A new era is being ushered in as Brazil welcomes a left-wing incoming government. Perhaps one of the most pivotal roles in the government is being filled by a well-known environmental activist. And one of the biggest issues she promises to tackle is deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
As of January 1 2023 Marina Silva is the Environment Minister in new president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government. This is Silva’s second stint at the role, after previously being in the position for five years during Lula’s last presidency, which lasted from 2003 until 2011.
During her first tenure in the ministerial role, Silva received plaudits for her environmental activism and stances. In her five years as Environment minister the rate of deforestation slowed down, hundreds of arrests were made for environmental crimes, and land was set aside as indigenous reserves. Silva also helped to design the Amazon Fund, an international climate and deforestation initiative, which was backed by Norway.
She cited “the growing resistance found by our team in important sectors of the government and society” as the reason for her resignation. Yet, at the time, Silva was fighting an uphill battle, as one of the few voices willing to speak out on the environmental devastation of deforestation.
Now, as Silva returns to government, she and Lula have committed to zero deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.
“There will be no climate security if the Amazon isn’t protected,” Lula commented.
Lula and Silva both attended the U.N. climate conference in Egypt in November, where Lula committed to prosecuting all crimes related to the rainforest, from illegal logging to mining.
In recent years the Amazon has gone from being a carbon sink to now emitting more carbon than it is able to absorb. The emissions are largely caused by fires that are deliberately set in order to clear land for farming beef and soy production. Brazil’s outgoing far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, had encouraged agribusiness, with deforestation reaching a 15-year high in 2021.
Now, however, with a new government at the helm, there is hope that the Amazon will begin to recover.