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Monday, August 4, 2008

Brazil Wants $21 Billion to Protect the Amazon Rainforest

On Friday, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva headlined an event to officially launch a new international fund that will raise money to protect the Amazon Rainforest. “We are conscious of what the Amazon represents for the world… It’s better for the country’s image to do things right, so we can walk in international forums with our heads high,” Lula pontificated.

It is hoped that the fund will raise up to 21 billion dollars over the next 13 years from nations around the world. Norway has already chipped in, pledging 100 million dollars to kick things off. Brazil has made it clear though that donations are only being accepted with a condition of no strings being attached. In other words, countries that donate money will have no say over how the money is used.

This stringent policy has its roots in resentment. Some Brazilians feel that they have been unfairly criticized by other countries for the deforestation of the Amazon. They claim that these nations often sit back and provide little in the means of help, or have their own environmental peccadilloes that make these slights toward Brazil’s conservation efforts hypocritical. Brazil’s Minister for Strategic Affairs, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, voiced this sentiment at the press conference: “The fund is a vehicle by which foreign governments can help support our initiatives without exerting any influence over our national policy. We are not going to trade sovereignty for money.”

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