On 29 March 2021, the engagement of nearly 100 Catholic institutions, led by the Bank for Church and Caritas (BKC), with high-level Brazilian decision-makers to protect the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous and traditional populations living there, was launched. Although the situation in Brazil regarding rainforest deforestation and the protection of indigenous rights is still not perfect, we can state that our set engagement demands in the fight against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the disenfranchisement of the indigenous population living there as well as in the fight against illegal gold mining have been almost completely fulfilled. Furthermore, despite the problems and complexities that still exist in the protection of the Amazon rainforest, we see positive signals for changes in favour of people and the environment. For example, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has decreased by more than 40 percent since President Lula da Silva took office until June 2023, compared to the same period last year.
The results report, which has now been published, provides detailed documentation, an evaluation of the achievement of objectives and a measurement of the sustainability impact of the world's first Catholic investor engagement of this magnitude. The results report is not only intended to create transparency about the engagement, but also to promote awareness for the protection of the rainforest and indigenous rights.
On 21 September, a key demand of our engagement with Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest and indigenous rights was realised: The halt of promotion and implementation of the "Marco Temporal Thesis". The Marco Temporal Thesis is a legal approach according to which only land that was physically inhabited by indigenous groups at the time of the adoption of the Brazilian Constitution on 5 October 1988 can be demarcated as indigenous land. This thus excludes land from which indigenous groups were previously forcibly evicted. In a precedent-setting case involving the indigenous Xokleng people, who were victims of one of the most brutal land evictions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Supreme Court in Brazil has now ruled that the Marco Temporal thesis cannot be applied. The ruling is expected to have far-reaching consequences for indigenous peoples' land rights and will apply to hundreds of similar indigenous land claims.
In our engagement, we have from the beginning advocated intensively for the abolition of the Marco Temporal thesis and have always made this a topic of our discussions with brasilian decision-makers. Most recently, we raised this issue in mid-September at a personal reception with the Brazilian ambassador in Berlin. Already in July, we had a first exchange with the Brazilian embassy in Berlin, where we presented our engagement and the demands for the protection of the Amazon rainforest and indigenous rights. We were asked by the Brazilian Embassy to provide input from an investor perspective in the run-up to their planned series of events called "Amazon Week".
Our main engagement demand to the Brazilian Central Bank has been met!
On 31 July, it announced via the Official Gazette that, among others, the precious metal dealers (DTVMs) they authorise will be prohibited from accepting the origin of gold on the "principle of good faith" as of August. With this move, the central bank follows the ruling of the Brazilian Supreme Court in April, which suspended the previously applied procedure as unconstitutional. According to experts, the abolition of the "principle of good faith" in the gold trade, which until now has allowed gold buyers to purchase gold without further proof of origin and thus bring it into the market cycle, is a key moment in the fight against illegal gold mining in the Amazon. This and the obligation to use electronic invoices for the purchase of gold adopted by the Brazilian tax authority in March form the basis for control in the gold trade in Brazil.
The last weeks of our engagement were marked by an intensive exchange with various non-governmental organisations in Brazil and Europe. The focus was on the concrete demands to be made on the Good Delivery Standard of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) as well as on international companies and financial actors in order to reduce the risk of illegal gold in international supply chains and the financial cycle. We also had exchanges with the German Embassy in Brazil and the office of the EU Parliamentarian who was instrumental in introducing the EU Deforestation Bill to present our engagement on illicit gold in the supply chain of German and European companies and the associated economic risks for these companies. We are also in discussion with the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin, where we reported on our engagement and were asked to provide input in the course of the "Amazon Week" organised by the Embassy.
On 29 April, the majority of the Brazilian Supreme Court upheld the ruling made at the beginning of April of the unconstitutionality of the application of the "principle of good faith" in the gold trade and ordered the government to issue a new legal framework for the gold trade within 90 days, in particular regarding its origin. This brings the achievement of one of our main engagement demands in gold within reach: to oppose the acquisition of gold extracted from indigenous lands through legislative, regulatory and/or administrative measures. This could then also have a direct impact on the way due diligence assessments are carried out by gold refiners and gold buying companies and banks.
In a positive sense, events are overlapping with regard to our engagement demands to solve the problem of non-verifiable registration and thus the difficult to impossible traceability of mined gold.
On 30 March, the Brazilian tax authority passed a resolution that, with effect from 03.07.2023, the current paper receipts must be replaced by electronic invoice receipts in the trade of gold. This is linked to the goal of enabling the verification of gold transactions with the help of the technical means available at the tax authority and thus improving the transparency and control of these transactions. This milestone can be evaluated as the basis for a more sophisticated traceability system yet to be established, where the origin of Brazilian gold can be tracked from the mining sites to the end user. Such a sophisticated traceability system could be developed based on physical gold tagging and blockchain technology, according to experts, which we would very much welcome.
At the beginning of April, a judge of the Supreme Court in Brazil decided to suspend the law of the "principle of good faith" in the gold trade, which has been in force since 2013, due to alleged unconstitutionality. The previous practice, whereby a gold buyer can, without further proof, look at gold from a legal area of origin if the seller so states, is considered a major lever in the fight against illegal gold mining in the Amazon, as it precludes stricter control mechanisms for this activity.
We received answers to our questions from the Brazilian Central Bank, the companies Volkswagen and Fresenius Medical Care as well as the financial actors Zürcher Kantonalbank and Amundi Asset Management. In the evaluation of the answers, it is noticeable that the awareness of the problem of individual responsibility, the existing management systems and the intended measures to be taken against illicit gold are in part far different. Thus, we received a relatively detailed answer from the Brazilian central bank, but in our opinion the content of the answer does not address our demands for measures to be taken to prevent the introduction of illegal gold into the Brazilian gold market. Both gold funds confirm that they only invest in gold that meets the Good Delivery Standard of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). It is to be seen positively that Amundi has approached LBMA in response to our request for information on the Chimet gold refinery, which is suspected of illegal gold processing. In its assessment of this gold refinery, the LBMA does not find any misconduct with regard to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and Responsible Gold Guidance. On a positive note, Fresenius Medical Care addressed our questions in detail and was willing to discuss the Chimet case with the Responsible Mining Initiative, of which they are a member. Although we would like to see companies and financial actors continue to take more responsibility, we also see the standards set by the LBMA as an important lever in curbing the illegal gold trade, which in our opinion need to be improved.
We continued our dialogue already started with the Brazilian Central Bank and followed up with specific questions about its responsibilities and tasks in preventing illegal gold trade. For example, we questioned the specific role of the central bank, why it should link the licensing of the first official trading point for extracted gold, the so-called "Distribuidora de Titulos e Valores Mobiliarios" (DTVMs), with controls and sanctions on the origin of gold. We would also like to know what role the Central Bank could play in a traceability system with DNA markers, which experts are calling for. In addition to challenge the Central Bank and other actors in Brazil about their role in preventing illegal gold mining, we also take the buyer side of gold at the international level into our engagement focus. Therefore, last month we already started an engagement with international companies such as Volkswagen or Fresenius Medical Care on their risk of having illegal gold from Brazil in their supply chain. Moreover, we are now adding the banks and investment funds. We have contacted the Zürcher Kantonalbank and Amundi Asset Management, both of which offer gold funds. The background to this is that these and many other gold funds claim to only buy gold that meets the Good Delivery Standard of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). However, the Italian gold refinery, which is suspected of processing illegal gold, is also on the current LBMA Good Delivery List.
We started to engage against the risk of illegal gold from Brazil in company supply chains. According to various research and media reports the Italian gold refining company Chimet S.p.A. is suspected by the Brazilian Federal Police of having purchased illegally mined gold worth several million US dollars from indigenous territory. Many international companies report working with this refinery in their supply chain, such as Volkswagen or Fresenius Medical Care.
The involvement of illegal gold mining of any kind in the supply chain of international companies would certainly not only cause reputational damage, but also legal risks for those companies. These legal risks arise from supply chain laws like the German Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz), which came into force this year. According to these laws violations of supply chain due diligence can be sanctioned with severe fines and legal action.
We would now like to know from the companies, among other things, what conclusions they draw from the accusations against Chimet and whether they are specifically investigating their supply chain for illegal gold from indigenous areas. Our letter to Volkswagen with all the details can be found here.
With the election of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his first acts in office at the beginning of the year, a number of concrete measures can already be identified that positively contribute to our engagement demands. These include:
- The internationally recognised environmental activist Marina Silva has been appointed Minister of the Environment.
- Sônia Guajajara has been appointed Brazil's first indigenous minister. She will head the newly created Ministry of Indigenous Peoples.
- Indigenous Deputy Joenia Wapichanahas been appointed president of FUNAI, that has been renamed in the National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples.
- The head of Brazil's environmental agency (Ibama) is to be replaced.
- The Amazon Fund will be re-established to be used for reducing deforestation.
- The measures adopted by the previous government to facilitate mining in protected areas and on indigenous lands will be withdrawn.
- The Action Plan to Combat Deforestation of the Amazon (PPCDAm) and the Cerrado (PPCerrado) is relaunched, and similar plans are developed for all other Brazilian biomes.
- The cadastral office is transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Environment.
- Reorganisation of the procedure for environmental fines could avoid the more than USD 3 billion in unpaid fines from lapsing.
- Lula is expected to designate 13 new indigenous territories this month that were ignored during Bolsonaro's term.
Since Lula's election, we have put our engagement with official Brazilian bodies on hold because many of the action plans we have been calling for are on Lula's political agenda and some have already been initiated. We will do a mid-year review at the earliest to see which measures have already been initiated and where there is a need for improvement. But the new government faces great challenges, as the country is politically divided and there is a strong opposition. In order to implement its plans, the government needs all the external support it can get to prevail against the continuing regime of Amazon destruction. Therefore, we will definitely continue our engagement activities on all levels against the unbroken strong illegal gold mining, with its devastating consequences for people and nature in the Amazon.
Around the Brazilian presidential election, we focused our engagement activities on attacking the policies of the previous president Bolsonaro, which were devastating for the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous and traditional population living there, and at the same time supporting the promising election promises of the then presidential candidate and now future president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. To this end, we have carried out our engagement activities in this regard with both direct outreach and public positioning. In addition to maintaining pressure through our follow-up letters to FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency responsible for indigenous affairs, and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have been able to establish a dialogue with the Brazilian Central Bank on the issue of illegal gold mining. In a first step, we have requested and received a response from the Brazilian Central Bank, among other things on the problem of non-verifiable registration and thus the difficult to impossible traceability of mined gold. We are now in the process of planning an exchange with the Governor of the Brazilian central bank to discuss our position and possible solutions on that issue via video conference.
Also in the past few months, our engagement has also been taken up by various media in the international press. You can find a list of all media articles published so far.
For months we have been exploring the possibilities of targeting illegal gold mining in the Amazon, in addition to our direct engagement activities with high-level Brazilian government officials. To this end, we have held a large number of discussions with church organisations, also on the ground, Brazilian and international NGOs as well as industry experts. Furthermore, in an in-person conversation with an indigenous leader of the Munduruku ethnic group, we received a first-hand account of the terrible consequences and side effects of illegal gold mining for the rainforest and the indigenous and traditional people living there. Besides the destruction of livelihoods through deforestation and water pollution by mercury, intimidation, expulsion and even murder are sad realities.
Because of its economic and political importance to the Brazilian government, as well as the devastating consequences of gold mining for people and nature in the Amazon, this economic sector provides an additional pressure point on the government to press our demands for greater protection of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous and traditional people.
This is why we have started to explicitly include illegal gold mining in our engagement activities. As a first step, we have asked the Brazilian Central Bank to comment on the problem of non-verifiable registration and thus the difficulty or even impossibility of traceability of gold, among other things, and to consider appropriate solutions. In addition, we are trying to get into contact with the presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has announced that if he is re-elected, he will not only strengthen the rights of the indigenous population and the protection of the rainforest, but also fight illegal gold mining. We are planning further engagement steps.
In a further engagement step, we have just written to the Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil, Roberto Campos Neto. In doing so, we report to him from the perspective of a Catholic institutional investor alliance that as long as there is no change in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the violation of the rights of the indigenous and traditional peoples living there, there is also a very real threat to the Brazilian economy. The reason for this is that more and more consumers and international companies are boycotting Brazilian products and investors are refraining from further investments in securities of such Brazilian companies and Brazilian government bonds. We expect him to take this point into account in central bank deliberations and actions, as well as to have a dialogue with us about it.
We have continued our written exchange with FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency responsible for indigenous affairs. At the end of March, we asked FUNAI to answer our questions and to make a clear statement on the devastating draft law PL 191, which, among other things, would allow the extensive exploitation of raw materials on indigenous territory. So far, we have not received a reply, despite having contacted the higher-level Ministry of Justice.
We welcome very much that we were able to establish an exchange with the German ambassador in Brasilia in May. Our wish for the German Embassy to draw attention to our engagement and the associated concerns in the exchange with Brazilian and international diplomats and other stakeholders was fulfilled with a commitment.
Furthermore, we have tried to intensify our already existing exchange with members of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, to reach new deputies as well as to establish new contacts on the level of the Senate in order to place our general demands for engagement on the one hand and to sound out possibilities to present our concerns in the National Congress on the other hand. We hope that a hearing in the National Congress will draw the attention of government and opposition politicians from both chambers of parliament to the financial risks of the current Amazon policy and thus introduce a hitherto missing argument into the broad political debate.
It is pleasing that we were already able to establish a written dialogue with the Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franco França in April. Even if the Foreign Minister's comments do not describe any major new approaches to change, they at least reaffirm the government's goal of eliminating illegal logging by 2028. It also confirms that our demands for measures to protect the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous and traditional people living there are noted and that some of them have been considered by the government. Nevertheless, the unabated high levels of deforestation in the Amazon indicate that too little effective action has been taken by the government. Therefore we have requested a statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs on how the measures allegedly taken by the government specifically pay into our demands.
We have continued our written dialogue with FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency responsible for indigenous affairs, and have responded to their letter. It should be noted that FUNAI is not closed to dialogue. However, the points made so far in the response to our questions lack a critical examination by FUNAI of the actual circumstances of the indigenous population and the destruction of the Amazon. Repeatedly, we have presented a detailed rebuttal, concluding that a more ambitious plan to protect the rainforest and the people who live there must be developed and pursued. Unfortunately, in our view, insufficient awareness of the problem on the part of FUNAI is preventing the necessary action from being taken. In our current letter, we specifically address the position and countermeasures taken on the proposed Bill PL191/2020, expected to be voted on next month, which would allow mining and the construction of dams on indigenous lands, including those with isolated indigenous peoples. If passed, this law would give carte blanche to the exploitation of indigenous territory and increase the risks to life, health and the environment, as well as violence against indigenous peoples. Therefore, we strictly reject this legislative initiative. Our response letter to FUNAI with all the details can be found here.
On 8 March, we discussed our engagement in detail with the Norwegian Ambassador in Brasilia and the Ministerial Counsellor for Economic Affairs of the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, Rodrigo Godinho, during a round of talks conducted via video conference. We were able to explain our concerns and our concrete demands for the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous and traditional population living there in detail in a direct dialogue. The round of talks took place within the framework of a panel discussion, organised by the "Emerging Markets Investor Alliance", for a closed circle of participants from institutional investors and supranational organisations such as the World Bank. This allowed us to simultaneously sensitise the participants, which included some of the largest global investment houses, to our human rights and environmental concerns from an investor perspective and to encourage them to act. Even though no convincing new solutions were presented by the Brazilian side during the round of talks, the goal issued at the climate conference to completely prevent illegal deforestation by 2028 was confirmed. For the effectiveness of our engagement, the very constructive exchange with the Norwegian ambassador should also be mentioned. After all, with 1.21 billion US dollars, Norway is the largest donor to the so-called "Amazon Fund", through which measures are provided to prevent, control and combat deforestation and for the conservation and sustainable use of resources in the Brazilian Amazon.
In addition to this panel discussion, we have received a detailed response to our letter sent in December to FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency responsible for indigenous affairs, that we are now analysing. Furthermore we have had exchanges with some federal representatives and senators, some of whom participated in our video conference last year. This is to explore the possibilities of presenting our engagement at hearings with President Arthur Lira in the House of Representatives and with the President of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco. Our main focus here is to oppose the dramatic legislative proposals that threaten the Amazonas and the indigenous population (See Here).
At the climate conference that ended last month, 105 countries, including Brazil, pledged to end deforestation by 2030. Nevertheless, the current deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has reached a new high since 2008. A whole package of disastrous laws for the situation in the Amazon and the people living there is now before the Senate for decision. Aware of these developments, we have continued our engagement unabated. In order to further increase the pressure on the Senate, we have now also written directly to the President of the Environment Committee in the Senate, Senator Jaques Wagner, asking for a dialogue. In doing so, we are once again underlining the international relevance of this sustainability issue for the Brazilian economy and the financial market. At the same time, we have followed up with the government agencies already contacted and pressed for a response. Furthermore, the Special Commission for Integral Ecology and Mining for the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB) is working intensively to introduce a speech on our engagement demands, via the opposition politicians with whom we were in conversation in August, to the National Congress.
Bank für Kirche und Caritas (BKC) is a founding member of the European institutional investor engagement network "Shareholders for Change" (SfC), which has been in existence since 2017. Through this, SfC engage with seven Brazilian and international companies in the agricultural supply chain that are involved in or at high risk of deforestation. The SfC Annual Report reports on both this engagement and our the catholic engagement with Brazil (See page 15 in the report: SfC-ENGAGEMENT-Report2021-DEF.pdf).
We have continued our written dialogue with FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency responsible for indigenous affairs, and have responded to their letter. In our response letter we presented a detailed counter-argument, which leads to the conclusion that a more ambitious plan for the protection of the rainforest and the people living there must be developed and pursued. We also emphasise our short-term demands once again that includes specific legislative proposals that are already in the process of being voted on, which will have a dramatic impact on the indigenous population and the protection of the Amazon. In addition, we ask them to comment what they are doing to stop the promotion and implementation of the Marco Temporal Thesis (time frame thesis), an arbitrary cut-off date for the recognition of indigenous territorial rights. It appears to us to be of particular relevance, because the main argument for this is that according to the Marco Temporal Thesis, only lands that were physically inhabited by indigenous groups at the time of the adoption of the 1988 Constitution could be demarcated as "indigenous lands". This would exclude land from which indigenous groups were forcibly evicted. In order to further advance the pressure on the Brazilian government, we have now also written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Alberto Franco França and asked for a dialogue. In doing so, we are once again underlining the relevance of the issue for the Brazilian economy and the financial market, in addition to the ethical and sustainability reasons.
Our response letter to FUNAI can be found here.
It is only a signal, but at least it is a first positive signal: according to media reports, the Brazilian delegation at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Clasgow, which starts 1st of November, will announce to end illegal deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 2027 or 2028, according to Vice President Hamilton Mourão. Of course, we consider this announcement still insufficient, but it shows that the international pressure, which includes our engagement activities, is having a first effect.
In order to further advance our engagement activities with the Brazilian government, we have now also written to the Minister of Economy, Paulo Roberto Nunes Guedes, in mid-October and asked for a dialogue. In addition to the pressure we have built up on the government for ethical and sustainability reasons, this should once again highlight the relevance for Brazil's economy and financial market. Furthermore, in July, we received confirmation from the International Affairs Office of the Federal Senate - Presidium that our letter had been forwarded to the Environmental Committee of the Federal Senate for processing. As we have not yet received any reaction of the Environmental Committee, we have now contacted the Environmental Committee directly. Moreover, we are currently in the process of carefully analysing the 74-page response letter received from the Ministry of the Attorney General's Office, and formulating our response based on this.
As a Catholic investor alliance, we are also in close exchange with other investor alliances that share our concern. In this context, Shareholders for Change, of which Bank für Kirche und Caritas is a founding member, led by its member Ethos Foundation, launched an engagement in September with seven companies active in the soy and beef value chains in Brazil, which are among the risk drivers of deforestation in the Amazon. For more information on this engagement, see the SfC newsletter.
On 25th August Bank für Kirche und Caritas (BKC), the Special Commission on Integral Ecology and Mining for the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB) and the Laudato Si Movement (former GCCM) met with the minority leader in the Brazilian Congress, Marcelo Freixo, and several opposition politicians for an online hearing. During the intense and long debate BKC, CNBB and GCCM underlined the urgency of the environmental and social problems in the Amazon and the role they play for investors. As a result of the exchange, Marcelo Freixo summarised that the environmental destruction promoted by the government can have and already has enormous effects on the Brazilian economy, as it drives away investors. This is why, he said, it is important for the opposition to push the government to negotiate in a way that also takes into account the concerns of investors. The proposal of the opposition politicians present to initiate a hearing in the National Congress (Federal Senate and Chamber of Deputies), in which the perspective of international financial investors on the protection of the Amazon and the indigenous population is brought in, therefore also meets with our fullest approval. This is because most parliamentarians are not aware of the investor pressure on this issue and it could form an important contribution to the discussion in the decision-making process on laws concerning the Amazon.
Here is the presentation given by BKC in english.
On 24 June, Bank für Kirche und Caritas (BKC), the Special Commission on Integral Ecology and Mining for the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB) and the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) coordinated further steps in their engagement with Brazil to protect the Amazon and indigenous peoples, which was launched in March. After initial reactions from the Vice President's Office and the Ministry of Justice, we have now entered into a dialogue with FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency responsible for indigenous affairs. In addition to the demands we have already formulated, we are now very specifically addressing legislative proposals that are already in the process of being voted on, which will have a dramatic impact on the indigenous population and the protection of the Amazon.
BKC, GCCM, CNBB, who are leading this engagement with nearly 100 Catholic institutions, have once again emphasised how important it is to create awareness for the current situation and the threatening legislative proposals. Therefore, we already have an extensive exchange of information with like-minded investor groups, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to advance our engagement demands, and we will continue our networking activities intensively.
Our response letter to FUNAI can be found here.
In addition to the initial response to our letter from the President's personal office, which forwarded our request to the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Justice, we have now received a reply from the Ministry of Justice. In a multi-page statement, FUNAI (Fundacao Nacional do Indio), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice and is the Brazilian governmental body for the affairs of the indigenous population of Brazil, presents its point of view. In addition, the Ministry of Justice has shown itself willing to engage in further dialogue. We are currently in the process of carefully analysing the feedback given and, based on this, seeking dialogue. We have also received a response from the Vice-President's personal office. In his response, it is stated that Amazon conservation is a priority on the Brazilian government's agenda and that the National Council for the Legal Amazon (CNAL) is responsible for its implementation. It was expressed that the CNAL is ready for a dialogue and we wrote to them.
We continue to be pleased with the great media attention that we have been able to achieve with our engagement. Well over 80 Brazilian and international media reported on this. This high media attention generates additional pressure on the Brazilian government from the public and important stakeholders. As planned, we held very fruitful discussions with various investor alliances that are also committed to protecting the Amazon. We discussed mutual support in advancing our common cause. Of great importance is here the possibility to mention to the Brazilian government that we are aware of the respective other engagement activities and are in an information exchange. This increases the pressure on the Brazilian government to act, which has been built up by investors.
More than 60 media worldwide have reported on our engagement in different languages. Extremely renowned daily and financial media as well as Catholic media have reported on it. This high level of media attention is not only proof that our engagement represents an urgent issue, but also generates the necessary public attention to increase pressure on the Brazilian government. In response to our engagement letter to President Jair Bolsonaro, we received an official letter from the President's personal office confirming that our letter had been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Environment due to the jurisdiction of our concern "Protection of the Amazon and Indigenous Peoples". This response may not be considered very significant in itself. However, representatives of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference confirmed that there is usually no response to similar attempts at dialogue. Thus, this initial response can be seen as positive and we hope for a willingness to dialogue in the coming weeks. As planned, we have made contact with various investor alliances that have already started similar engagement activities with Brazil. The aim is to examine how we can bring our common concern to the Brazilian government with more pressure through information exchange, mutual support and cooperation.
On 29 March 2021, a group of nearly 100 Catholic institutions, led by the The Special Commission on Integral Ecology and Mining for the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB), the international Catholic network Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and the German Catholic Church Bank Bank für Kirche und Caritas (BKC) sent a letter to high-ranking Brazilian government representatives and officials with clear demands to protect the Amazon and the indigenous people living there. The letter was sent by mail and email. In detail, the following addressees have been written to: President, Vice President, Minister for the Environment, President of the House of Representatives, President of the Federal Senate, President of the Federal Supreme Court, Attorney General of the Republic. In addition the engagement letter has been published as an open letter and given to the press. We now hope that the Brazilian government will be willing to start a dialogue.