AMAZON Cooperationn TREATY Pro Tempore Secretariat ACT: Objetives and Bodies¡tulo 230 Meetings of...

AMAZON Cooperationn TREATY

Pro Tempore Secretariat

The Amazon Cooperation treaty signed on July 3, 1978, between Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela has seen fruitful undertakings in the quest for attaining its prime objective, the promotion of conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon Basin.

This vast and resourceful territory known as the Amazon Region extends over seven million square kilometers, and is shared by variety of communities and harbors an abundance of natural resources. For this reason, the cooperation framework as defined in the treaty, has as beneficiaries, the countries party to the ACT, together with their institutions and operating and management organizations; and most of all, their inhabitants.

In order to portray a wide and useful vision of the commitments of the Pro Tempore Secretariat of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, which has been assumed by Venezuela as from March 1997, we are pleased to present this special edition of the Information Bulletin.

The Bulletin highlights some of the peculiarities of the Amazon Basin, and describes the specific goals and affairs of the ACT, the role and functions of the Amazon Cooperation Council and Pro Tempore Secretariat, as well as those of their special commissions on science and technology, the environment, indigenous affairs, health, transport, infrastructure and communications, tourism and education.

The future of the Amazon Region is still full of challenges to be met by action based on dialogue and exchange of information, the adoption of common technical cooperation policies, the use and conservation of natural resources and the execution of projects.

In the whole sense of the world, the ACT is an irreplaceable vehicle equipped with political and technical devices with enable it to debate and promote the rationalization of policies, the formulation of projects and adoption of common positions and proposals.


Ambassador Pro Tempore Secretary

ACT: Objetives and Bodies

The implementation of joint efforts and actions to promote the harmonious development of the Amazonian territories, in a way that permits environmental protection and the rational use of the natural resources from those territories, is one of the main objectives of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT). To this end governmental actions are oriented to exchange information and to celebrate agreements and operational arrangements, as well as the relevant legal instruments.

Other objectives of the Treaty include the promotion of the harmonious development of the Amazon Region, understood as the balance between economic growth and preservation of the environment, and at the same time improving the living conditions of the Amazon Region population.

The Treaty assigns special importance as well to actions aimed at the full incorporation of Amazonian territories to national economies, rational utilization of water resources, improvement of navigable waterways, and the importance of establishing the adequate physical infrastructure between Member Countries, especially in the areas of transportation and communications.

Improvement of the health conditions of the Amazonian population, as well as prevention and control of epidemics, close collaboration in scientific and technological areas, development of tourism without detriment to native cultures, sustainable use of natural resources, and conservation of regional ethnological and archeological resources are other goals that deserve special treatment.

The Treaty encompasses the following bodies:

• the meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs is the highest body. It establishes the basic common policy guidelines, supervises and evaluates the development of this cooperation process as a whole;

• the Amazon Cooperation Council is formed by high-level diplomatic representatives of the Contracting Parties. It is responsible for supervising compliance with the goals and provisions of the Treaty, and takes decisions on the performance of bilateral or multilateral studies and projects;

• the Permanent National Commissions of each Member Country are responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty in their respective territories, as well as of the decisions taken by the meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Amazon Cooperation Council;

• the Treaty's Secretariat is assigned, on a rotary basis, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of one of the Member Countries which is responsible for carring out the activities specified in the Treaty and for those determined by the meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Amazon Cooperation Council. It is also responsible for actions relating to both technical and financial cooperation at international level; and

• the Special Commissions of the Amazon Region, devoted to the study of specific problems or subjects, are formed by entities designated by Member Countries and are responsible for the coordination, follow- up and correct implementation of the approved programs and projects in their respective countries and for the submission of new proposals of common interest in order to assure compliance with the actions specified in the Treaty.

Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs

Pursuant to article XX of the Treaty, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Contracting Parties shall meet whenever deemed convenient or appropriate to establish basic common policy guidelines, consider and evaluate the general course of the Amazon cooperation process and take decisions for the achievement of the goals proposed therein. These meetings are held at the initiative of any of the Parties, supported by at least other four Member States.

Five meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Treaty were taken place at Belem do Pará, Brazil, on October 24, 1980; Cali, Colombia, on December 8, 1983; Quito, Ecuador, on March 7, 1989; Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on November 8, 1991; and Lima, Peru, on December 5, 1995.

Upon the signing of the Lima Declaration, at the close of the Fifth Meeting of Foreign Affairs held at the initiative of the Government of Peru, the Treaty entered a new promising consolidation phase: the decision to create a Permanent Secretariat and a new Special Commission of the Amazon Region on Education; to establish a financial mechanism and an institutional network for research and protection of genetic resources; and to negotiate an agreement on measures to prevent and control the contamination of water resources and its damaging effects.

These measures to prevent and control the contamination of water resources and its damaging effects. These measures have reshaped the institutional framework, and permit to foresee its prompt consolidation, also giving even more vitality, cohesion and continuity to this instrument, which has already acquired a profile and an identity internationally recognized.

The Amazon Cooperation Council

Pursuant to Article XXI, high-level diplomatic representatives from the Parties shall meet annually as members of the Amazon Cooperation Council.

The Council has the following responsibilities:

• to assure compliance with the objectives and goals of the Treaty;

• to assure compliance with the decisions taken by the meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs; to issue recommendations to the Parties on the convenience or timeliness to hold meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and to prepare their agendas;

• to consider the initiatives and projects submitted by the Parties and to take relevant decisions for the conduction of bilateral/multilateral studies and projects to be implemented, as appropriate, by the Permanent National Commissions; and

• to evaluate the performance of projects of bilateral/multilateral interest.

Formally, this mechanism may hold ordinary and special meetings, both of which must be convened by the Pro Tempore Secretary.

The delegations must be headed by a high-level diplomat from each Member Country and be composed by delegates, advisors, and other members accredited by the governments.

To this date, the Amazon Cooperation Council has met on seven occasions:

In Lima, Peru, in July 1983; in La Paz, Bolivia, in September 1986; in Brasilia, Brazil, in March 1988; in Bogota, Colombia, in May 1990; in Quito, Ecuador, in July 1993; in Lima, Peru, in October 1994; and again in Lima, Peru, in November 1995. The eighth meeting took place in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 6-8, 1997.

Special Commissions of the Amazon Region (CECTA)

Pursuant to Article XXIV of the Treaty, seven Special Commissions of the Amazon Region have been established for the study of problems and other matters of concern in the following fields: environment; science and technology; transportation, communications and infrastructure; health; indigenous affairs; tourism; and education.

These Special Commissions are formed by the competent national institutions within each sector, linked into an active sub-regional communications network. Special Commission on Science and Technology (CECTA)

CECTA was established during the Third Meeting of the Amazon Cooperation Council (Brasilia, March 1988).

Its purpose is to promote and supervise the performance of regional projects and other activities undertaken by ACT Member Countries in the fields of science and technology; to act as a mechanism for raising funds from international sources, and to coordinate the application of such funds in regional projects. CECTA has met on five occasions, the last two meetings being held in Lima in 1995 and Iquitos (Peru) in 1996.

The Special Commission on the Environment (CEMAA)

This Commission was established during the Third Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of ACT (Quito, March 1989) to carry through the common goals of environmental protection and rational use of the many and varied natural resources of the Amazon. The Commission has met on five occasions; its last two annual meetings were held in Lima in 1995 and in Santafe de Bogota in 1996.

The Special Commission on Indigenous Affairs (CEAIA)

CEAIA was established during the ACTís Third Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (March 1989) with the purpose of giving way to the national interest in indigenous affairs. This Special Commission has met four times; its last meeting was held in Lima in 1995.

The Special Commission on Health (CESAM)

The Amazonian countries decided in Article VIII of the Treaty to promote the coordination of health services in their Amazonian territories, and to take other adequate measures to improve health conditions in the region, as well as methods for preventing and controlling epidemics. CESAM was created in March 1988 as a sectorial coordinating body within the Health area during the Third Meeting of the Amazon Cooperation Council. CESAM has met on four occasions; its last meeting was held in Lima in June 1995.

Special Commission on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communications (CETICAM)

The Fourth Meeting of the Amazon Cooperation Council (Santafe de Bogota, May 1990) established the Special Commission of the Amazon Region on Transportation (CETRAM). Later, its mandate was expanded by the Fourth Meeting of Foreign Affairs of ACT held at Santa Cruz de la Sierra Bolivia, in November 1991, to cover communications and infrastructure, and its name was changed to Special Commission of the Amazon Region on Transpor-tation, Infrastructure and Communications (CETICAM).

Generally, the programs and projects of this Special Commission are designed to establish strategies for the enhancement of different modes of transportation; prepare general plans and projects on transportation along the Amazon River to develop trade and contribute to the regional prosperity; promote the establishment of a ground transportation system (by road and rail); and incentive regional air transport; facilitate telecommunications; carry out pre-feasibility and feasibility studies on major inter-oceanic corridors; and identify alternative intermodal connections between the basins of the Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata rivers.

The Special Commission on Tourism (CETURA)

CETURA was created during the Fourth Meeting of the Amazon Cooperation Council (Bogota, May 1990) with the objective of establishing the appropiate cooperation mechanisms for planning and development of the necessary infrastructure for the Amazon Basin region. This Commission has met on three occasions; it held its third annual meeting in Lima, in June 1995.

Special Commission on Education (CEEDA)

Two decisions concerning education were taken at the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty: the Special Commission of the Amazon Region on Education (CEEDA) was created as a mechanism to evaluate experiences and coordinate the outline of educational plans adapted to Amazonian reality, and to promote the training and formation of human resources in the Amazon Region, as well as respect for the cultural identity of its peoples; it was also resolved to design a common program to promote environmental education and awareness at school level. This Special Commission was assigned to organize a regional seminar to propose the guidelines, contents and scope of manuals for such a purpose.

The First Ordinary Annual Meeting of this Special Commission, as well as the Regional Seminar on the Preparation of Manuals on the Common Program on Promotion of Environmental Education and Awareness at School-level, will take place in 1997, in accordance with the schedule of pending activities.

The Amazon basin

• The Amazon region is known as the largest wet tropical forest. Its flora and fauna, including numerous plants and animals still unknown to science, make up more than 50 % of the global biota. It is estimated that over 56% of the tropical forests of planet Earth are found in the Amazon Basin.

• The Amazon River, which runs through 6762 km2 from its source in the snow-capped mountain of Mismi, in the department of Arequipa (Southern Peru), is also the longest, largest, widest, and deepest river, and drains the largest basin in the world.

• The Amazon River discharges into the Atlantic Ocean between 200 000 cm3 and 220 000 cm3 of water per second, between 6,3-6,9 billion cm per year, representing 15,47% of all fresh water in the world. It also discharges approximately 1 billion metric tons of sediments per year.

• In the Obidos Strait (Brazil), the Amazon reaches an approximate depth of 300 m, permitting access by large-draft vessels to Iquitos more than 2300km upriver.

• The slope is very uneven in the upper basin, where it varies approximately 5000 m along a straight course of 50 km. In the mid-lower stretch the gradient is less steep: from Iquitos (Peru) to its mouth the Amazon flows through 2375 km with a gradient of only 4,5cm per kilometer.

• The width of the Amazon varies. During the rainy season, in some stretches the waters of the Amazon flood 20-50 km on both margins. On its riverbed there are numerous islets that divide the river up into an intricate labyrinth of canals.

• The river bed extends over nearly 7 165 281 km2. It accounts for 1,40% of the total surface of the earth, 4,82% of the continental surface, and 40,18% of South America.

• The Amazon Basin has very heterogeneous geographical and ecological characteristics, comprising territories located between 6000 masl (the Andes Mountains) and sea level. The lower basin is an immense biome of forests and waters. It is estimated that nearly 30% of this region is formed by water and wet areas: rivers of diverse characteristics, lagoons, ponds, swamps, marshes and flood-prone areas.

• The Amazon is not an empty territory, although throughout most of the region the population density is low and nearly 60% of it is urban. At present, in the lower areas there are approximately 22 million inhabitants assembled in native villages, modern forest populations engaged in extraction activities, and other populations, such as camps of gold-hunters or "garimpeiros" urban centers, settlements, etc. The Amazon population grows at an annual rate of 3%. There are nearly 379 ethnic groups, with a millennial tradition of adaptation to the heterogeneous conditions of the region and depositories of an incalculable wealth of knowledge and technologies.

Pro Tempore Secretariat of ACT

The Pro Tempore Secretariat is responsible for carrying out the activities determined by the Treaty, the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Amazon Cooperation Council. It acts as a catalyst and promoter of efforts throughout the region, dynamizing the exchange of experiences, spreading scientific or technical information, and encouraging the formulation and implementation of regional projects.

To this end, the Secretariat formulates and receives proposals; organizes and convenes seminars and workshops on specific topics; edits dissemination bulletins and other publications; prepares projects to enhance knowledge about the region; promotes sustainable development in the Amazon; favors the conservation of biological diversity, and supports training for local populations.

The rules of the Secretariat define its duties and responsibilities, namely:

• to supervise compliance with the goals and objectives of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty;

• to comply and supervise compliance with the resolutions adopted by the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Amazon Cooperation Council;

• to coordinate with the competent authorities and bodies of the Amazonian countries details for the holding of meetings of formal and technical Treaty bodies, to disseminate their results, and to follow-up on the decisions taken thereby;

• to prepare, compile and store the official correspondence of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty to be transferred by the time of the corresponding rotation;

• to keep the Treaty's Permanent National Commissions duly informed of the progresses made by the various Special Commissions and the meetings and other activities of the Amazon cooperation process. The official communications between the Secretariat and the Parties on the convening of technical meetings or meetings of the Special Commissions regarding substantive aspects of programs, projects and international cooperation are transmitted by diplomatic channels. The Pro Tempore Secretariat takes care that the Special Commissions observe the same procedure;

• it is charged, in accordance with the mandates of the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Council and the Special Commissions, with the tasks of management, promotion, preparation of documents required for the financial negotiations, follow-up, and all that refers to the achievement of resources for the financing of programs and projects, as well as with the timely and efficient implementation and start-up of said programs and projects.

The projects, which may arise from initiatives of the Special Commissions or the Pro Tempore Secretariat, are submitted for consideration of all Parties, and their implementation is subject to prior and express approval of each of the concerned Parties; The non concerned Parties may present observations within a maximum term of 60 days.

• to apply for, arrange and submit proposals on technical, scientific and financial cooperation for the approval of Member Countries;

• to follow-up and make a general evaluation of on-going programs and projects, and take appropriate measures for their timely and efficient implementation;

• to protect and update all documents concerning progresses made in implementation of the Treaty, bilateral agreements on Amazonian cooperation, and related instruments;

• to disseminate continuous information on the cooperation process, for the purpose of attracting positive attention from international organizations, third countries and public and private organizations;

• to prepare, in coordination with the ad hoc Consultative Committee and regional coordinating bodies of the special commissions, an annual workplan including proposals for operational research plans and the implementation of specific programs and projects. The Secretariat must submit annually to the approval of the Parties the schedule of the Special Commissions, and strive to hold meetings of all Commissions prior to the Meeting of the Council in order that the latter may perform an adequate follow-up of their activities;

™B7 to submit detailed reports bi-annually and at the end of its period of office;

• to coordinate the activities of the Special Commissions of the Amazon Region with the respective Executive Secretariats;

• to convene, at the request of any of the Member Countries, the necessary technical meetings in order to coordinate the actions of the various bilateral and multilateral mechanisms of the Treaty, and to deliver to the Amazon Cooperation Council reports on the achieved results, for the purpose of facilitating the evaluation of the Amazon cooperation process; and

• other duties and responsibilities that may be assigned to the Secretariat by the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Amazon Cooperation Council.

The duties of the Pro Tempore Secretariat are performed on a rotary basis by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Member Countries to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty.

The respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs designates a high-level diplomatic officer to act as Pro Tempore Secretariat, supported by a team of diplomatic officers devoted full-time to this task.

Since the Treaty was signed, the duties of the Secretariat have been performed by the following countries: Peru, from October 1980 to July 1983; Bolivia, from July 1983 to September 1986; Brazil, from September 1986 to March 1988; Colombia, from March 1988 to May 1990; Ecuador, from May 1990 to January 1994; Peru, from February 1994 to March 1997; and Venezuela since March 1997. Pro Tempore Secretariat is assisted by the ad hoc Consultative Committee, composed of the ambassadors of the governments of the Parties accredited before the country in charge of the Secretariat. It is the duty of the Secretariat to exchange information and coordinate the actions relating to the Amazon cooperation process with this Committee.

Specialists in each specific area of concern of the Special Commissions work at the Secretariat's headquarters and act as regional coordinators.

It is their responsibility to promote regional projects; to implement actions that facilitate the process of exchange of information; to prepare technical documents; to update regional data banks; and to establish the necessary contacts for wider participation of institutions and experts at seminars, workshops and meetings.

In recent years, the Secretariat has promoted a vigorous institutional mobilization of entities and sectors responsible for the policies and actions of the Member Countries in the Amazon Region, reflected in a substantial growth of participation in the cooperation process that has benefited the Treaty.


The Workplan of the Secretariat, approved by the Foreign Ministers at their Fifth Meeting, contains programs, projects and activities oriented at and designed for achieving the goals of the Treaty, especially with reference to improving the quality of life of the population.

In accordance with the policy guidelines issued by the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Amazon Cooperation Council, the Workplan points at the adoption and application by the Member Countries of policies and strategies for sustainable development based on previously identified and common needs, prospects, and priorities.

In the political and institutional areas, the Workplan aims, among other things, to achieve the following:

• to contribute to the reinforcement of the Treatyís institutional basis in each Member Country, supporting the action of the Permanent National Commissions;

• to adopt clear mechanisms for the management of the Secretariat, so as to permit a fluid exchange and communication with the Parties and to ensure due performance of its duties;

• to strengthen the work of the Special Commi-ssions of the Amazon Region;

• to foster the exchange of views between Member Countries for the adoption of common positions at various international fora on matters relating to the Treaty, and to achieve closer relations with different sub-regional bodies and mechanisms for the treatment of matters of common interest;

• to promote the adoption of agreements on specific subjects for the preservation of the environment; and

• to promote coordination between the political-diplomatic bodies of the Treaty through the Special Commissions of the Amazon Region in the process of project ellaboration.

In the technical area:

• to strive for the joint preparation of projects with a regional focus;

• to establish criteria for the identification and selection of projects, as well as follow-up mechanisms; and

• to evaluate the potentials and limitations of previously identified projects, and to determine their priority level in terms of the common needs of Member Countries.

Programs, projects and technical activities are carried out through the Special Commissions and Permanent National Commissions. The Pro Tempore Secretariat is in charge of the follow-up and general evaluation of on-going programs and projects and takes the necessary actions for their prompt and efficient implementation.

Eight programs have been identified within the scope of the Special Commissions, and each Member Country has been assigned regional cooperation responsibilities. In the specific case of the programs of CEAIA, there are only 7; the programs of CETURA are coordinated region-wide by the Secretariat. Those programs are classified according to topics and comprise related projects and activities.

With regard to the scope of the projects, the aim is to encourage the use of human resources and infrastructure existing in each country, and to implement projects of wide scope and high cost in stages to facilitate financing of same. Another aim is to combine activities with training and educational components, dissemination of information, experiences, research and studies.

Many of these activities are developed with funds from non-reimbursable international cooperation. Member Countries have yet to make regular contributions of their assigned regular quotas, although they do contribute with human and financial resources for the implementation of national activities; each government acting as seat of the Pro Tempore Secretariat assigns funds for the installation and operation of the Secretariat.

The international cooperation provided by organizations and governments allows the Treaty to carry out projects, especially in relation with the identification of potentials and natural resources management. It also supports the activities of the Pro Tempore Secretariat and the Special Commissions, permitting the exchange of experiences and holding of meetings, and translation in many cases of various national initiatives into regional projects.

This process has activated and stimulated the work of governmental institutions and sectors that make up the Permanent National Commissions of ACT and facilitates smooth and mutual inter-institutional relations between the Parties.

Various international organizations have been providing support for the Treaty in the form of non- reimbursable multilateral assistance, namely: the European Union, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with funds from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) with funds from the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), among others. The Governments of Finland and Canada have recently joined this flow of cooperation.

The Pro Tempore Secretariat has established similar links with prominent institutions through the signing of the Memoranda of Understanding with the United Nations Environmental Program, the Association of Amazonian Universities (UNAMAZ), and the World Resources Institute (WRI), among others.

Principal on-going programs and projetcs


The Regional Strategies for Sustainable Conser-vation and Management of Natural Resources Project in the Amazon comprises three projects: Ecological Zoning and Geographic Monitoring of the Amazon; Training in Sustainable Uses of Amazonian Biodiversity; and Natural Resources Management in Native Amazonian Territories. Their implementation is financed by UNDP-GEF, with a view to contribute to the ordering of the territory as well as to the study, formulation of strategies and valuation of the Amazonian biodiversity.

The Program on Ecological Zoning and Geographic Monitoring of the Amazon, funded by IDB, covers two sub-programs: Technical Assistance for the Permanent National Commissions of the Amazon Cooperation Council and Assistance for the Harmonization of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This last sub- program complements the Zoning project, which began with funds furnished by UNDP, aimed at harmonizing the methodological proposals of the aforementioned projects.

The projects on Ecological Zoning and Geographical Monitoring of the Amazon aim to have the Member Countries to ACT adopt and apply Ecological-Economic Zoning principles in the formulation of policies and strategies for ordering their territories, as basic tools and decision-making criteria, to contribute thus to the sustainable development of the Amazon Region, the strengthening of national zoning institutions, and the identification of alternatives for harmonizing the hardware and software installed in the ACT Member Countries to make their national geographical information systems mutually complementary.

The Regional Project on Planning and Management of Protected Areas in the Amazon Region is financed by the European Union and its purpose is to ensure the conservation of natural and cultural biodiversity by consolidating selected pilot areas and demonstration centers and establishing protected areas in the Amazon.

This project also foresees, among other activities, the design of management plans for Ecotourism. It is important to highlight, in this regard, that given the successful results obtained thus far in implementation of this project, the Parties have agreed to carry out the second stage of same.

The following projects and research activities are being carried out with funds provided by FAO: Food Security, Nutrition and Natural Resources of the Amazon; Biodiversity and Food in the Amazon; Recovery of Native Foods; A Nutritional Alternative; Propagation of Promising Plant and Vegetable Species in the Amazon Region; Small Agro-Business as a Factor of Sustainable Develop-ment in the Amazon Region; Sustainable Use and Conservation of Wild Fauna in the Countries of the Amazon Basin; Pilot Project on Management of Podocnemis expansa; Forests, Trees and Rural Communities; Identification of Criteria and Indicators of Sustainability for the Amazon Forest, etc.

Finally, technical assistance from UNIDO is being used to carry out the project "Strategy for Environmental Quality Management in Three Member States of ACT: Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru", aimed at laying down policies for incorporating environmental and industrial factors into developmental actions undertaken in the Amazon Region.


In accordance with the Treaty provisions on the convenience of creating an adequate physical infrastructure between Member Countries, specially in the areas of transportation and communications, Member Countries are developing the project "Transportation Network for the Amazon Region", as a basic planning tool and physical space for the implementation of regional transportation policies, environmentally compatible with the goals of sustainable development for the Amazon Region, and as a general framework for the development of various projects stemming from the integration needs of the Amazon Region.

The first stage of this Project foresees the formulation of a proposal on an Intermodal International Transportation Network for the Amazon Region, supportive of and environmentally compatible with the goals on sustainable development advanced for the region, and contributing to:

  • the integration efforts of the Member Parties, promoted through actions performed within the frame of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty;
  • the full incorporation of their Amazonian territories into the scope of activities of their respective national economies; and
  • the generation of a physical infrastructure compatible with the aspirations of the inhabitants of the Amazon Region and the access needs of isolated population centers.
  • This first stage of this project has been funded by the European Union and implemented by the Grupo Executivo de Planejamento de Transportes (GEIPOT). The studies for the formulation of this proposal have been completed, and the working draft was approved by the representatives of the Member Countries during a technical workshop organized by the Pro Tempore Secretariat and held in Caracas from December 3-6, 1996. The Fourth Ordinary Meeting of CETICAM to be held also in Caracas, probably during the first quarter of this year, should approve this proposal.


    Funds provided by the World Bank's Economic Development Institute (EDI), the Government of the Netherlands, FAO and UNDP are being used to carry out the project Dissemination of Sustainable Technologies for the Use of Amazonian Biodiversityî, and to publish important and widely disseminated technical documents within the frame of this project, such as: Diagnostico de los recursos hidrobiológicos de la Amazonia; Experiencias agroforestales exitosas en la Amazonia; Recursos fitogenéticos de cultivos alimenticios y frutales amazónicos; Plantas medicinales de la Amazonia: Realidad y perspectivas; Biodiversidad y salud en las poblaciones indígenas de la Amazonia; Uso y conservación de la fauna silvestre en la Amazonia; Patentes, propiedad intelectual y biodiversidad amazónica; and cultivo del pijuayo para palmito en la Amazonia.

    The document "Frutas y hortalizas promisorias de la Amazonia" was recently published with technical and financial support from FAO. This work describes 52 plant species, and constitutes a valuable contribution for the study and knowledge of a series of plant products with economic and social potential by public and private institutions, researchers, technicians and others interested in the Amazon Region and its incorporation to the local, national and regional economies.


    The project entitled Regional Program for the Consolidation of Native Territories through the Amazon Cooperation Treaty was implemented with technical and financial support from the European Union, with the general aim of assisting certain Amazonian native communities of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru in the process of surveillance and legalization of the lands inhabited by them, and establishing conditions that may permit those communities to manage, preserve and make rational use of the natural resources stored therein. A regional diagnosis was prepared under this project, and guidelines were issued on native lands, embodied in the recent publication of the Secretariat entitled "Tierras y aguas indígenas de la Amazonia: Una experiencia regional".

    The Parties to the Treaty commissioned the Secretariat, at the Fourth Ordinary Meeting of CEAIA held in Lima in May 1995, to formulate a new regional project for promoting regional support for processes of recognition and protection of indigenous lands and waters in the Amazon, and for the sustainable management of biological resources. In this context, the Secretariat, in coordination with the national entities responsible for indigenous affairs in each of the Member Countries, identified the respective national proposals and prepared a basic proposal for a regional project entitled Regional Program for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Indigenous Areas of the Amazon, which was submitted to the Parties for consideration.


    Considering that efforts for the systematization of information on indigenous Amazonian populations within the frame of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty are still incipient, the Pro Tempore Secretariat through the Coordination of the Special Commission of the Amazon Region on Indigenous Affairs (CEAIA) proposed at the Fourth Ordinary Meeting of CEAIA to include the subject of indigenous affairs within the system of SIAMAZ and not to establish a separate information sub-system. Based on this perspective, scattered public information is being collected and will shortly be presented in CD-ROM format.

    The process of formulation and consultation of the regional health promotion among Amazonian Populations is being completed, involving financial aid from the European Union. The main objective of this project is to reinforce community health services in the Amazon Region through the development of a regional program of training, technical assistance and exchange of national experiences in health promotion in the Amazon.

    The specific goals of this project should lead to the establishment of a pilot regional health program designed to strengthen and foster cooperation in the area of health, and to raise the levels of capacity and management of health personnel, among other objectives.


    During the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Secretariat was commissioned to formulate, in consultation with the Parties, the Master Development Plan on Tourism and Ecotourism for the Amazon Region, as an instrument for promoting regional development and investments in tourism in the Amazon, with the support and active participation of public and private sectors engaged in tourism, environmental and indigenous affairs of the Member Countries.

    This Plan is being formulated on the basis of the Regional Project Development of Ecotourism in the Amazon Region) designed during the Third Ordinary Meeting of CETURA held in Lima in June 1995, and the Regional Workshop that preceded it. The objective of this new proposal is to cover not only ecotourism, but also sustainable tourism as an activity that engulfs ecotourism.

    Both the Master Plan and the regional project shall be examined by the authorized representatives of the Member Countries on occasion of the Fourth Meeting of CETURA to be held during the first semester of this year in the city of Manaos.


    The activities to be carried out by this Special Commissions are the holding of its First Ordinary Meeting and the preparation, in accordance with the commission received from the Fifth Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers, of a common program for the promotion of environmental education and awareness at school level, and, to this end, the organization and convening of a regional seminar to propose the main guidelines, contents and scope of manuals.

    Scheduled activities

    The Workplan of the Pro Tempore Secretariat includes, among other things, development of the following activities:

    • to design plans and strategies for soil conservation and improvement in the region, adequate soil use and management, and promotion of new productive activities based on native species of flora, fauna and micro-organisms;

    • to implement a program for environmental education and awareness at school level, to begin with the design of manuals for this purpose.

    • to negotiate a basic agreement on actions to prevent and control the contamination of shared water resources and its negative impact on human health, the habitat and biological diversity as a whole.

    The future negotiations of the Amazonian countries shall take into consideration the unique characteristics of the region. For this purpose, it may be necessary to evaluate the methods applied in other river basins, as in the basins of the Mekong, Senegal, La Plata and Rhine rivers. It will also be important to have available updated studies on the problem of contamination levels in the Amazon basin.

    • To analyze and adopt systems for the registration of Amazonian genetic resources, and rules on protection of intellectual property and similar rules on protection of traditional knowledge, as well as on access to and intellectual property of Amazonian biogenetic resources.

    • To implement an institutional network for the protection of and research on genetic resources.

    • To follow a systematic approach to establish common rules in the Member Countries on the sustainable use of the Amazon forest, and, in this connection, to support the initiatives of the Member Countries to implement the so-called "Tarapoto Process" on Sustainability Criteria and Indicators for the Amazon Forest. To this end, the Secretariat has been able to raise funds from international cooperation and to sponsor the holding of national evaluation workshops, one already held in Colombia, and others to be held in late January in Peru and Ecuador.

    Likewise, the following actions are underway to expand regional cooperation:

    to complete the process of formulation and consultation of the following projects: Sustainable Use and Conservation of Wild Fauna in the Countries of the Amazon Basin; Regional Program for Development and Promotion of Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism in the Amazon Region through Local Communities, and begin the design of the second stage of the Regional Project Planning and Management of Protected Areas in the Amazon Region;

    • to continue the work of defining the scope of transportation programs under the Special Commission of the Amazon Region on Transportation, Communications and Infrastruc-ture (CETICAM) and of the following projects: Strategies to Promote Priority Transportation Corridors in the Amazon and Phased Implemen-tation Strategies; Telecommunications Network for the Amazon Region; and The Amazon Basin and Feasibility of its Interconnection with the Orinoco and La Plata River Basins;

    • to pursue the task of defining the scope of and formulating proposals for the following projects identified by the meetings of the Special Commissions, workshops and other technical meetings: Consolidation, Management and Use of Natural Resources in Native Areas in the Amazon; Integral Production Systems for Agricultural Development in the Amazon; Survey of Palm Trees of the Amazon Region with Economic and Social Potential; Pilot Experience in the Management of Wild Fauna in the Countries of the Amazon Basin; Regional Management Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Black Cayman; Recovering the Productivity of Soils Damaged by Agriculture and Livestock Production through the Use of Terracing and Intensive Agroforest and Jungle Grazing Systems; Reference Plan for Standardization of Epidemiological Control Systems in the Countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty; Prevention of Damages caused by Mercury Contamination.


    For its dissemination activities on topics relating to development indexes in the Amazon Region, the wealth of biological diversity and natural resources, the inventory of projects under the Treaty, legislation in force, bibliography, publications, studies and other data on the environment, health, science and technology, transportation, communications, indigenous affairs, tourism and education in the Amazon, as well as research centers in and for the region, the Secretariat has used the following means to carry out this task efficiently:

    Preparation of the trilingual quarterly Information Bulletin and its distribution to governmental entities of Member Countries, academic and research institutions interested in the Amazon, regional or state governments, members of National Congresses or Parliaments, cooperating governments and agencies, NGOs, the media, private enterprises interested in the development of the Amazon, and participants of workshops and seminars organized or sponsored by the Pro Tempore Secretariat of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty.

    Likewise, a WEB page has been placed at the service of interested governments, researchers and organizations within INTERNET. Through this service, the Secretariat provides the information contained in the ten Information Bulletins published so far. There are plans to expand this service, which will soon present its most important publications. It has also begun the task of compiling all the publications issued to present by the Secretariat in CD-ROM format.

    Finally, a significant number of publications has been issued by the Secretariat. There is a prior mechanism of coordination and consultation of all publications in which all Member Countries participate, which allows adequate time to the Parties to comment on the contents of the proposed publications.


    It may be affirmed today that the Treaty has a joint work program that involves the participation of increasingly more and diverse institutions from each of the eight Member Countries in specific areas.

    The Secretariat has striven to define paths, to reinforce consultations, to expand institutional participation and to present the Treaty as an effective instrument for channeling regional initiatives of behalf of knowledge and the sustainable development of the Amazon Basin. To a certain extent, some of these goals have been attained.

    The periodic holding of meetings of the Treaty mechanisms has facilitated the adoption of decisions that support, reinforce and expand the scope of common action. All of them have or will have concrete effects on the sustainable economic yield of Amazonian resources, improvement of the living standards of the population, reinforcement of the institutional network or on the political dialogue at the governmental level.

    The governments signatories of the Treaty, in accordance with the political decisions taken at the Fifth Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers, will shortly install a Permanent Executive Secretariat of the Treaty in Brasilia. An ad hoc Working Group was established to that end, and convened on various occasions to meet both in Brasilia and in Lima to prepare a proposal that will be duly considered by the competent bodies. The change of status of the Secretariat entails a modification in the text of the same Treaty.

    There is a long road ahead for achieving full compliance with the Treaty goals. The political will demonstrated by the Parties shows that it is fully possible to conceal interests and opinions for carrying into effect development plans compatible with sustainability criteria advanced in 1978 and internationally sanctioned by the Rio Summit on Sustainable Development in 1992.

    However, there still are huge and important challenges ahead. The future of the Amazon Region, a subject on which certain differences persist, must be gradually approached while the experience of horizontal cooperation continues to be consolidated. The results of this process, based on dialogue and exchange of information, should have a favorable impact on the adoption of common policies regarding technical cooperation, the use and conservation of natural resources and implementation of projects. Gradually, the result should be the uniformization of criteria and concepts, to arrive at a system of physical data acceptable to all for understanding the complex character of biological diversity as a transborder phenomenon.

    This process will be strengthened when, as a result of the evaluation of the projects and actions that are implemented, the accumulated experiences are systematized, common operational criteria for the projects are defined; sustainable development models adapted to the unique characteristics of the Amazon are applied; and sustainable development policies and their national, regional and international inter-relations are analyzed and updated.