Green Or Gone

How To Conserve The Amazon Rainforest: Pay The Rent

The Amazon jungle provides benefits that extend well beyond the river basin itself. It stands to reason, therefore, that countries like Colombia be paid to protect it.

Fires in the state of Amazonia in Brazil.
Juan Pablo Ruiz Soto

-OpEd-

There's something off-putting about negotiations over the Amazon rainforest. It's easy to be cynical, to imagine the commercial interests at stake, the neoliberal machinations.

A natural first reaction here in Colombia may be to say that: "This is our rainforest. There's nothing to negotiate." That's precisely what Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said a while back to members of the foreign press. "The Amazon is ours, not yours." In the meantime, though, Brazil continues to allow the destruction of native reservations as tracts of rainforest are handed over to farmers and miners for short-term profit.

To safeguard the rainforest, it's necessary to show that the palpable benefits of conservation are bigger and better for locals than the short-term profits that motivate Bolsonaro. That's why I suggest that local communities and countries as a whole be compensated for the benefits a forest generates, and that the compensation come from all those who benefit from that forest.

All of this, though, brings us back to the issue of negotiations, and the need to define the key points of those dealings.

In 2015, Colombia negotiated a transfer of funds with the United Kingdom, Germany and Norway with a commitment on its part to eliminate deforestation by 2020. And last year, it renegotiated and agreed to receive $360 million in return to reducing deforestation to 150,000 hectares in 2022, no more than 100,000 in 2025 and zero by 2030.

To safeguard the rainforest, it's necessary to show that the palpable benefits of conservation are bigger and better for locals.

This agreement is a negotiation based on Colombia's capabilities and the costs for the government of curbing deforestation. But these payments are not for the environmental service provided by the remaining forest that spans 55 million hectares in Colombia, 70% of which is part of the Amazon. They are not what is termed Compensation for Environmental Services (CES).

CES is like a rental payment for indirect use. I pay if the way the space is used generates the benefits I expect. For example, imagine that I have a beehive and my neighbor has five hectares of flowers that give her $27 per hectare a year. Except now she has an opportunity to turn the land into a car park that will bring in $32 per hectare. What to do? Simple: I pay her the difference — for my own sake, so that she keeps her flowers and I keep my bee business going.

Member of the Huni Kuin tribe, whose land in Brazil was set on fire by farmers. — Photo: David Tesinsky/ZUMA

The following year, should my neighbor turn one hectare into a car park, I would stop paying for that hectare, but if interested I should still pay for the remaining four hectares of flowers that feed my bees. It is not a stable or permanent accord. It would be revised periodically and adjusted or canceled when conditions change. This applies both to the beneficiary of the environmental service (the beekeeper) and the party defining the use of space (the landowner). It is a voluntary accord with defined terms.

Likewise, it is reasonable for Colombia to demand additional subsidies for preservation efforts that reflect the potential economic gain presented by the remaining forest mass, rather than for marginal variations or annual reduction in deforestation. Our renegotiation of compensations for safeguarding our forests should be part of the country's sustainable, greener economic reactivation.

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Thousands of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Friday, where the new U.S.-UK-Australia security pact is under fire, Italy becomes the first country to make COVID-19 "green pass" mandatory for all workers, and Prince Philip's will is to be kept secret for 90 years. From Russia, we also look at the government censorship faced by brands that recently tried to promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness in their ads.

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• U.S. facing multiple waves of migrants, refugees: The temporary camp, located between Mexico's Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio in Texas, is housing some 10,000 people, largely from Haiti. With few resources, they are forced to wait in squalid conditions and scorching temperatures amidst a surge of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. Meanwhile, thousands of recently evacuated Afghan refugees wait in limbo at U.S. military bases, both domestic and abroad.

• COVID update: Italy is now the first European country to require vaccination for all public and private sector workers from Oct. 15. The Netherlands will also implement a "corona pass" in the following weeks for restaurants, bars and cultural spaces. When he gives an opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly next week, unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will defy New York City authorities, who are requiring jabs for all leaders and diplomats.

• U.S. and UK face global backlash over Australian deal: The U.S. is attempting to diffuse the backlash over the new security pact signed with Australia and the UK, which excludes the European Union. The move has angered France, prompting diplomats to cancel a gala to celebrate ties between the country and the U.S.

• Russian elections: Half of the 450 seats in Duma are will be determined in today's parliamentary race. Despite persistent protests led by imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny, many international monitors and Western governments fear rigged voting will result in President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party maintaining its large majority.

• Somali president halts prime minister's authority: The decision by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed marks the latest escalation in tensions with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble concerning a murder investigation. The move comes as the Horn of Africa country has fallen into a political crisis driven by militant violence and clashes between clans.

• Astronauts return to Earth after China's longest space mission: Three astronauts spent 90 days at the Tianhe module and arrived safely in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. The Shenzhou-12 mission is the first of crewed missions China has planned for 2021-2022 as it completes its first permanent space station.

• Prince Philip's will to be kept secret for 90 years: A British court has ruled that the will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth who passed away in April at 99 years old, will remain private for at least 90 years to preserve the monarch's "dignity and standing."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

With a memorable front-page photo, Argentine daily La Voz reports on the open fight between the country's president Alberto Fernández and vice-president Cristina Kirchner which is paralyzing the government. Kirchner published a letter criticizing the president's administration after several ministers resigned and the government suffered a major defeat in last week's midterm primary election.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

€150

An Italian investigation uncovered a series of offers on encrypted "dark web" websites offering to sell fake EU COVID vaccine travel documents. Italy's financial police say its units have seized control of 10 channels on the messaging service Telegram linked to anonymous accounts that were offering the vaccine certificates for up to €150. "Through the internet and through these channels, you can sell things everywhere in the world," finance police officer Gianluca Berruti told Euronews.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

In Russia, brands advertising diversity are under attack

Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

❌ "On behalf of the entire company, we want to apologize for offending the public with our photos..." reads a recent statement by Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi after publishing an advertisement that included a photograph of a Black man. Shortly after, the company's co-founder, Konstantin Zimen, said people on social media were accusing Yobidoyobi of promoting multiculturalism. Another recent case involved grocery store chain VkusVill, which released advertising material featuring a lesbian couple. The company soon began to receive threats and quickly apologized and removed the text and apologized.

🏳️🌈 For the real life family featured in the ad, they have taken refuge in Spain, after their emails and cell phone numbers were leaked. "We were happy to express ourselves as a family because LGBTQ people are often alone and abandoned by their families in Russia," Mila, one of the daughters in the ad, explained in a recent interview with El Pais.

🇷🇺 It is already common in Russia to talk about "spiritual bonds," a common designation for the spiritual foundations that unite modern Russian society, harkening back to the Old Empire as the last Orthodox frontier. The expression has been mocked as an internet meme and is widely used in public rhetoric. For opponents, this meme is a reason for irony and ridicule. Patriots take spiritual bonds very seriously: The government has decided to focus on strengthening these links and the mission has become more important than protecting basic human rights.Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa's vaccines?"

— During an online conference, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, implored the international community to do more to inoculate people against COVID-19 in Africa and other developing regions. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3.6% of people living in Africa have been fully vaccinated. The continent is home to 17% of the world population, but only 2% of the nearly six billion shots administered so far have been given in Africa, according to the W.H.O.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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