Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit



Brazil's president says he will stop deforestation of the Amazon by 2030. In the first six months in office, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been making good on that pledge. But to reach the goal, Lula says he needs help from his neighbors, who share the massive rainforest. He also needs money from rich countries. Tomorrow, Lula hosts what he has billed as the Amazon summit to rally support for his conservation push. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: In one of his regular YouTube chats with the president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said leaders of the Amazon countries must have a unified preservation plan to present to the world.



KAHN: "We need to tell the world what we want to do with our forests and how they have to help," he said. Lula wants to take that plan to the annual U.N. climate conference in Dubai later this year. The eight leaders of countries with territory in the massive Amazon are expected to attend the summit in northern Brazil. Senior officials from the U.S., France, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo and Indonesia have also been invited.


DA SILVA: (Speaking Portuguese).

KAHN: "Together we will have to demand that the rich countries fulfill their commitments," Lula said at a recent gathering with fellow leftist, Colombian President Gustavo Petro. Lula says despite pledging billions of dollars for Amazon protection, the rich have yet to pay up.


DA SILVA: (Speaking Portuguese).

KAHN: "After all, historically, they are the ones who have emitted the most greenhouse gases," he added. President Biden pledged $500 million to the Amazon Fund, an international pool of money for preservation projects, but Congress has yet to approve the money. Mario Sergio Nery is a federal police supervisor in the key Amazon state of Para. He says money is key to combating a growing network of well-resourced criminals who work across borders.

MARIO SERGIO NERY: (Speaking Portuguese).

KAHN: "We need this international cooperation because if there is a problem in one place, it will be felt in another, not just here in Brazil," he says. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have seen massive rainforest destruction in recent years. In Brazil, though, Lula has chalked up some wins since beating his far-right rival Jair Bolsonaro, who oversaw record deforestation. Since the beginning of the year, forest loss has dropped by a third. Thousands of illegal miners have been run off Indigenous lands, and Brazil is set to host the U.N. climate conference in 2025.

However, Lula is struggling with a pro-agribusiness congress wary of his environmental agenda, while also trying to manage the demands of environmentalists and Indigenous leaders for quicker and tougher protections. Alessandra Korap is an Indigenous leader with the Mundukuru (ph) people in Para state. She says she wasn't invited to the Amazon summit but is going anyway to give the presidents a message.

ALESSANDRA KORAP: (Speaking Portuguese).

KAHN: "They must respect our rights, consult with us and develop public policy to help Indigenous people," she says. With all the pressures at home, Lula should get a much needed international win from the summit, says Brian Winter of the Council of the Americas. Lula has angered many in the West with his refusal to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and his warm relations with Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

BRIAN WINTER: This is an opportunity for Lula to say, look, this is a complicated problem. I need your help. We need to be talking to each other for the good of the planet.

KAHN: Colombian President Petro, who backs Lula and has also pledged zero deforestation in his country, says the fate of the world depends on it.



KAHN: "We used to think that the way to progress was the destruction of trees," he said. "Today, though, that is nothing more than the destruction of life."

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADANNA DURU SONG, "POP!") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.