I’m from northeast Brazil, the most vulnerable region to the impacts of the climate crisis. Last year at COP24 I started telling a story about how we needed to change the system to fight this crisis and today, with exclusivity, I bring a continuation.
This year Brazil has changed a lot: even more environmentalists were threatened, even more public environmental policies were dismantled and as if we were not already in a bad situation, the pressure of agribusiness in our forests has only increased: in indigenous lands, illegal deforestation increased by 74%, most of it happened in the state of Pará, setting the highest deforestation rate in the last 11 years.
In this scenario, the poorest people and vulnerable populations in Brazil are adapting as best they can in the way they have to fight the impacts of the climate crisis. This is a result of actions from big polluters and large enterprises that do not take into account listening to traditional populations. We no longer need to feed monoculture, mining and deforestation. Good forest is standing forest, and nature-based solutions can transform the economy of all nations.
It is past time for us to stop this situation. We live trapped in a development model that disregards the existence of those whose lives are marked by their lands. We live so attached and dependent on an old-fashioned development model that we are still stuck with fossil fuels because of the pressure from big corporations that a new chapter of our history has come.
In my city, in the last three months toxic oil that leaked no one knows where has devastated animal life, our water quality, biodiversity and more than 10,000 families of fishermen who live by the ocean. The oil has been cleaned from our beaches by volunteer work, there are still people doing it there every day. I was one of these volunteers. I had to stop work because I had an allergic reaction to exposure to the material: headaches and vomiting. Numerous young people were admitted to the emergency room with symptoms caused by exposure to the material. This was just in my state, 7 others are suffering with this. And the government? Well, the government only watched us doing their job.
We can no longer allow situations like these to keep happening. That is why we need to transition to a development model that takes into consideration the lives of the most vulnerable and, above all, that guarantees climate finance for projects with nature-based solutions. It’s time to make the big polluters pay, I’m sick of seeing big corporations wrecking our future and parties ignoring it at the COP. We are in this together, and we will not rest until we achieve climate justice.