Brazil, 2017. Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

Brazil, 2017. Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

“The Amazon, the green heart of the Earth, is mourning and the life it sustains is withering,” begins a statement released by the World Council of Churches Executive Committee as it met in Amman, Jordan from 17-23 November.

“Although annual forest loss began to slow since 2004, over the last two years, many of the achievements have been reversed,” reads the statement. “Defenders of the Amazon are encountering increasing intimidation and violence, with Brazil recording the highest number of killings of environmental protectors - 49 women and men - many of them Indigenous leaders, in 2016.”

The government is now reversing previous protections, the statement noted. “Most significantly, on 23 August 2017, President Michel Temer of Brazil abolished by decree a vast national reserve protected since 1984, opening it to commercial mining activities,” the text reads. “The area, a delicate ecosystem covering 46,000 square kilometers, straddles the northern states of Amapa and Para and borders Indigenous territories.”

WCC member churches in Brazil believe that if the decree is enacted, it will further undermine the rights and livelihood of Indigenous Peoples, accelerate deforestation, undermine water resources, hasten the loss of biodiversity and precipitate further land conflicts.

Read full statement on the Amazon under threat

WCC Executive Committee emphasize peace, justice and unity (WCC press release of 19 November 2017)

WCC Executive Committee to convene in Amman (WCC press release 16 November, 2017)