Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Labor Minister Hubertus Heil have campaigned for international support in the Amazon region in the fight against deforestation and for sustainable development in the region. “We have already paid in millions for the Amazon fund in the past. This trip also serves to make millions more available for it,” said the Green politician on Wednesday. Before that, she and her SPD colleague had met with female representatives from local cocoa cooperatives and women’s organizations on the island of Combu near the northern Brazilian city of Belém (Portuguese for: Bethlehem).

Baerbock and Heil had visited a cocoa cooperative on the island with representatives of local initiatives. The operator of a cocoa factory, Dona Nena, said that with a good harvest, around twelve tons of cocoa were produced on the island a year, some of which was sold by the cocoa farmers and cooperatives on the market in Belém. Beekeeping is also practiced on Combu, and attempts are being made to establish sustainable tourism.

In the evening (local time), the Foreign Minister wanted to travel on to Colombia. Heil wants to make his way back to Germany from Belém this Thursday.

Green lungs of the world

The Amazon is considered the lungs of the world and plays an important role in the international fight against climate change. It is spread across nine South American countries, with Brazil accounting for the largest share. According to the nature conservation organization WWF, the largest rainforest in the world with an area of ​​around seven million square kilometers binds twelve percent of the freshwater on earth and is home to ten percent of all species in the world. The WWF calculates that around 20 percent of the original area has already been destroyed. According to scientists, a tipping point could be reached at 25 percent, from which point the ecosystem can no longer regenerate.

Baerbock and Heil are campaigning for international support

“This trip also serves to make millions more available for this,” said Baerbock. “And we are appealing to other major countries in this world to do the same.” Germany has already paid 55 million euros into the Amazon fund. A further 35 million euros have been promised.

In Germany, especially during budget negotiations, the question arises as to why, as the world’s fourth-largest economy, it is the second-largest international donor, said Baerbock. Her answer: “Because it’s also a question of security for us. If supply chains like here, for example with South America, don’t work, then others fill the gap, such as the Chinese, who don’t care about social or climate standards.”

Baerbock: Not exploitation, but local value creation

More raw materials would be needed, said Baerbock. One wants to diversify in view of the dependence on China. This requires trust from the local partners. “You have to be able to rely on us doing it differently. Not exploitation, but ensuring value creation on site,” said the Green politician. “That’s why this cooperation here is also a strong economic and security policy issue.”

Heil said Germany was interested in free trade. “But we have to make sure it’s a fair trade.” This also applies to ecological standards, “because there is only one world climate” and because the Amazon region “is a lung of the world that we need to breathe for us and our children”. People should be able to work under fair working and wage conditions.

Legal tropical wood from sustainable management

In the city of Belém, Baerbock and Heil looked at work in a wood processing company. The company processes and exports legally traceable tropical wood from the Amazon region, which comes from the Brazilian national forests supported by the federal government, among other places.

Environmental Control Agency oversees deforestation and afforestation

Later both informed themselves in Belém about the work of the environmental control authority. Among other things, the deforestation of the Amazon region is monitored there and replacement afforestation is planned. The tropical rainforest is observed with the help of satellite and radar images.

Belém is located south of the world’s largest river island in the Amazon estuary and at the mouth of the Rio Guamá. With around 1.5 million inhabitants and around 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, the city is the largest and most important city in the Brazilian Amazon region after Manaus. Brazil’s government is promoting Belém as the venue for the COP30 climate change conference in 2025.

Amazon region important CO2 store

The Brazilian Amazon region is considered an important CO2 store. During the tenure of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro (2019 – 2022), deforestation and slash and burn increased sharply. The new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was not exactly considered a Green in his previous two terms of office (beginning of 2003 – end of 2010). But now he has promised to strengthen environmental and climate protection. The police recently went ahead with a large-scale operation against illegal gold prospectors.