We are about to collapse and burn fast, warns senior climate change researcher

22 Sep 2021

Amazonia conference opens online with dire predictions – pinpoints preservation efforts from within the biome

BONN, Germany — Luciana Gatti, senior climate change researcher for National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and lead author of July’s headline-making Nature study on the Amazon’s net-positive carbon emissions, opened a global conference on the Amazon Biome on Tuesday.

“We are about to collapse and burn fast,” Gatti warned. “We are in the tipping point of the Amazon, but this is reversible.”

Gatti said that during the last 50 years, the Amazon area lost 17% of its forest. Last year, it lost about 1.5%. She called for urgent actions and general measures to control and ultimately end deforestation during dry seasons when fires take the most harmful effect, as well as to find more sustainable ways to manage agriculture and re-establish the ecosystem.

“The change in Atlantic circulation links to the Amazon dieback which links to the thawing of permafrost and Arctic meltdown,” said Robert Nasi, Director-General of the Center for International Forestry Research. “These things are very dangerous because they can create cascading effects that will impact the whole basis of the biosphere and life’s survival systems.”

“We’re in trouble, he added. “These tipping points are interrelated, they are not independent.”

The drying of the Amazon is on track to severely jeopardize species survival, threaten the livelihoods of its more than 30 million people, accelerate the climate crisis, alter the Earth’s water cycles, disrupt global food systems and cause trillions of dollars in damage to the global economy.

GLF Amazonia: The Tipping Point – Solutions From Inside Out addressed the emergency of preserving and restoring the biological and cultural diversity of the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Thousands of people are set to attend the three-day event virtually, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Why did COVID happen? Because we pollute the air, we pollute the water, we torture Mother Nature,” said Nemonte Nenquimo, Ecuadorian Amazon Waorani leader. “We Indigenous Peoples have been struggling for a long time to maintain balance [with nature] in climate change. I want people from the outside to hear us and to know that we are fighting for our lives – not only our life, but that of humankind.”

On Tuesday, Gatti and other conference participants, including Ecuadorian economist and former Minister of Energy and Mines, Alberto Acosta; Joênia Wapichana, the first Indigenous woman elected federal deputy in Brazil; and María Alexandra Moreira López, Secretary General of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) and former Bolivian Minister of Environment and Water addressed the challenges affecting the Amazon biome, including balancing competing land use demands, combating deforestation, mitigating the spread of fires and enacting better legislation.

Other speakers on the opening day included: Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of the MapBiomas initiative, a platform to produce annual land cover and land use maps at the country level. Azevedo has helped reduce the rate of deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest by 75 percent — and inspired similar efforts around the world; Lourdes Miranda Tiguayo, a human rights and environmental defender and leader of Land and Territory and Natural Resources in the Guarani Nation in Bolivia; Rodrigo Botero García of the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS)

The conference is hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum, with support from over 55 partner organizations and 15 media partners.

The conference runs until Sept. 23. Topics include biocultural identities, circular bioeconomy, integrated landscape approaches, value chains, traditional knowledge, nature-based value chains, cross-sectoral land-use planning, governance and rights of local actors.

On Sept. 23, two former environment ministers Marina Silva (Brazil) and Manuel Vidal (Peru) will discuss Amazonian politics and how to usher in legislation that will boost sustainability and equitability of the biome’s nature and peoples.

Talks at the GLF Amazonia digital conference will also inform key global forums this year: Climate Week 2021 (20–26 September), the GLF Climate hybrid conference (5–7 November), and the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (1–12 November).

***To request interviews with speakers from the opening plenary, please email Thaís F​erreira Mattos, t.ferreira@cgiar.org***

INSTRUCTIONS FOR JOINING: register as press here. The conference is free for participants living in Latin America and the Caribbean and a small fee for those living in other regions of the world.



This digital conference has been made possible through the generous support of: Ford Foundation, BMU, BMZ, the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and FOLUR.

Organizations participating in the conference include but are not limited to: World Wildlife Fund WWF, Conservation International, Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI), Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA), Embrapa Eastern Amazon, The Forest Dialogue’s Amazon Forest Forum, Rainforest Alliance, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Universität Koblenz-Landau (Institute for Environmental Sciences – PRODIGY), Earth Innovation Institute and GLF, International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Amazônia Oriental), Pindorama Filmes, Instituto Catitu, Itaú Cultural, WaterBear, TAWNA, Laberinto Cine Y Televisión, Marfrig, Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, Climate Focus, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Alliance Bioversity International (CIAT), Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos), Amazon Conservation Association, MAP Initiative, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), Brazilian Coalition on Climate Forest and Agriculture, Green Gigaton Challenge (UN-REDD+, Emergent, EDF, Forest Trends, and the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions, Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, Brazilian Coalition on Climate Forest and Agriculture.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on integrated land use, dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. The Forum takes a holistic approach to create sustainable landscapes that are productive, prosperous, equitable and resilient and considers five cohesive themes of food and livelihoods, landscape restoration, rights, finance and measuring progress. It is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in collaboration with its co-founders UNEP and the World Bank and Charter members.

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