President Brandon held a virtual meeting with Brazilian Socialist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Wednesday, 16. Lula da Silva appealed to Brandon to speed up the transfer of 500 million dollars to the Amazon Fund.
Brandon responded to Lula da Silva by stating that he would seek approval from the U.S. Congress to provide Brazil with $500 million to help combat deforestation in the Amazon.
During their dialogue, the two presidents recalled their joint efforts to address climate change. While seeking financial support from the U.S., Lula discussed preparations for COP-28 – the UN climate summit to be held in Dubai.
Corruption in the Amazon Fund
The Amazon Fund is a resource that collects donations to be invested in actions aimed at preserving and monitoring the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The fund was created by the Lula administration in 2008. The National Bank for Economic and Social Development of Brazil (“BNDES” in Portuguese) is responsible for managing the allocation of these funds.
In practice, however, a significant portion of the money raised by this fund goes to NGOs that do not work to conserve the Amazon, but rather to support special interests in the region.
Furthermore, some countries invest in the Amazon Fund to profit from illegal tree exploitation and other illegal activities in the region, such as Norway.
In 2019, conservative President Jair Bolsonaro halted both outgoing and incoming funds from the Amazon Fund due to suspicions of corruption and misappropriation of resources meant to protect the Amazon.
But Lula da Silva’s return to power restored the Amazon Fund, and now Brazil’s socialist president is requesting even more money to supposedly “protect” the Amazon and fight illegal deforestation.
Also in 2019, Senator Plínio Valério of Amazonas criticized the role of NGOs in the Amazon and the receipt of money from various countries and entities for the Amazon Fund. Plínio Valério stated:
“These funds from the Amazon Fund end up in the pockets of people associated with NGOs. 80% of the money is spent among them, on lectures, scientific research, book publications, etc., in an irregular manner. In addition, we have found that the projects financed by the Amazon Fund have reached only 160,000 people, a figure considered negligible in relation to the 20 million inhabitants of the Amazon region”.
Currently, Plínio Valério chairs a parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate the role of NGOs in the Amazon and the irregularities committed with the funds intended for the protection of Brazil’s forests.