PM Phillips calls on Amazon nations to pursue robust agenda…

Prime Minister Brigadier Retired Mark Phillips with leaders of the countries within the Amazon region

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), the Honourable Mark Phillips, has called on states within the Amazon region to pursue a robust agenda and find viable solutions to combat challenges, underscoring that environmental protection must not translate to the absence of development in the respective countries.

The Prime Minister made these remarks at the opening of the Amazon Cooperation
Treaty Organization (ACTO) in Belem, the capital of the Amazon state of Para, Brazil.
The leaders of eight South American nations that share the Amazon rainforest are a part
of the meeting with the objective of reaching a broad agreement on preserving the
critical region.

“If we continue on our current trajectory, the prognosis offers no relief in sight. The
status quo of the environment is clearly on a downward spiral, and it is in the interest of
future generations that a concerted effort be made to arrest the situation,” he

In his address, he underscored the importance of the Amazon rainforest and said it
plays an invaluable role in climate flight. The rainforest described globally as a “carbon
sink” has the ability to easily absorb pollutants from harsh emissions.

According to the Prime Minister, the challenges of illegal forest activities, deforestation,
and forest fires, threaten the delicate equilibrium of the basin and the livelihoods of
indigenous and other communities. Therefore, the states that are part of the Amazon
must bear the responsibility for safeguarding this invaluable natural resource for the
benefit of current and future generations, he stressed.

“We must be resolute in our efforts to combat these threats and to ensure that our
initiatives under the ACTO cooperation programme have a strong focus on the
sustainable management of forests, forest preservation and forest conservation,” the
Honourable Prime Minister said.

During his address, Prime Minister Phillips reminded South American leaders of
Guyana’s dedication to preserving and conserving the environment. He emphasised that
Guyana is committed to playing its part in the fight against climate change.

“In keeping with our commitment to the sustainable development of our natural
resources, Guyana, as an emerging oil state, continues to direct its efforts towards the
diversification of its energy portfolio to include renewable energy sources,” he assured.

Indigenous Voices

Further, the honourable Guyanese Prime Minister stated that indigenous people have
shared a sacred relationship with the land and the forest. As he charged leaders to
include indigenous people and voices in the development process, he explained that, “It
is therefore imperative that they continue to play an integral part of the ACTO
sustainable development mechanism.”

Prime Minister Phillips also highlighted that indigenous communities continue to play
an invaluable role in the protection and preservation of the Amazon region, noting that
for generations, they have depended on the Amazon for food, shelter, medicine and
livelihood. “Their traditional knowledge continues to be of great value to the
preservation of the Amazon region,” he added.

Prime Minister Phillips further stated that the Summit must bring to bear the awareness
of the great urgency with which the international community needs to reconcile its
commitment to the world we live in. The efforts must be with equal fervour as large
countries did two years ago when the covid pandemic reordered our lives.

“The States of the Amazon must raise our collective voice and develop strategic
partnerships that will ensure that the commitments made during those deliberations are
realised for our mutual benefit,” the Prime Minister added.

He said too, that the Amazon states must remain united for the forests and continue to
advocate for the adoption and implementation of Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+
Frameworks within voluntary and compliance market-based structures.

This, he said, “can catalyse climate finance, information exchange, expertise sharing,
and collective problem-solving, fostering a united effort in addressing climate mitigation
and adaptation goals at the regional level.”

Advanced policy pathways for High Forest Low Deforestation countries and
jurisdictions with high carbon ecosystems, such as mangroves, peatlands, mature forests
and marshes to access climate finance must be a part of the discussions, not only at this
summit but also at the upcoming CoP 28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

He emphasized that as part of ACTO’s role in promoting regional cooperation and
sustainable development in the basin, work must be done to quickly strengthen
collaboration and implement innovative initiatives to protect the region's natural

This objective, the Prime Minister noted, can be achieved by bolstering ACTO’s
structure and empowering its various mechanisms. “We can collectively pave the way
for a more resilient and prosperous future, ensuring the preservation of our shared
ecological heritage.”

“Let us seize this historic opportunity as leaders of countries responsible for the Amazon
rain forest to demonstrate our determination and resolve in tackling the environmental
challenges and forging a sustainable, equitable future for all,” the Prime Minister said as
he urged leaders to be committed to the cause.

ACTO’s member nations are Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname,
Venezuela and Brazil.

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