BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Supreme Court is set to demand that the government reactivate a billion-dollar international fund aimed at protecting the Amazon rainforest as the nation faces rampant deforestation, according to a court statement on Thursday.
A majority of the top court’s justices decided that the government must take steps within 60 days to reactivate the Amazon Fund, frozen in 2019 when the President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration decided to change its governance structure.
Norway paid $1.2 billion into the fund between 2008 and 2018, resources that were intended to finance sustainability projects and help reduce deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest. Germany also donated more than $68 million.
The fund was frozen after Bolsonaro took office in 2019 and weakened environmental protection measures in the Amazon, arguing that commercial farming and mining were needed in the region to reduce poverty. Deforestation has surged since then, driven by illegal logging and gold mining.
Seven of the judges on the 11-member court determined that changes made to the governance format of the fund were unconstitutional and they ruled that the previous model should be reinstated, according to a statement on the court’s website.
The case will continue to be heard on Nov. 3, when a final ruling is expected.
The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)