Leaders of nearly 50 large Brazilian and foreign companies – including Vale, Itaú, Cargill, Microsoft, and Palladium – have signed a letter to Brazilian Vice President and Chairman of the National Council for the Amazon, Hamilton Mourão, declaring environmental conservation as the only way forward.
“Never in history has the future of humankind and the planet depended so much on our capacity to understand we live on a single planet, and that our survival is directly connected to preserving and valuing its natural resources," the letter states. “The Brazilian business sector, through a group of companies and business institutions in the manufacturing, agribusiness and services industries, reaffirms today its public commitment to the sustainable development agenda."
The letter offers the support of the business community across multiple areas, including the fight against deforestation, preserving biodiversity as integral to business strategies, adopting mechanisms for negotiating carbon credits, and directing financing and investments toward a circular economy.
“The Amazon is perhaps the planet's single greatest asset in fighting climate change," say Marcio Sztutman, Regional Director on a Palladium program that creates shared value from sustainable forests and improved land use in 19 countries. "Helping Brazil make smarter use of this unique ecosystem is a must for any serious organisation."
This is the first joint statement from such an influential group of companies since President Jair Bolsonaro took office, and according to Reuters, “signals that corporate pressure for action is building within the country.” The letter follows threats last month from seven European investment firms of divestment from Brazilian assets if no progress is made on stopping deforestation in the Amazon.
“Signing this letter was a clear choice,” says Regional Director Christina Shim. “The world is more polarised than ever, and companies are increasingly shouldering responsibility for social and environmental impact – a role that should be played in partnership with governments, communities, and other stakeholders.”
According to Shim, Palladium is well-positioned to help the business community and the government create both positive environmental impact and inclusive economic growth.
“Our focus in Brazil has always been on solutions that protect and regenerate the country's natural biomes, combined with social and economic inclusion of local communities – including those that have been hardest hit by COVID-19.”
Palladium Brazil Director Aldo Labaki agrees: “Decoupling social and economic progress from deforestation is possible," he explains. "We can bring scale and financial self-sufficiency to commercially-driven business models by aligning the goals and efforts of both the private and public sectors."
For Labaki, the question is a matter of will.
"Extracting value from standing forests - and from recovering them - has already been proven feasible and profitable. The time has come to make it desirable, especially for larger companies.”
“We’re proud to put our name to this letter, and will continue to work with our Brazilian partners to further this agenda.”
The Amazon comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, 60% of which is in Brazil.
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