Conservation Goal for the Amazon Exceeded: More Than 60 Million Hectares Protected
The World Wildlife Fund announced Friday that the Program for Protected Areas of the Amazon (ARPA), a joint venture with the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, has reached the goal of protecting a network of conservation units of at least 60 million hectares in the Amazon. This effort represents the conservation of 15 percent of the biome's territory in Brazil.
The largest strategy on the planet for conservation and sustainable use of tropical forests, the ARPA program is now present in 117 conservation units, including the categories of national park, state park, ecological station, biological reserve, extractive reserve and sustainable development reserve in the states of Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins.
ARPA works closely with the local communities and invests in the creation, expansion, strengthening and maintenance of conservation units, by ensuring resources and promoting sustainable development in the region. Conservation units that are part of the program benefit from goods, projects and service contracts, such as the establishment of councils, management plans, land surveys and inspection, as well as integration activities with resident communities (in the case of sustainable use conservation units) and their surrounding environment. Overall, the program has supported the strengthening of communities in thirty protected areas.
"The great challenge is to ensure that the units reach their conservation goals, in a participatory and transparent manner, which can be carried out through the support of resources from donations and from the government itself," stated the Minister of Environment Sarney Filho.
The areas covered by the initiative represent more than 35 percent of the conservation units in the Amazon and contribute directly to the conservation goals established by Brazil in international commitments, such as those undertaken in the Convention on Biological Diversity, in which the country proposes to protect 30 percent of the Amazon by 2020 (equivalent to 126 million hectares). The program also safeguards local biodiversity. From the total of protected units, 39 of them are home to more than 8,800 species, or 88 percent of bird species, 68 percent of mammal species and 55 percent of reptile species of the entire Amazon.
For Sarney Filho, the only alternative to minimize biodiversity losses is to protect conservation areas. "Since Brazil has the largest system of protected areas on the planet today, we hope to surpass the current results in the coming years, by consolidating ARPA's protected area management system, strengthening the value of the standing forest and the role of traditional peoples," he said. "We also have the challenge of soon being ready to take on investments in the management of the conservation units, according to the forecast of the program's third phase goals, which are already in the works."
Data from the Deforestation Monitoring System in the Legal Amazon indicate that the protected areas supported by ARPA have deforestation rates about 2.3 times lower than in similar conservation units that are not part of the program.
A study carried out by professor Britaldo Silveira Soares Filho from UFMG—the Federal University of Minas Gerais—between 2005 and 2015 showed the effectiveness of the protected areas of the Amazon in the reduction of 30.3 percent of total deforestation in the biome, which were pivotal to avoid about 1.4 to 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions.
The study also pointed out that the units supported by the ARPA program are responsible for 25 percent of these reductions, equivalent to the annual emissions from global transportation. This shows an effective contribution that the program gives not only to the Amazon, but to the world.
The numbers contribute to international commitments such as those under the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.
In the same period, ARPA-supported conservation units had a 17 percent management effectiveness increase in protected areas compared to unsupported ones. Data was collected using the Rappam method (Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management), developed by the WWF Network. The tool makes it possible to identify trends and aspects that must be considered in order to achieve better management effectiveness in a protected area system or group.
"The information points out that the level of effectiveness in protected areas outside ARPA is much lower. In the ARPA conservation units, this number went from an intermediate level of management effectiveness (45 percent) to a high (62 percent) level," said WWF-Brazil Executive Director Mauricio Voivodic. "More effective management means healthier ecosystems, which in turn enables people, plants and animals to have greater access to water, food and other environmental services," he added.
According to a study conducted by the program, ARPA-supported conservation units can generate $23 million per year for forest-based local economies. Overall, ARPA supported the strengthening of communities in 30 protected areas.
One of the highlights of the ARPA was the launch in 2012 of the "Commitment to the Amazon—ARPA for Life" initiative, with the objective of ensuring long-term maintenance of the Amazon forest and the protection of biodiversity and environmental services of the largest forest in the world. Through an innovative financial strategy, which included resources from private companies, non-governmental and international organizations, the initiative aims to raise $215 million (more than BRL$ 500 million). With this amount, it will be possible to consolidate and maintain ARPA's target of 60 million hectares by 2039.
Long-term financing will only be possible through the gradual increase of public resources for the management and administration of conservation units. After a period of 25 years, the government of Brazil will take on 100 percent of the protection costs for these units. A transitional fund will also be created to function as a bridge until the federal and state governments can ensure the permanent maintenance of ARPA-supported conservation units with resources sufficient to cover the necessary investments.
ARPA is designed to function in three phases. It is currently in the third phase (2014-2039). It is implemented by management institutions of federal and state conservation units. It operates through a public-private partnership (PPP) that makes it possible for resources from donations to be fully internalized in Brazil via Funbio, a civil society organization of public interest.
The management structure is composed of the program committee (with representatives from state and federal governments, donors and civil society), the transitional fund committee (with representatives from donors and the federal government) and a scientific advisory panel (composed of specialists in the themes related to the program's operations).
After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.
A Convergence of Issues<p>The unequal impacts of a changing climate have become extremely clear in 2020, so equity has come to the fore of climate conversations in every corner of the country. A global deadly pandemic continues to rage out of control in the U.S., heat waves are setting new temperature records, wildfires are scorching American Western states, and the hurricane season has already made it to the end of the alphabet for naming storms. In all cases, low-income, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities are bearing a disproportionate amount of the impacts.</p><p>"Today, the scab is off, the ugly reality of injustice is hitting us up close and personal, made more realistic by this COVID pandemic," Bullard says.</p><p>This year the decidedly youthful focus on intersectionality is a big part of what defines the transformation of the climate movement. Climate is not just an environmental issue, according to youth activists. It's also a racial justice issue, an economic issue, and an access-to-health care issue.</p><p>"Environmental justice is really seeing the intersection of these issues," says Alex Rodriguez, a community organizer with the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which aims to make environmental issues a priority for the state's elected leaders. The group is now focusing their efforts on the coming election and recently succeeded in persuading the state to allow absentee voting in November. "We want people to be safe when casting their vote," says Rodriguez, 26, whose fellow grassroots committee members range from age 16 to 60.</p><p>Rodriguez, who also serves on the equity and environmental justice working group for the Governor's Council on Climate Change, says, "We see our programmatic work as a way to help lawmakers see what they can do to improve the dignity of those suffering from environmental racism, systematic racism, and economic oppression."</p><p>Seeing the overlap and bringing these issues together is a strength that Bullard says was missing from the civil rights organizing he was involved with in the 1960s. He says 2020 is unique in many ways.</p><p>"The number of marchers is unprecedented, from different economic, ethnic, and racial groups—an awakening unlike any that I've seen on this Earth in over 70 years," Bullard says. "Today, the different movements are converging, and I think that convergence makes for greater potential for success."</p>
Young and Old<p>But young people are one essential demographic among many when it comes to climate action. With all that's on the line for climate in the coming elections, up and down the ballot, collaboration becomes key. Bullard says previous generations of climate activists can now play the critical role of mentoring, assisting, and supporting. Standing with, not in front of, youth.</p><p>"Youth are leading us and taking on frontline activity," says Jayce Chiblow, the community engagement lead for Indigenous Climate Action, a Canadian organization that works for Indigenous-led climate justice solutions. But in doing so, she says many young Indigenous activists are experiencing the trauma of violence, getting arrested, and being taken away from their land. "All of our older people are supporting those youth: Elders, mentors, people trained in nonviolent action," Chiblow says. "The youth aren't alone."</p><p>That support can go a long way. "There's a lot of anger and a lot of fear, and that's understandable," says Wazer of Sunrise Connecticut. "I definitely feel those things, too, just considering the ways that our future has been threatened and kind of trashed by older generations."</p><p>Under the Trump administration, the number of environmental rollbacks alone can be disheartening, not to mention new <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/video/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/" target="_blank">drilling permits in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge going up for auction</a>.</p><p>Wazer is frank about the risks of burnout, depression, and anxiety from the stress of it all, but draws inspiration from the example of the late U.S. representative and lifelong civil rights activist John Lewis. "That forgiveness and that ability to keep fighting and stay motivated … I think that that is something really powerful to learn from older generations."</p><p>An intergenerational approach can leverage the individual strengths of youth and older people in all their diversity.</p><p>"The elders hold our stories," says Chiblow, who is Anishinaabe from Garden River First Nation, Ontario. Those stories include lived experiences, culture, history, and generations of adapting to changes in climate. Such collective experience continues to inform Indigenous knowledge and connections to the land, as well as how people manage and govern themselves in relation to it. This knowledge is passed on through relationship-building and storytelling.</p><p>"Every time you hear that story, you're at a different point in your life, and you'll pick up something else … something new," Chiblow says.</p><p>Changes in perspectives that come with time and experience are among the reasons why intergenerational learning and coalitions are critical to the climate movement. To combine that living and learning is to expand the reach and meaning of the message exponentially. As part of her research for her master's degree, Chiblow brought together youth, community leaders, and knowledge keepers in her community to workshop climate action. "Those relationships are vital to keep that movement going," Chiblow says.</p>
The Unique Value Proposition of Elders<p>Older activists bring unique strengths to the table, according to gerontologist Mick Smyer, who designs strategies to move people from anxiety to action on climate. He calls himself "the aging whisperer to climate groups" and "the climate whisperer to aging groups." He is quick to point out that the learning can go in both directions.</p><p>"I think older adults are untapped resources," Smyer says. "Older adults bring several resources, one of which is their circles of influence. Just by virtue of having lived longer, older adults are going to have denser and richer networks," Smyer says. "The second is, when it comes to voting and civic engagement, older adults, as an age group, outperform all other age groups."</p><p>He uses the 2016 presidential election to illustrate his point: "The older age groups, 70% of them voted. Nobody [else] came close." He is cautious about making sweeping statements about older people broadly, but he says that ageism is alive and well. And that can deter the kind of collaboration that would beget necessary progress on climate action.</p><p>As the twin global patterns of an aging population and a changing climate continue arm in arm, Smyer says a good place for starting this work is within one's family.</p><p>"We each have that power to use in our circles of influence, particularly in our families, and we don't realize it," Smyer says. Whether it's via Zoom or FaceTime or a phone call or a chat in the living room, Smyer says, family members have a superpower: They will listen to each other, and they'll at least start the conversation.</p><p> "Intergenerational collaboration around climate issues, particularly in this election season, starts at home, and then goes to the polling booth," he says.</p>
Speaking the Same Language<p>As an individual's network of family, friends, and connections becomes wider and more diverse, the more work will need to be done to have them all working toward the same goals. That is equally true for the climate movement at large.</p><p>In bridging the gaps among baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, Bullard says, "Each generation will have some idiosyncrasy and uniqueness about it that another generation will not understand or comprehend."</p><p>If everybody in a group or institution is similar, then there's no need to explain a lot, Bullard says. There's usually a fair amount of shared knowledge and values. But the more diverse that group gets, in age, race, gender, or culture, he says, the greater the potential for making mistakes, stepping on people's culture, and causing pain. But the potential for learning also increases exponentially.</p><p>Chiblow says successful collaboration comes down to being able to speak in shared concepts. The term "justice," for example, is an English word that's hard to translate into the Anishinaabe language. Chiblow says that because her community sees itself as belonging to the land, and being part of the land, the Anishinaabe worldview, and therefore their understanding of justice, is necessarily more holistic than the mainstream.</p><p>"Indigenous people have been feeling [the effects of climate change] for so long," Chiblow says. Today, as wildfires rage across the West, the mantra of "I can't breathe" is being driven home on a grand scale. For better and worse, climate justice is finally a front-page story.</p><p>"It's affecting the broader society," Chiblow says. "We're finally at the turning point where we could start to make real change because … people are really starting to feel that urgency."</p><p>The urgency will be tantamount in the coming election. A lot is at stake, says Chiblow: "Incentives, funding, all-around agreement, and also the way we're able to manage our lands and ourselves as people."</p><p>Bullard, too, is insistent on urgency. "This election is one of the most important elections of a generation, because there's so many things at stake," he says. "We can't wait another 40 years on climate. We don't have that much time. We don't have 40 years to get justice."</p><p>Issues of climate justice will be on the ballot in state and local elections this fall, such as Nevada's proposed renewable energy standards and Louisiana's proposed disaster funding. And the topic has finally made it onto the national stage. Joe Biden called Trump a "climate arsonist" for not acting on or even admitting that the wildfires in California are clearly climate-related. The frequency and intensity of such disasters is indisputable.</p><p>"Hurricanes don't swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don't skip towns that voted a certain way," Biden <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-address-west-coast-fires-confront-growing-threat/story?id=73000218" target="_blank">said in a speech on Sept. 14</a>. "The impacts of climate change don't pick and choose. That's because it's not a partisan phenomenon."</p><p>In many ways, the results of the upcoming elections will reflect the ways youth activists and older activists are able come to a common understanding of what climate justice means and what they want the future world to look like. </p><p>"There's a lot of knowledge built up in experience, and there's a lot of energy that's stored in young people," Bullard says. "When you put those two together, you have … an excellent recipe for potential success."</p>
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By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
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Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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