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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Amazon’s ‘Forest Peoples’ Seek a Role in Striking Global Climate Agreements

Published: April 6, 2008

MANAUS, Brazil — Some wore traditional headdresses, and some traveled by riverboat or canoe. But the dozens of “forest peoples” who descended on this capital of Amazonas State last week had a common goal of becoming bigger players in global climate talks.

A conference here that ended last Friday drew leaders of hundreds of indigenous groups in 11 Latin American countries and observers from Indonesia and Congo, the largest gathering of its kind, organizers said. They came to build a consensus for a plan in which wealthier countries would compensate developing countries for conserving tropical forests like the Amazon.

Such an international carbon-trading plan has been gaining momentum and was a central topic last December at a climate conference in Bali, Indonesia. Scientists generally agree that tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a real sense that this potentially represents a huge opportunity for forest peoples to influence climate change negotiations and create larger-scale incentives to stop deforestation and improve their living conditions,” said Stephan Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund in New York, who attended the discussions here.

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