During a recent interview with TV Brasil, Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said the country should be paid for providing environmental services to the world. “We should receive the so-called PES—payment for environmental services. It’s something we deserve,” he argued.
Salles is in New York to attend the 74th United Nations (UN) General Assembly next to President Jair Bolsonaro. The recent reverberations of the wildfires burning in the Amazon brought the environment to the center of international debates.
The PES in Brazil, the minister said, can be advanced after the Congressional approval of a bill that creates the National Policy on the Payment for Environmental Services, aimed at regulating payment for producers, indigenous, as well as quilombola and traditional communities protecting preservation territories.
The legislation was approved at a floor session of the lower house early this month and has been submitted to the Senate.
“Brazilians living [in the Amazon] must feel that the forest is more valuable if it’s standing, that it’s important to preserve, that it brings economic benefits to all of the population,” the minister declared.
Background for preservation
Minister Salles said, “Brazil has an excellent background for environmental preservation. A country that preserved 84 percent of its Amazon biome, has 60 percent of its native vegetation and biomes preserved. Our Forest Code is a global role model for environmental occupation. Brazil has a lot of positive things to show.”
In the minister’s view, however, the country has neglected the social and economic inclusion of the people living in the Amazon in the last few decades.
“For 20 years, Brazil left these Brazilians living in the Amazon behind. It failed to bring economic development and prosperity to the region so these people could grow and have alternatives for development,” he said.
This is why, the minister stressed, the priorities of the current administration will be to include the population in the Amazon in the process of economic development.
“Amazon has some major projects, but we understand that it’s important to run the extra mile, to really incorporate these people into the economic dynamics, to give them the chance to produce, improve their lives, and also increase sanitation standards, garbage collection. There’s a number of indicators in the Amazon region that need to be improved,” Minister Salles concluded.