ACTO Environment Ministers Discuss FME 18, Rio+20, Amazon Agenda

3 February 2012: The environment ministers of the eight Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) countries met informally during the 18th session of the Forum of Environment Ministers (FME 18) of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to discuss common stances on the Forum and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), as well as to prepare for the upcoming Meeting of ACTO Environment Ministers on Rio+20 and the Amazon Cooperation Strategic Agenda (AECA). The Ministers held a "working breakfast" on 3 February 2012, the final day of FME 18, in Quito, Ecuador, hosted by Ecuador's Coordinating Ministry of Heritage and the Environment Ministry. The ACTO Secretary General briefed the ministers on its actions to fulfill the mandate given to it under the AECA and the XI Meeting of Foreign Ministers, which took place in November 2011, in Manaus, Brazil. The Environment Ministers endorsed the Manaus Declaration previously issued by the Foreign Ministers.

The Ministers briefly discussed the FME 18's draft Declaration of Quito and plans to convene later that day the first Meeting of Environment Ministers of the newly constituted Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which was scheduled to form a working group to define a LAC regional environment agenda. They agreed to cooperate to emphasize Amazonian problems as the LAC regional environmental agenda is defined.

Peru's Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who will host a formal Meeting of ACTO Environment Ministers from 20-21 March 2012, in Lima, Peru, discussed preparations for the meeting, and stressed that the meeting should adopt political commitments on sustainable development that the Amazon countries could carry to Rio+20.  He also underlined the importance of several ACTO cooperation projects to be discussed in Lima, including those to monitor deforestation, generate criteria for sustainable forest management, combat forest fires, promote the sustainable use of biodiversity, and undertake integrated management of transboundary water resources. The Ministers agreed on the importance of incorporating social inclusion in AECA implementation.

Brazil's Environment Minister Isabella Teixeira urged ACTO to work together to present a common vision for sustainable development at Rio+20 that addresses and supports the interest of Amazon Basin countries. She also discussed efforts by her government and the ACTO Secretariat to allow access of the deforestation monitoring project to the Amazon Fund administered by Brazil's National Development Bank (BNDES). She proposed that the Amazon Fund make a presentation to the Lima meeting about financing alternatives to ACTO cooperation projects. [ACTO Press Release (Spanish)] [IISD RS Article on the Manaus Meeting] [IISD RS Coverage of FME 18]