Germany will allocate 203 million euros ($220 million) to environmental preservation projects in Brazil, most with the aim of curbing deforestation in the Amazon. The announcement was made during the visit to Brasilia of Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz, who in a joint appearance with President Lula da Silva congratulated himself on the new stage that is opening in Brazil. “It is good news for the planet that Lula is committed to combating climate change and the destruction of the tropical forest,” he said, noting that without the protection of the forests in Brazil and in Latin America in general it will be impossible to meet the objectives of the Agreement. from Paris.
A good part of Germany’s resources will go to the so-called Amazon Fund, a tool created by the Brazilian government in 2009 to receive resources from international donations. Germany and Norway are the main contributors, and until 2018 the fund applied more than 1,000 million reais (180 million euros, 195 million dollars) in 103 projects. The approval and administration of the resources is the responsibility of one of Brazil’s state banks. With the arrival of former President Jair Bolsonaro to power and his anti-environmentalist speech, the fund was frozen. Lula reactivated it by signing a decree on January 1, the day of his inauguration. Quickly, both Germany and Norway announced that they would resume donations.
Before the meeting between Lula and Scholz, the Environment Minister, Marina Silva, met with the German Cooperation Minister, Svenja Schulze, with whom she detailed the destination of these funds. A good part will go to emergency tasks to solve the humanitarian crisis experienced by the Yanomami indigenous people, on the border between Brazil and Venezuela. Besieged for a long time by illegal mining that pollutes the rivers of their territory with mercury, dozens of these indigenous people (including many children) have been rescued in recent days in conditions of extreme malnutrition and malaria and respiratory infections.
Germany will allocate 35 million euros to the Amazon Fund itself, but the rest of the resources will also go to projects related to the protection of the Amazon. The highest item of aid, for example, is 80 million euros and will serve to execute loans to farmers to reforest degraded land. Lula thanked the donation and reiterated Brazil’s commitment to the fight against illegal deforestation.
But the meeting between Scholz and Lula (the first official visit by a foreign leader in his recently inaugurated mandate), with the environment as a protagonist on the agenda, gave for more. The two discussed the war between Russia and Ukraine, and Lula reiterated his refusal to send ammunition despite pressure. “Brazil has no interest in sending ammunition to be used between Russia and Ukraine, Brazil is a country of peace (…) Brazil does not want to have any participation, even indirectly, because I think that at this moment in the world we should be looking for someone who can help find peace between Russia and Ukraine,” he said at the joint press conference.
Lula regretted that little is said about peace and was in favor of promoting a kind of club of countries that work to put an end to the war. He cited China, India and Indonesia, but placing special emphasis on the Asian giant: “Our Chinese friends have a very important role. It is time for (China) to put its hands in the dough and help find peace between Russia and Ukraine,” he said, and advanced that he will try to convince Xi Jinping in this regard on his next visit to Beijing in the month of march.
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The agreement between the EU and Mercosur, approved in 2019 but pending ratification since then, was another of the main points of the bilateral meeting. Lula recalled that in the past, both Brazil and Argentina resisted for fear of not being able to reindustrialise. Now things have changed, and Lula promised to work hard to get the final green light in the first half of this year, a rather optimistic deadline that surprised Scholz himself. Even so, Lula made it clear that he wants to review the text: “It cannot be done as it is, something must be changed,” he advanced, citing, for example, the chapter on government purchases, which he considers vital for the sustainability of the small and medium-sized companies in Brazil. Lula also spoke of reviewing the conditions of Brazil’s accession process to the OECD, because Brazil “cannot be a junior partner” and asked Germany for help to reform the World Trade Organization and the UN, to make the old demand for that the two countries have a permanent seat on the Security Council.
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