German development minister Svenja Schulze announced Monday that her government will make 204 million euros ($222 million) available for environmental policies in Brazil.
Of this total, $38 million is a donation to the Amazon Fund, Schulze told reporters in capital Brasilia. It is the most important international cooperation effort to preserve the Amazon rainforest, and is mostly funded by Norway. In 2019, former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who considered the Amazon an internal affair, dissolved the steering committee that selects sustainable projects to finance. In reaction, Germany and Norway froze their donations.
“With the new government and the team of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and (environment) minister Marina Silva, we have a great chance to protect the forest and to offer a new perspective to the people who live there,” Schulze said.
Under Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil's Amazon reached a 15-year high as he dismantled environmental protection policies in favor of agribusiness expansion.
Germany also pledged to provide $87 million in low-interest loans for farmers to restore degraded areas and $34 million for Amazon states to protect the rainforest.
“Despite all the difficulties, the increase in deforestation, the land grabbing, the fires, the dire state of the Indigenous populations, we see this as an opportunity to reverse this whole situation,” Silva said during the press conference.
Read more: In Brazil’s Amazon, rivers rise to record levels
Lula, who took office in January, pledged to end all deforestation by 2030. His four-year term ends in December 2026.
The Amazon, which covers an area twice the size of India, acts as a buffer against climate change because its trees absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, and roughly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest lies in Brazil. It is also the most biodiverse forest in the world and holds 20% of the world’s fresh water.