Norway Slashes Contribution to Anti-Deforestation Amazon Fund

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By Michael Kepp

Norway, which has donated more than $1 billion in the past decade to the Amazon Fund to fight deforestation, will significantly scale back its contribution this year, arguing that Brazil’s commitment to environmental protection “might be in retreat.”

Norway will contribute a maximum of $35 million in 2017—only about one-third of its yearly average—because of a spike in Brazilian Amazon deforestation rates, Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment said in a June 23 statement.

Norway contributed $80 million to the fund last year, and has averaged $110 million a year since 2008, providing virtually the entirety of the fund’s money since it was established.

“The much higher reduction in Norway’s Amazon Fund payments in 2017, compared to 2016, will be due to a limitation on total donations,” Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, special envoy to Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiatives, told Bloomberg BNA June 23. “That limitation is due to an increase in Brazilian Amazon deforestation for the 2015- 2016 period and the fact that the reference level for performance-based payments was downwardly revised in 2016, as set by Amazon Fund rules.”

If Deforestation Drops, ‘Payments Will Go Up’

Preliminary figures announced last November showed an estimated 29 percent increase in Brazilian Amazon deforestation for the year ending July 31, 2016. Norway will announce the exact donation amount once official deforestation rates are confirmed.

The 2016 figures follow a 24 percent deforestation spike the previous year. It marks the first time in 13 years that the rate increased in consecutive years.

The drop in Norway’s Amazon Fund payments in 2017 “should not in any way be understood as a weakening of our commitments and if deforestation is brought back down, our payments will go back up,” the ministry statement said.

Since the fund was set up in 2008, Norway donated $1.1 billion of the $1.135 billion in the fund to reduce deforestation, advance forest conservation, reforest degraded areas and promote sustainable development. Germany has contributed $28 million.On June 19, Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen wrote Brazil’s Environment Minister Jose Sarney Filho warning that funding could be cut.

“Rising deforestation and other ... developments gives cause for serious concern that deforestation will rise further and that the vision of Brazil as a country that leads the world in forest protection might be in retreat,” Helgesen wrote. “It raises the real possibility that Norway’s and Germany’s very significant contributions to Brazil’s sustainability efforts over the last decade, well over $1 billion, may have only had a time-limited positive impact.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Kepp in Rio de Janeiro at correspondents@bna.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

For More Information

The statement from Norway's Ministry of Climate and Environment is available at http://bit.ly/2tWRJAc.

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