Obama sings its praises, but what is the Amazon Fund?

| 14th December 2009

The Amazon Funds aims to raise $21bn by 2020

Partnership between Brazil and Norway to prevent deforestation in the Amazon praised by US President Barack Obama

In accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway last week, Barack Obama heaped praise on the Amazon Fund.

'I am very impressed with the model that has been built between Norway and Brazil that allows for effective monitoring and ensures that we are making progress in avoiding deforestation of the Amazon,' he said.

Norway has already donated $110m to the Fund and promises a further $125m in 2010.

The Amazon Fund

The Fund was set up by the Brazilian government in 2008 to attract national and private investment into local Amazon rainforest projects that prevent and combat deforestation or restore forest areas.

All donations are managed by the Brazilian national development bank, BNDS.

According to its website, the Amazon Fund aims to raise $21bn in public and private donations by 2020.

Where will the money go?

The first series of Fund hand-outs, announced last week, will go to projects led by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation; the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment; the Institute of Environmental Conservation (TNC Brasil); the Ouro Verde Institute; and the Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity.

The largest hand-out ($11.4m) will go to the Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity to support the second phase of its Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) Project. The ARPA program has a total cost of $81.5m and includes the creation of 18 million hectares of protected areas in the Amazon region.

Other funds include $11m for the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation to pay Amazonian communities for forest maintenance services; $5.5m to mobilise communities to collect environmental and rural data; and $3.1 million to recover 1,200 hectares of degraded forest areas and to promote the recovery of family farming in six municipalities in the Portal Territory of the Amazon.

How are the results monitored?

Obama praised the Amazon Fund for its monitoring procedures, which include a Technical Committe appointed by the Brazilian Ministry of Environment to certify the emissions from deforestation of the Amazon forest.

The Amazon Fund Guidance Committee (COFA) is in charge of selecting projects to fund and following up on their results. The COFA includes representatives of federal, state and municipal government in Brazil as well as of NGOs, indigenous Brazilians, and industry, forestry and agriculture groups.

Norway's 2009 contribution to the Fund was conditional on Brazil decreasing its annual rate of deforestation between 2008 to 2009. 

'The precondition is that we can look at all of the documentation showing that deforestation is being reduced', the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said when he announced the donation last year.

What about REDD?

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) refers to the broad agreement, currently under negotiation at the Copenhagen summit, to pay less-industrialised countries to protect their forests.

Some countries want to include payments in a broader carbon market whereby they would receive carbon credits in return. Brazil would prefer the funds were paid without any credits being given in return, i.e. directly into the Amazon Fund.

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Amazon Fund

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