Amazon Summit: what is the future of the Leticia Pact, the regional agreement to protect the forest

In the run-up to the Amazon Summit, Conectas explains the agreement signed in 2019 by the countries of the Amazon region and demonstrates the importance of overcoming the failures to tackle the challenges that threaten the world’s largest tropical forest

Criança do povo indígena Bora pula de um barco no rio Amazonas em Tabatinga, Brasil, na fronteira com a Colômbia e o Peru, em 9 de julho de 2023. (Foto de Juan BARRETO / AFP) Criança do povo indígena Bora pula de um barco no rio Amazonas em Tabatinga, Brasil, na fronteira com a Colômbia e o Peru, em 9 de julho de 2023. (Foto de Juan BARRETO / AFP)

The Amazon Summit, which will take place on August 8 and 9, in the Pará state capital of Belém, is the most important international event in Brazil in 2023. Proposed by President Lula in April, the idea is to revive the ACTO (Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization), which is formed by the countries that make up the Amazon region: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. 

The event could also put an end to questions about the future of the Leticia Pact, a cooperation agreement for the protection of the Amazon signed in 2019 in the city of Leticia, Colombia. The meeting was held against a backdrop of rising deforestation in the Amazon, largely caused by the denialist actions of the government of Jair Bolsonaro. 

Mandates of the Leticia Pact 

The Leticia Pact represented an important effort to tackle the environmental and social challenges in the region. Through it, the Amazonian countries committed to sixteen mandates, which can be summarized as follows: 1) combat deforestation and forest degradation, including through mechanisms for regional cooperation and information exchange to fight illegal activities and to improve mechanisms for monitoring forest cover, biodiversity, water resources and climate; 2) support sustainable production systems in both forested and deforested areas, with a view to strengthening value chains, including those associated with biodiversity, integrated fire management and forest restoration in degraded areas; 3) carry out an integrated management of protected areas and ‘sustainable landscapes’; 4) promote research, technological development, technology transfer and knowledge management; 5) create actions aimed at the empowerment of women and at strengthening the capacities of indigenous peoples; 6) develop educational campaigns about the importance of the Amazon; and 7) strengthen financial mechanisms for international cooperation.

No clear and effective goals

According to criticisms from social movements and other civil society organizations, however, the measures in the agreement are no more than a wish list, since they do not include clear goals and effective actions to be taken. Two months after the Pact, in December 2019, it was estimated that these shortcomings would be remedied through the launch of an action plan, which has not yet occurred.

Furthermore, one of the main defects identified in the Pact is the lack of participation and recognition of the territorial rights of indigenous and quilombola populations and other traditional communities. These groups play a fundamental role in protecting the Amazon and preserving its biodiversity, and their inclusion in the process of drafting the pact is essential for a more effective approach.

Flaws in the Leticia Pact 

In 2022, Conectas and other civil society organizations in Latin America signed a declaration pointing out the flaws in the Pact, primarily the lack of transparency and the lack of participation and inclusion of traditional communities in its implementation.

In July this year, during the Pre-Amazon Presidential Summit in Leticia, it is believed that the leaders worked on negotiating a new pact that will be announced at the Amazon Summit. The proposals discussed at the event, however, are not known to the public, indicating that agreements have not yet been reached on many of the topics. 

The Amazon Summit offers a crucial opportunity to address the shortcomings of the Leticia Pact and to embark on a new stage of cooperation for the region, through concrete strategies and actions to guarantee the sustainability of the Amazon and the protection of the people, communities and creatures that live there. 

Watch the video on the Amazon Summit produced by GT Infra, FBOMS, GTA, FMCJS and Conectas Human Rights

Find out more

Receive Conectas updates by email