Norway and Germany Reject Proposed Changes to Amazon Fund

Ricardo Salles has defended proposed changes in the fund's contracts governance

São Paulo

The Amazon Fund has received more R$3.1 billion in donations in the last ten years to fight deforestation, and Bolsonaro's Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, wants to change its governance.

The fund's main funders, Norway and Germany, disapprove of these attempted changes.

Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles attends a news conference at the Ibama office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli ORG XMIT: GGG-AMP04 - REUTERS

In a letter Salles, Norway and Germany requested that the current structure of the Amazon Fund be maintained.

"In the absence of any agreed changes regarding the governance of the Amazon Fund, we expect BNDES to continue to manage the fund and approve projects following existing agreements and guidelines," the letter said.

The fund is the largest international cooperation project to preserve the Amazon rainforest. In ten years, it has received more than R$ 3.1 billion in donations—93.3% of that money came from Norway. Managed by BNDES, the amount is passed on to states, municipalities, universities, and NGOs.

The donations to the Amazon Fund correlate to the reduction of deforestation—the less deforestation, the higher the donated value.

Salles recently said he had encountered problems in the fund's contracts and called for changes.

In the letter, Norway and Germany disagree with the minister's statement and said that the BNDES audits annually, following international standards, and that so far they are "unanimous in recognizing the efficient use of the resources of the Amazon Fund and in the measurable impacts on the reduction of deforestation".

Salles' move led to the departure of Daniela Baccas, the head of the BNDES fund.

"None of the tax and impact audits already carried out has revealed any irregularity or mismanagement of the fund's resources," the letter said.

The minister also wants to reduce the Cofa (Amazon Fund Steering Committee) and increase the strength of the federal government in the committee by reducing from 23 to seven seats - five for the federal government, one for states' representatives and one for civil society.

"Having a diverse and balanced representation of authorities and civil society in Cofa also contributes to increasing transparency of information and accountability in decision making," the letter said

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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