Amazon Council Is Bolsonaro’s Answer to Global Outcry

Flavia Said and Simone Iglesias

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil set up a council to monitor the country’s Amazon region following global outcry over President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies and his government’s handling of forest fires last year.

The body will be headed by Vice President Hamilton Mourao and will centralize efforts across ministries to protect the region and ensure its sustainable development, Bolsonaro wrote Tuesday on his Twitter account.

Mourao said he’s still analyzing the job ahead of his team and will soon issue guidelines for all the ministries involved in the Amazon. “The actions are many and we need to set our priorities,” he said by message in a response to questions from Bloomberg. He added that the job will be “immense.”

Bolsonaro's announcement comes as climate change takes on growing prominence at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Amazon Fires

Bolsonaro sparked international outcry when he downplayed raging forest fires in August and blamed nongovernmental organizations for starting them. His support for economic development of the Amazon, including a proposal to open up indigenous reserves to mining, has also drawn scorn from environmental activists.

Read More: Brazil Plans to Allow Mining in Amazonian Indigenous Reserves

The Brazilian government has clashed repeatedly with European leaders concerned about Bolsonaro’s stance toward the Amazon, with some European Union lawmakers threatening to block a trade deal with Mercosur, the South American customs union, over the issue.

(Updates with comment from Vice President Mourao)

To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Said in Brasilia at fsaid7@bloomberg.net;Simone Iglesias in Brasília at spiglesias@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Walter Brandimarte at wbrandimarte@bloomberg.net, Matthew Malinowski

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