Brazil

Preservation of the rainforest through support to the Amazon Fund is a key element of Norwegian development cooperation with Brazil. In 2014, the Amazon Fund received a disbursement of NOK 780 million from Norway.

Facts about Brazil

Population
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Millions
Life expectancy
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Years
GNI pr capita
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USD
Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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%
HDI
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Ranking
Source:

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Norfund sold their shares in hydropower investments worth nearly NOK 180 million in Brazil in 2014. This is the reason why total aid to Brazil appears to be less than the Norwegian disbursements to the Amazon Fund.

In recent years, preservation of rainforests has been a key area for Norwegian development aid. In 2008, Norway promised Brazil an amount up to USD one billion by 2015 if the country could document a continued reduction of its deforestation.

The agreement with Brazil is part of the international efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (UN-REDD).

Major differences

Today, Brazil is the world's seventh largest economy. In 2014 the country saw its economy grow by a modest 0.1 per cent, and for 2015 the International Monetary Fund, IMF, expects a decline of one per cent. Deliberate redistribution policies and economic growth have helped approximately 30 million people emerge from poverty during recent years.

Major social differences remain in Brazil, and continued social and economic redistribution is necessary. However, the stagnation in the economy may have negative effects.

In 2014, Labour Party leader Dilma Rouseff was re-elected president after a very tough and exciting election campaign. 2014 was a year dominated by the election and the world soccer championship, as well as turbulence in political and economic life.

The widespread culture of corruption is attracting growing attention. Recent disclosures of corruption in Petrobras, Brazil's largest enterprise, have entailed major consequences for the economy. The value of Petrobras shares plummeted from approximately USD 50 in 2009 to around USD 10 in 2014.

Rights

Human rights are well embedded in the constitution as well as in other legislation, with regard to race, indigenous populations and gender. Brazil has established government institutions to safeguard the rights of various groups. A growing political resistance to implementation of indigenous peoples' rights has been observed. Delimitation of indigenous territories and regulation of consultation processes have come to a halt. A number of new proposals to relocate the authority for delimiting territories from the government to the Congress have been put forward.

The rights of indigenous peoples are especially precarious in a society where further economic development mainly depends on expansion of infrastructure and extraction of natural resources. The interest group for large landholders has enjoyed some successes in recent years.

Women's participation throughout economic and social life has been put on the agenda. There is a growing number of women in the formal labour market as well as in managerial positions. However, there is still a long way left to go.

Only five of 39 cabinet ministers in the present government are women, and three of these are junior ministers. In the Congress, only 10.6 per cent of the representatives are women.

Only two government ministers and 20.5 per cent of the Congress members come from the Afro-Brazilian population. Afro-Brazilians account for 52 per cent of Brazil's total population.

Corruption

Corruption is widespread. A number of large-scale corruption cases have come to light in recent years.

The trial related to the largest case of political corruption in Brazilian history, which included several politicians and key people in President Lula's first government, has now been concluded, and those sentenced are in prison. Despite certain flaws, this process is considered to be a major victory in a society where politicians tend to go scot-free.

Investigation and trials of a number of persons involved in the major corruption affair associated with Petrobras started in 2014. Much is still left to do before the entire process is complete. In addition to Petrobras employees, the case involves heads of large construction and manufacturing enterprises and 47 politicians (senators and delegates).

The fight against corruption is a recurrent topic in the demonstrations that take place regularly. In recent years, Brazil has enacted a number of new measures in the form of legislation, regulations and institutional capacity to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption. This includes new laws on bribery (2011), money laundering (2012) and anti-corruption (2013). The law on access to public information, adopted in 2012, has brought with it a measure of improved transparency regarding the use of public funds.

Brazil is also one of the initiators of the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral initiative whose tasks include ensuring specific commitments from governments to promote transparency and combat corruption.

Development cooperation with Brazil

Norway is engaged in comprehensive collaboration with Brazil in the fields of climate and the environment. The main area for this development cooperation is linked to the goal of supporting natural resources management, climate and environment, central to which is the partnership for preservation of the rainforest through support for the Amazon Fund.

Another prominent area is linked to the goal of supporting good governance and human rights. The Indigenous Peoples' Programme has been an important part of Norwegian development cooperation for the last 30 years, and a long-term and systematic effort has been undertaken with a view to reinforcing the political, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples through representation of Brazilian partners, including dialogue with society and governments at the local, regional and national level.

The Amazon

Rainforests previously covered approximately 13 per cent of the Earth's surface. Now, only half of them remain. In addition, much of this forest is in poor shape. Globally, rainforests corresponding to 40 per cent of Norway's land area disappear each year. The deforestation of the Amazon has been closely monitored by Norway over recent years, since the disbursements from the collaboration on forest preservation are linked to results.

Final figures from 2012 show that a total of 4 571 km2 were deforested in Brazil. This is equivalent to a reduction of 76.6 per cent compared to the average annual deforestation in the period 1996–2005. In 2013 deforestation increased by 29 per cent, but it was reduced by 18 per cent from 2013 to 2014. Brazil has committed itself to the goal of reducing deforestation by 80 per cent before 2020

The Amazon rainforest:

  • Extends over nine countries

  • Covers an area of nearly seven million square kilometres, more than 20 times the area of Norway

  • 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil

  • The country possesses 30 per cent of the Earth's remaining rainforests

  • The Brazilian part of the Amazon has a population of nearly 25 million

  • The Amazon is home to a large number of indigenous peoples' groups

The rainforest also contains large parts of the world's animal and plant diversity:

  • At least 40.000 plant species

  • 427 mammal species

  • 1300 bird species

  • 378 species of reptiles such as snakes and lizards

  • More than 400 different species of amphibians

  • Approximately 3000 different fish species

The Amazon Fund

In 2008, Brazil established the Amazon Fund as one of its mechanisms to help halt the raging deforestation. The fund is open to contributions from governments, private individuals and enterprises. Disbursements to the Amazon Fund are based on figures for deforestation in the Amazon.

The Amazon Fund is under the administration of the Brazilian Development Bank, BNDES. A board has been established consisting of representatives of the Amazon states, various ministries and civil society (environment, indigenous peoples, industry, rural workers etc.).

Donors play an unobtrusive role and mainly contribute at a general level, with a high degree of responsibility placed on the recipients. This means that Norway's role is restricted to determining annual grants and monitoring compliance with the donor agreement, as well as attending formal and informal meetings to seek to persuade the institutions of the recipient country to concentrate efforts and work as effectively as possible.

Indigenous peoples' rights

Norway has engaged in long-term efforts to reinforce indigenous peoples' rights, representation and dialogue with society and government at the local, regional and national level. The Indigenous Peoples' Programme has remained a key element in Norwegian development cooperation with Brazil for the last 30 years. In 2014, the programme received NOK 26.6 million in grants.

The support for indigenous peoples is human-rights based and linked to the goals for poverty alleviation, development of good governance and political and social inclusion, as well as environmental protection and sustainable use of resources.

Some activities undertaken and results achieved in 2014:

  • Norway has granted support to the Iepé organization, which has collaborated with the indigenous Waiãpi people to prepare a manual for consultation processes and presented it to the authorities. This is an attempt to establish premises for how consultations between the authorities and indigenous peoples can be undertaken and achieve progress in local and regional processes.

  • A number of indigenous organizations have increased their ability to mobilize their members. Both the Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro (FOIRN) and the Conselho Indígena de Roraima (CIR) have strengthened their small, local offices by way of simple infrastructure. This has enabled them to disseminate information and has increased their input and contributions to specific development projects and political issues.

  • The celebration of 30 years of Norwegian support to indigenous peoples continued. An outdoor photographic exhibition was set up in São Paulo, Belém and Manaus. More than 60 000 people visited the exhibition, which elucidated the struggles and victories of indigenous peoples over the last 30 years and provided information on the current situation.

  • This is also a priority for many of the embassy's partner organizations. Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), which has Brazil's largest online reference register of indigenous populations available in Portuguese, English and Spanish, has upgraded its website to more than 770 000 pages and receives more than five million hits each year.

  • The IPAM organization, a research institute that focuses on the Amazon region, completed its virtual platform, called Somai. This Internet solution collects information on the effects of climate change on indigenous territories. The platform forms the basis for a number of research projects and for disseminating information to the public. IPAM was granted support by the Norwegian Embassy in Brasilia to participate in the climate negotiations in Peru, where Somai was also presented.

  • Gender equality has generally been a difficult topic in the collaboration with indigenous peoples' organizations, which have tended to refer to cultural issues and traditions in this area. In 2014, the embassy reinforced its efforts for gender equality by signing an agreement with UN Women aiming to strengthen the participation of indigenous women in international forums. Partner organizations, such as CIR and the Instituto Catitu, expanded their activities that target women in particular. For example, the Instituto Catitu helped formulate a working plan to strengthen the embryonic organization of the Xingu women – Yamurikumã. This work plan will be implemented in 2015-2016.

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NGOs

Because of its large climate and forest programmes, Brazil is one of the largest recipients of Norwegian development assistance. Norad also grants support to a number of Brazilian organizations through Norwegian or international partnerships. In total, this support amounts to approximately NOK 60 million. The main recipients include the Rainforest Foundation, Brazil's IPAM and the Fundacion Solidaridad Latinoamericana.

The World Resources Institute's (WRI) Brazilian partner ICV has implemented a tool for analysis of governmental management of a forest fund in the states of Pará and Mato Grosso, where USD nine million had been misappropriated. As a result, a court of law ordered the funds to be returned to the states' environmental directorates, and a special commission was appointed to improve the transparency of the forest fund.

The Rainforest Foundation

The Rainforest Foundation is one of Norway's key partners in the field of indigenous rights in the Amazon. This organization bases its efforts on the rainforest dwellers' own interest in preserving the forest on which their lives depend.

Through training in rights, legal assistance, development of alternative livelihoods, education and forest monitoring, the organization gives support to local communities in their struggle to preserve the rainforest. Its Norwegian chapter cooperates with more than 70 environmental and human rights organizations in 11 rainforest countries.

Over the years, the efforts of the Rainforest Foundation in Brazil have helped:

  • Establish models for how people can benefit financially from the rainforest without destroying it.
  • Protect large, contiguous forest areas more effectively.
  • See to it that the rights of indigenous peoples and protection of the Amazon are taken seriously when proposals for new national legislation are submitted.
  • Raise awareness among indigenous peoples of their role as custodians of the forest, to help them continue to manage their territories in line with goals for sustainability and cultural values.
  • Reinforce indigenous peoples' organizations and their capacity to promote their rights.
  • Draw attention to the concerns of civil society in the implementation of the Amazon Fund and advocate for consideration of indigenous peoples on the part of financial institutions.
Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015