This past Tuesday morning, I joined a group of Brazilian Greenpeace volunteers to welcome the new Rainbow Warrior as she begins the Brazilian leg of her maiden voyage. From the city of Manaus, we took four boats, national TV journalists in tow, a few kilometers downstream to meet and welcome the ship at the Encontro das Águas (“the meeting of the waters”), where the dark Rio Negro meets the sand-colored Amazon River.
From Manaus, the ship is about to embark on a multiweek journey out of the Amazon, followed by a tour around the coast of Brazil in time for Rio +20 in June.
This morning, however, was the main event- the launch of the Zero Deforestation Initiative. The Brazilian Constitution allows Brazilian voters to advance a ‘public law, where, if supporters can collect the signatures of 1% of the population, the Brazilian congress will be required to vote on the law. Today, Greenpeace Brazil announced launched its new campaign to collect the signatures of 1.4 million voters to support a national Zero Deforestation law.
Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace Brazil Executive Director Marcelo Furtado, and Amazon Campaign Director and United Nations Forest Hero, Paulo Adario presented the campaign in the hull of the Rainbow Warrior, which was packed with journalists, local government representatives and NGOs. Our allies, including indigenous groups, unions from the Amazon region, and the Federal Public Prosecutor joined the presentation and pledged enthusiastic support. It was inspiring to see that Greenpeace was far from being alone in this mission and also a solemn reminder to hear from those who live on the front lines of deforestation and are impacted by the violent land conflicts occurring in the frontier areas of the Amazon.
This past year, the world witnessed the Brazilian congress pass Forest Code legislation that would severely weaken the country’s forest protections, despite the Brazilian public opinion being overwhelmingly opposed. In addition, we watched Brazilian President Dilma weaken the authority of the federal government to enforce environmental laws. This petition-like effort allows the Brazilian public to take back the future of their forests.
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If you hadn’t already, write to Brazilian President Dilma, and urge her to not turn her back on the Amazon.
If you are Brazilian, or have Brazilian friends, you can help make Zero Deforestation in the Amazon a reality and help save the Amazon once and for all.