Mato Grosso, COP23: ambitious commitments call for action

Mato Grosso, COP23: ambitious commitments call for action

Alice Thuault and Sérgio Guimarães


The COP 21 was a landmark for deforestation control in the Brazilian Amazon. For the state of Mato Grosso, where commodities such as soy or meat are still Challenging deforestation and environmental compliance, two agreements were particularly key:: the 2020 Zero Illegal Deforestation Commitment, signed between the Ministry of the Environment and the states of Acre and Mato Grosso and the launch of the Produce, Conserve and Include (PCI) strategy for a sustainable production, free from deforestation and with social inclusion.

The effective implementation of these commitments has a global relevance for climate change mitigation, since Brazil stands as the 7th largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) and Mato Grosso as the 2nd among the Brazilian states, with around 10% of all Brazilian national emissions in 2016. High emissions come mainly from agriculture and land use change, 67% from deforestation and from burning and 28% from agriculture (SEEG, 2017).

Despite the 2015 agreements, Mato Grosso’s socio-environmental situation has made little progress since then. On one hand, the PCI strategy had been sucessful in structuring itself, but on the other, lack of political priority has been unable to deliver deforestation reduction. Key tools such as traceability protocols of the Mato Grosso Meat Institute (IMAC) or public disclosure of environmental information to control productive activities have not been delivered. Slegal enforcement operations have been significantly reduced: until September 2017 only 17% of the 2016 embargoed area had been embargoed for environmental violations. Parallel to this, the wave of socioenvironmental setbacks in Brazil also impacted the forests of Mato Grosso: the 1,5 thousand km² of Serra de Ricardo Franco Park would have been transformed in private cattle ranching properties and the Guariba Roosevelt Extractive Reserve would have lost more than a thousand square kilometers of its territory if a strong mobilization of the State Attorney and civil society had not taken place.

As a result, deforestation continues at an alarming level, above 1,300 km² / year, figures that the governor himself described as unacceptable in Paris. Moreover, deforestation remains around 90% illegal and the characteristics of deforestation show a bet on illegality, with 47% of deforested areas within the Rural Environmental Registry and a 37% increase in deforestation polygons with more than 100 hectares.It means the deforestation is being done by capitalized landholders whose name and address are easily traceable, showing the illegality is still worth.

In this context, COP23 presents an tremendous opportunity window for Mato Grosso: on November 14th the state will sign a support agreement of 17 million euros with the German Bank, KFW, for deforestation reduction operations and direct technical assistance to family farming and indigenous peoples. The  announcement is very likely be followed by  others from the United Kingdom with equal or higher value and from private partnerships to leverage new resources.

In a national scenario of drastic reduction of public budgets, the KFW support is crucial. It  will give to Governor Pedro Taques and to Mato Grosso a second chance to do their homework and achieve a significant and definitive reduction of deforestation. It is urgent to take it.


¹Alice Thuault is Deputy Diretor at ICV, Sérgio Guimarães is President of ICV’s board