Over the past seven years, the rate of Amazon deforestation has fallen by 75 per cent, a drop large enough to earn Brazil a US$1billion bounty from Norway as part of a 2008 deal.
‘Brazil’s achievements in reducing deforestation in the Amazon are truly impressive,’ says Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Tine Sundtoft. ‘The benefits for the global climate, for biodiversity and vital ecosystem services, as well as for the people living in and off the Amazon, are immeasurable. Through the Amazon Fund, Brazil has established what has become a model for other national climate change funds.’
The Amazon Fund is administered by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), the world’s second largest development bank. Norway is the largest contributor, which is paid through the Norway International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), a state pledge to spend up to three billion Norwegian kroner (£234million) per year ‘to help save tropical forests while improving the livelihoods of those who live off, in, and near the forests’. While Brazil has received the majority of the NICFI’s funds, worldwide distribution of funds totalled as much as US$3.3billion (NOK 19.8billion) as of 2014.
A 2014 evaluation of NICFI drew attention to the way in which the programme is succeeding despite difficult circumstances. ‘When NICFI was set up, it all happened as a political initiative,’ says Ida Hellmark, adviser for the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. ‘The evaluation shows that both the pre-initiative planning and the reporting during the implementation were inadequate. The outcome has clearly been positive, but much has been due to wide political support, large disbursements, greater flexibility and competent employees.’
This article was published in the November 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine.