PM Phillips calls on states in Amazon region to pursue robust agenda, find viable solutions to combat environmental challenges

-At opening of ACTO in Brazil

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), the Honourable Mark Phillips, has called on states within the Amazon region to pursue a robust agenda and find viable solutions to combat challenges, underscoring that environmental protection must not translate to the absence of development in the respective countries.

Prime Minister Phillips made the remarks at the opening of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in Belem, the capital of the Amazon state of Para, Brazil.

The leaders of eight South American nations that share the Amazon rainforest are a part of the meeting with the objective of reaching a broad agreement on preserving the critical region.

“If we continue on our current trajectory, the prognosis offers no relief in sight. The status quo of the environment is clearly on a downward spiral, and it is in the interest of future generations that a concerted effort be made to arrest the situation,” he highlighted.

In his address, he underscored the importance of the Amazon rainforest and said it plays an invaluable role in climate flight. The rainforest described globally as a “carbon sink” has the ability to easily absorb pollutants from harsh emissions.

According to the Prime Minister, the challenges of illegal forest activities, deforestation, and forest fires, threaten the delicate equilibrium of the basin and the livelihoods of indigenous and other communities. Therefore, the states that are part of the Amazon must bear the responsibility for safeguarding this invaluable natural resource for the benefit of current and future generations, he stressed.

“We must be resolute in our efforts to combat these threats and to ensure that our initiatives under the ACTO cooperation programme have a strong focus on the sustainable management of forests, forest preservation and forest conservation,” the Honourable Prime Minister said.

During his address, Prime Minister Phillips reminded South American leaders of Guyana’s dedication to preserving and conserving the environment. He emphasised that Guyana is committed to playing its part in the fight against climate change.

“In keeping with our commitment to the sustainable development of our natural resources, Guyana, as an emerging oil state, continues to direct its efforts towards the diversification of its energy portfolio to include renewable energy sources,” he assured.

Indigenous Voices

Further, the honourable Guyanese Prime Minister stated that indigenous people have shared a sacred relationship with the land and the forest. As he charged leaders to include indigenous people and voices in the development process, he explained that, “It is therefore imperative that they continue to play an integral part of the ACTO sustainable development mechanism,”

Prime Minister Phillips also highlighted that indigenous communities continue to play an invaluable role in the protection and preservation of the Amazon region, noting that for generations, they have depended on the Amazon for food, shelter, medicine and livelihood. “Their traditional knowledge continues to be of great value to the preservation of the Amazon region,” he added.

Prime Minister Phillips further stated that the Summit must bring to bear the awareness of the great urgency with which the international community needs to reconcile its commitment to the world we live in. The efforts must be with equal fervour as large countries did two years ago when the covid pandemic reordered our lives.

“The States of the Amazon must raise our collective voice and develop strategic partnerships that will ensure that the commitments made during those deliberations are realised for our mutual benefit,” the Prime Minister added.

He said too, that the Amazon states must remain united for the forests and continue to advocate for the adoption and implementation of Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ Frameworks within voluntary and compliance market-based structures.

This, he said, “can catalyse climate finance, information exchange, expertise sharing, and collective problem-solving, fostering a united effort in addressing climate mitigation and adaptation goals at the regional level.”

Advanced policy pathways for High Forest Low Deforestation countries and jurisdictions with high carbon ecosystems, such as mangroves, peatlands, mature forests and marshes to access climate finance must be a part of the discussions, not only at this summit but also at the upcoming CoP 28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

He emphasized that as part of ACTO’s role in promoting regional cooperation and sustainable development in the basin, work must be done to quickly strengthen collaboration and implement innovative initiatives to protect the region’s natural resources.

This objective, the Prime Minister noted, can be achieved by bolstering ACTO’s structure and empowering its various mechanisms. “We can collectively pave the way for a more resilient and prosperous future, ensuring the preservation of our shared ecological heritage.”

“Let us seize this historic opportunity as leaders of countries responsible for the Amazon rain forest to demonstrate our determination and resolve in tackling the environmental challenges and forging a sustainable, equitable future for all,” the Prime Minister said as he urged leaders to be committed to the cause.

ACTO’s member nations are Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil.