Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization - ACTO
The Amazon region, given its enormity and peculiarities, is a key
element in contemporary international debates, such as those related to sustainable development, climate change and the fight against hunger and poverty. With a population of approximately 38 million people, it represents 40% of the South American territory and is home to the largest diverse forest as well as to 20% of all species of fauna and flora in the world. The Amazon Basin contains about 20% of the fresh water on the planet surface.
The characteristics of the region pose challenges and opportunities that require coordinated and differential treatment – which is proposed by the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), a social-environmental bloc formed by the States that share the Amazon territory: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
The origins of the organization date back to 1978, when, at the initiative of Brazil, the eight Amazon countries signed in Brasilia the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT), with the objective of promoting harmonious development in the region and the well-being of their populations, and to strengthen the sovereignty of countries over their Amazon territories. Strengthening regional cooperation is the primary means to achieve these goals.
Twenty years later, in Caracas, the countries signed the Protocol of Amendment to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, creating the ACTO, an international organization with a permanent secretariat and its own budget, for optimizing the implementation of the Treaty purposes. In December 2002, in Brasilia, the Headquarters Agreement was signed between the Brazilian Government and ACTO, which established the Permanent Secretariat headquarters in Brasilia. It is worth noting that, to date, ACTO is the only multilateral international organization based in Brazil.
The Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs is the highest deliberative body of the Organization, responsible for establishing the basic guidelines for common policy, evaluating the initiatives undertaken and making the decisions necessary to achieve the proposed goals. The Amazon Cooperation Council (CCA), comprised of high-level diplomatic representatives from member countries, must ensure compliance with the Treaty objectives and the decisions adopted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The CCA is assisted by the Coordination Committee of the Amazon Cooperation Council (CCOOR), a solely advisory body.
At the national level, the Permanent National Commission on the Amazon Cooperation Treaty – composed of representatives from thirteen Ministries and chaired by Itamaraty – coordinates the activities related to the implementation of the Treaty provisions in Brazil.
In recent years, ACTO has experienced a relaunching and strengthening process. In this new phase, its activities are based on the guidelines of the New Amazonian Strategic Cooperation Agenda, adopted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member countries in 2010, reflecting their priorities, accordingly to the new social and political reality of the region.
As part of the strategy to streamline the organization, the countries decided to increase the value of their annual contributions, giving it greater capacity of financing its activities. In April 2013, Brazil announced the donation of a plot of land for the construction of the new ACTO headquarters, helping to ensure the Organization's financial autonomy.
Currently, more than 20 initiatives, projects and programs are being implemented, in areas such as environment, indigenous affairs, science and technology, health, tourism and social inclusion. Among them, it is worth noting the Forestry Cover Monitoring Project in the Amazon Region", running from mid-2011, in partnership with the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The objective of the Project is to contribute to regional development capability of monitoring the Amazon Forest through installation of observation rooms in member countries, capacity building and exchange of experiences in monitoring systems. The planned activities for the period 2013-2017 are financed by the Amazon Fund/ BNDES, worth R$ 23 million (Brazilian currency).