The newly formed Earth Alliance organisation, spearheaded by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, has pledged $5 million to help save the Amazon rainforest from the worst fires the region has experienced since 2013.

Created last month, the Earth Alliance organisation joins the convening power of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation with the reach and environmental expertise of Emerson Collective and Global Wildlife Conservation. Philanthropic public figures Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth act as Co-Chair’s of the new partnership.

Last week, Earth Alliance launched an emergency Amazon Forest Fund with an initial pledge of $5 million to focus critical resources on the key protections needed to maintain the forest, it’s biodiversity and indigenous communities.

Over the last couple of weeks the spread of wild fires in the Amazon rainforest has caused global alarm.  Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has used satellite data showing an 85% increase in the number of fires on the same period in 2018. Environmental organizations and policy makers are mobilizing to protect this precious natural resource which is often described as the ‘lungs of our planet’ due to the vast amounts of oxygen it release, and carbon dioxide it absorbs.

Earth Alliance is an organization led by an independent management team of scientists and conservationists, working to protect ecosystems and wildlife, ensure climate justice, support renewable energy and secure indigenous rights.

The funds will be distributed to local organizations: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida (Kayapo), Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu (Kayapo), Instituto Raoni (Kayapo) and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).

UNEP’s response to the fires

In a statement last week by Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), about the current environmental crisis facing the Amazon rainforest, she reiterated the global environmental importance of saving it, saying,

“We cannot afford more damage to this precious natural resource, which is home to 33 million people – including 420 indigenous communities -, 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species and more than 370 types of reptiles. The Amazon, alongside other major forests such as the Congo Basin and Indonesian rainforests, is a natural defense against global warming due to its ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

Ms Andersen made UNEP’s position clear as a platform ready to work with relevant stakeholders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019. At the event, Member States, UN colleagues, the private sector and civil society will have the opportunity to call for stronger protections for the Amazon rainforest and others forests around the world.

Addressing policy-makers in her statement, Ms Andersen urged, “Member States to come together and take necessary measures to extinguish the ongoing fires, to prevent further fires from being started and to protect the Amazon for the benefit of Brazil and the world.”

Picture: Fires burning in the Amazon rainforest in 2014. Source: ISS040-E-103496

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