Lula’s Impact

Lula da Silva
President of Brazil Lula da Silva

As Lula’s new presidency takes centre stage, one finds themselves reflecting on the potential impact of his policies. While concrete evidence of his past achievements is given, such as the successful reinstatement of the Amazon Fund, there are also promising prospects for the future, like the implementation of policies aimed at combating deforestation and annulling mining in protected areas by 2030. Delving into these significant changes that define Lula’s moment as a transformative leader with the potential to shape Brazil’s environmental landscape, gives a potential outlook on what the impacts of the given policies could be. 

Reinstating the Amazon Fund

Lula’s decision to reinstate the Amazon Fund has had a significant impact on Brazil’s efforts to combat deforestation and promote sustainable development. The Amazon Fund, which had been idle for three years, has now replaced other sources of funding for Brazil’s worldwide efforts to combat climate change. It currently provides funding for a wide range of conservation initiatives focused at managing forests, upholding environmental laws, and protecting biodiversity. The Amazon Fund, which was first established under Lula’s first term and now supports 102 conservation projects, has once more emerged as Brazil’s key international source of climate money. This reintroduction has had a number of beneficial effects. Germany and Norway have both resumed their contributions to the Amazon Fund since Lula’s return to office, and US climate envoy John Kerry hinted in March that the US would also begin making contributions to the fund. In more than 10 years, the fund has helped 103 projects and disbursed nearly $1.3bn, based on the achievements in reducing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. 

Firstly, the Amazon Fund plays a crucial role in reducing deforestation rates in the Amazon. Amazon deforestation falls over 60% compared with last July, says Brazilian minister. Marina Silva welcomes progress but says the climate crisis means the upcoming regional summit needs to produce real action.

The Fund helps to conserve public lands’ forests, protected regions, and degraded areas by encouraging sustainable practices and upholding environmental regulations. These initiatives have aided in slowing down deforestation rates in Brazil, protecting crucial ecosystems and preserving priceless species. After four years of rising destruction, deforestation dropped by 33.6 per cent during Lula’s first six months in office. Also, the Amazon Fund has several effects on Brazil. The country received more than USD $1bn through the Amazon Fund during Lula’s first term as president. The policy is also expected to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with deforestation.

Although this mechanism is crucial to pulling in international climate funding, the amount used to reduce emissions at the agreed-upon price is insufficient. Therefore, reinstating the Amazon Fund provides a source of income for Lula to promote his ideal green economy while maintaining the status of an influential leader in Latin America’s fight against climate change. Still acknowledged is that Lula’s foreign policy overestimates the willingness of Latin America to follow in its footsteps and assert Brazil as the global representative of the region and of developing economies. 

Combating Deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado Biome

First, a coordinated strategy across more than a dozen ministries is established by the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon (PPCDAm) until the end of Lula’s presidency in 2027. It aims to create a green economy that will support the Amazon region without causing deforestation. This economy will include ecotourism promotion, certification of forest products, technical support for farmers, and provision of infrastructure, energy, and internet connections. 

Second, the policies implemented by Lula to combat deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes have shown positive impacts in Brazil. By addressing deforestation and promoting sustainable practices, Lula aims to win broad support from lawmakers, especially in the powerful farm caucus, which holds considerable influence in Congress. Lula’s political aspirations may also be aided by how well the policies safeguard livelihoods and lessen the damage brought on by deforestation. When conservation initiatives have less of a negative impact on Brazilians’ livelihoods, it may help Lula and his party perform better in future elections by influencing public opinion and gaining support for their political programme. 

A report from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) states that between May 2022 and May 2023, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest declined by about 10% while land clearing decreased by 31%.  Numerous reasons, such as the employment of tens of thousands of environmental agents, the use of satellite technology to identify deforestation, and the 30% increase in protected areas, can be ascribed to the policy’s effects. Between 2004 and 2012, the rate of deforestation was reduced by 83 per cent as a result of these actions. The decline in deforestation rates is evidence of how well Lula’s initiatives have protected the Cerrado and Amazon biomes, preserved important ecosystems, and lessened the effects of global warming.

Lula’s political ambitions may also be aided by the measures’ success in preserving livelihoods and minimising the damage brought on by deforestation. Conservation measures could potentially alter public opinion and win support for Lula’s political agenda if fewer Brazilians’ livelihoods are adversely affected. This would strengthen Lula and his party’s standing in future elections. Lula’s policies to combat deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes have had an impact on Brazilian society, economy, and business. For instance, soybeans and beef were two of the most popular agricultural exports from Brazil in 2020, when they reached a record-high value of $100.8 billion. Maintaining Brazil’s competitive advantage in the international market depends on the sustainable management of the Cerrado and Amazon biomes. Also, according to a study by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development, over 60% of Brazilian companies have adopted sustainability practices, including commitments to zero-deforestation supply chains.

Annuls Mining in Indigenous Territories and Protected Areas by 2030

Under Lula’s leadership, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples created a policy to stop mining in indigenous territories and protected areas, and this policy has advanced significantly. This includes the appointment of Sonia Guajajara, a well-known national figure, and the identification of 13 indigenous territories to be protected by the state. Lula’s ministry launched an operation to remove over 20,000 illegal miners from Brazil’s largest indigenous territory, which is home to the Yanomami tribe. 

This policy has many different repercussions on the nation. The European Union (EU), which aligns with the policy’s goal of protecting indigenous lands and the environment, has made a decision to refrain from trading with any commodities linked to deforestation, which is one noticeable result. This illustrates how the policy has worldwide repercussions and how it might affect trade and economic ties. The policy has nevertheless encountered opposition and difficulties, particularly from right-wing elements. They advocate for policies that would legalise earlier land seizures, reduce environmental licensing, and permit mining on native lands.

Ultimately, Lula’s ability to navigate these challenges and build a compelling case for his policies will determine their overall impact on his popularity and support among the Brazilian populace.

IExRAIA Summer Research Program:

This article is an excerpt from a report on Lula da Silva produced as part of an RAIA research program on climate leaders. For a full picture of Lula da Silva’s climate leadership read the full report. This project was fully financed by IE University’s School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs.

Authors: Lana Francella & Maxima Riep

Editor: Francia Morales

Project Lead: Joshua Dario Hasenstab


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