Let’s avoid the point of no return in the Amazon

Proposals on deforestation, degradation and contamination for the Summit of Presidents of the Amazon


According to the Scientific Panel for the Amazon [1]  this biome has lost 870,000 km 2  of primary forests; an area that is three times the surface of Ecuador and more than three quarters the surface of Bolivia. To this we must add 1,036,080 km 2  of degraded Amazon forests that have higher tree mortality, lower carbon reserves, higher temperatures, lower humidity, greater exposure to wind and exhibit changes in the composition of fauna and flora. . Deforestation and combined forest degradation already reach 26% of Amazon forests.

Brazil and Bolivia concentrate 90% of deforestation. Sabanization is already taking place in these two countries, while Ecuador, Colombia and Peru are advancing in the same direction.

The Amazon is on the brink of a point of no return. A small change can cause an abrupt change of the ecosystem by feedback mechanisms. We are facing the danger of a systemic collapse in the Amazon [2]  due to the combined impacts of deforestation, fires, multi-causal contamination of water and soil (agrochemicals, drug trafficking, mining, hydrocarbons) that degrade or destroy Amazonian ecosystems, agro-industries (soy, palm and other monocultures), the bioeconomy based on commodities, and in general, the expansion of the agricultural frontier that has reached 15% of the Amazon.

The regressive extinction of the Amazon will affect the peoples that inhabit it, the Amazonian countries and the world as a whole because only at the level of climate change will an additional 110 to 275 Gt CO 2 eq be emitted, contributing to the increase in world temperature by 0 0.1 to 0.2ºC.

Deforestation is not an inevitable fact. Between 2004 and 2012, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by almost 84%, from more than 27,000 km 2  to 4,500 km 2 implementation and continuity of the measures assumed. In the original design of the PPCDAM (2004), an ‘environmentally sustainable infrastructure’ component was created to ensure prior analysis of deforestation risks and evaluation of alternatives before making decisions, as well as strengthening territorial governance and monitoring impacts. in the environment of transport and energy works.

Protected areas and indigenous territories cover around half of the Amazon (48%) and are vital for its preservation. Most of the deforestation occurs outside of protected areas and indigenous territories (86%). The forests that are outside indigenous territories and protected areas register the highest rates of affectation.

Since the middle of the last decade in the Brazilian Amazon, policies and actions against deforestation have been weakening and eroding. In recent years, the creation of protected areas, as well as the titling of indigenous territories, has slowed down and the regulations and compliance with them have been weakened, generating a new increase in deforestation that has repercussions at the regional level. In several cases, the areas of the conservation units were reduced to serve the private interests of land speculators, ranchers, loggers, mining companies, hydroelectric dam builders, etc. In other cases, the protected areas are established on top of the ancestral territories of the peoples, with high operating costs and generating conflicts with the neighboring towns.

According to different scientific studies, the point of no return in the Amazon will occur this decade if urgent measures are not taken.



  • The declarations of Presidents of the Amazon in 1992 and 2009 refer only to the «sustainable use of forests» which has been ineffective in curbing deforestation. Only the 2009 Manaus declaration mentions deforestation, proposing to identify “actions to reduce and monitor deforestation” [3] .
  • At the ACTO level, a «Memorandum of understanding for cooperation and mutual assistance for comprehensive fire management among ACTO member countries» was approved in 2021, which aims to establish a «Comprehensive Fire Management Network» for the coordination, collaboration and exchange of knowledge, experiences and technical resources, and the implementation of appropriate policies and actions in the field of fire. Likewise, ACTO has established an Amazon Regional Observatory where heat sources and other indicators of the Amazon are recorded.
  • ACTO’s 2010-2018 Strategic Agenda includes the forest sub-theme with actions to «design methodologies for the economic and environmental valuation of forests», «monitor forest cover and forest control», «promote and strengthen community forest management», «promote technical and financial cooperation…» and others without a publicly accessible evaluation document being available on said actions, nor details if they remain in plans or reach the territories and if they include modalities of bioeconomy of commodities and carbon markets .
  • ACTO does not have goals to reduce deforestation, degradation or pollution, nor does it set forth a more systemic vision that includes avoiding the point of no return in the Amazon.


  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has adopted in 2020 a resolution to «Avoid the point of no return in the Amazon by protecting 80% by 2025» in «collaboration with and recognizing the leadership of indigenous peoples in the Amazon ensuring their free, prior and informed consent, and with the full recognition of their rights, to their lands, territories and waters, as a measure to guarantee the integrity of the ecosystem, stop deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and the change of use of ground, and prevent reaching the point of no return” [4] .


a) Adopt a pan-Amazon regional vision to avoid the point of no return in the Amazon and guarantee the preservation of at least 80% of the Amazon by 2025 based on a Regional Strategic Emergency Action Plan for the Amazon, with priority in effective territorial interventions.

b) Set as an objective of said plan the elimination of deforestation, degradation and contamination, of an illegal nature by 2025, and another similar one, for legal deforestation by 2027. We must reach zero deforestation before 2030 to avoid the point of no return of The Amazon.

c) Title 100% of indigenous, Afro-descendant and traditional community territorial claims that have not yet been titled/demarcated and expand and strengthen protected areas so that they meet their objectives in the preservation of the Amazon.

d) Assign permanent financial resources for indigenous, Afro-descendant and traditional community territories, with direct access from their representative organizations, and protected areas to achieve the objectives of the Regional Strategic Emergency Action Plan for the Amazon.

e) Guarantee consultation processes whose purpose is free prior informed consent and in good faith in all policies, strategies, plans, activities, works and projects in indigenous, Afro-descendant and traditional communities territories.

f) Identify and abrogate the regulations and provisions that enable and accelerate deforestation, degradation, and contamination of the Amazon at the level of clearing authorizations, agrochemicals, mercury, and the like, as well as fines, sanctions, and relaxation of environmental and indigenous regulations. , Afro-descendant and traditional communities, expansion of the agricultural frontier and others.

g) Establish stricter and more effective regulations that sanction the main drivers of the destruction of the Amazon for agro-industrial, mining, hydrocarbon, mega-hydroelectric activities, commodity bioeconomy ventures and others, through the suspension of their licenses and concessions , the non-granting of financing, and the reversal of their agricultural property.

h) Implement a comprehensive governance model for the Amazon with representation and recognition of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, traditional communities, peasants and other actors in the Amazon. 

i) Create mechanisms to curb deforestation, degradation and exported contamination through the obligation to obtain an  Amazon Seal  that certifies that the agricultural, mining, biobusiness and energy products to be exported do not contribute to the three processes indicated. Establish the use and verification of the  Amazon Seal  for the large commercialization chains in the large urban centers of the Amazon countries.

j) Guarantee comprehensive, cumulative environmental impact assessments that consider alternatives to the projects under evaluation, and that they are carried out by independent entities that have no interest in said projects, and that they are executed in a transparent and participatory manner.

k) Develop actions for the restoration of degraded lands, based on native species, regeneration of flora and fauna, and avoiding monocultures and exotic species.

l) Implement actions to reduce the expansion and pressure of cattle ranching and agro-industry on the Amazon.

m) Adopt a plan to leave fossil fuels underground, generating exclusion mechanisms from the Amazon that prevent new exploration and exploitation projects, and develop progressive actions for the reduction to the elimination of current extraction projects in the Amazon. Develop fair and popular energy transition processes that respond to the contexts and dynamics of the Amazon.

n) Establish incentives for people, communities and municipalities that contribute to reducing deforestation, degradation, pollution and the preservation of the Amazon.

o) Strengthen participation, surveillance and social control mechanisms to guarantee the reduction of deforestation, degradation and contamination.

p) Develop cooperation agreements and cross-border actions to curb and combat practices that contribute to the spread of fires and deforestation, degradation and contamination between countries.

q) Strengthen cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and form a multi-country working group with the objective of addressing the impact that illegal economies and actors have on indigenous peoples located in cross-border corridors.

r) Recognize the Amazon as a subject of law and guarantee its inherent right to exist, to preserve its vital cycles, its structure and evolutionary functions, and its prompt and timely comprehensive restoration [5 ] .

[1]  The Amazon we want, Scientific Panel for the Amazon, 2022.  https://www.laamazoniaquequeremos.org/spa_publication/capitulos-en-resumen/

[2]  A call for global action to move the Amazon forest away from points of no return, Scientific Panel for the Amazon, 11/15/2022. https://www.laamazoniaquequeremos.org/spa_publication/un-llamado-a-la-accion-global-para-alejar-el-sistema-forestal-amazonico-de-los-puntos-de-inflexion-extended-version/

[3]  Declaration of Heads of State of the Amazon, Manaus, November 26, 2009.

[4]  https://www.iucncongress2020.org/en/motion/129

[5]  See precedents: Verdict  International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, Glasgow 2021 and Judgment STC 4360/2018 , pronounced by the Civil Cassation Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia in favor of the Amazon.  

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