Investors want ‘results’ on deforestation: Brazil VP

International investors want Brazil to show “results” in fighting Amazon deforestation before they will consider participating in environmental protection projects in the country, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said Thursday after speaking with the funds.

“At no time did investors commit with resources, they want to see results… to do with the reduction in deforestation,” Mourao, who heads the National Amazon Council, told reporters.

At the end of June, investment funds from Europe, Asia and South America that collectively administer close to $4 trillion in assets wrote an open letter to the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, urging the end of projects that threaten to accelerate the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.

And this week, 40 Brazilian and foreign businesspeople told Mourao they were concerned about the impact of Brazil’s environmental policies on the country’s image.

Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, has facilitated farming and mining projects on protected land and indigenous reserves.

Mourao said the government was the target of “unjust” criticisms.

“It’s not true that we’re destroying the jungle to produce food,” he said, also denying that Brazil was dismantling the state’s environmental protection structure.

Brazilian prosecutors have called for the dismissal of the environment minister, alleging he contributed to increased deforestation and fires in the Amazon by removing measures designed to protect the rainforest.

Recent data showed the Brazilian Amazon suffered its worst month of May for deforestation since records began in 2015.

Almost 3,000 square kilometers (1,150 square miles) of tropical rainforest were lost, some 20 percent more than in May 2019.

There’s also been a marked increase in forest fires, just as the dry season begins.

Mourao was joined in the meeting by the ministers of foreign relations, environment and agriculture and the Central Bank president.

The ministers announced that next week the government will publish a decree prohibiting for 120 days the use of fire for agricultural purposes in the rainforest.

“Protection and preservation won’t happen without development, they’re aspects that need to go together,” said Mourao.