and thus make a decisive contribution to global climate change mitigation. Concrete climate action measures are of key importance for this.

The civil society working group for the 2030 Agenda (Grupo de Trabalho da Sociedade Civil para a Agenda 2030), which counts about 40 non-governmental organisations as its members, publishes an annual report on the implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals in Brazil (the Relatório Luz). In 2022, the group found that there was only one of the 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda on which Brazil had achieved sufficient progress. In fact, on 65 per cent of them there had been setbacks.

As at: 19/01/2023