Presidents and representatives from South America's
Amazon region were arriving on Friday for a summit in Colombia, where
they were due to sign a pact on measures for the preservation and
sustainable development of the world's largest rainforest.
The measures "will have to be taken not only by the Amazon countries, but also by the nations in the region and the international community in general," according to the Colombian Foreign Ministry.
The summit in Leticia, the capital of Colombia's Amazon region, was due to bring together Colombian President Ivan Duque, Peru's Martin Vizcarra, Ecuador's Lenin Moreno, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Suriname's Vice President Michael Adhin and Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo.
The summit was taking place as Brazil came under growing international criticism over tens of thousands of wildfires that have ravaged its 60-per-cent share of the Amazon this year. The fires followed moves by President Jair Bolsonaro to open more of the rainforest to mining and agriculture, with satellite data indicating that the pace of deforestation is increasing rapidly in one of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich areas in the world. Bolsonaro was not attending the summit due to upcoming surgery, but was due to follow it over videoconference.
Duque said last week that the current cooperation to preserve the Amazon has "fallen short" of what is needed and that there has not been "sufficient leadership ... to understand how we must exercise a harmonious, reliable and indicator-based protection of our Amazon." "We need to protect these resources and join forces around this goal," Duque tweeted on Friday.
The G7 group of seven major democratic economies recently pledged 20 million dollars in emergency aid to Brazil. In addition to Brazil, fires have also affected other parts of the Amazon and other forest ecosystems in the region, including Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru.
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