World Bank okays $1.3 bln for Brazil environment

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The World Bank yesterday  approved a $1.3 billion loan to help Brazil’s environmental  management and climate change efforts.

The loan “will support Brazil’s ongoing efforts to improve  its environmental management system and integrate  sustainability concerns in the development agenda of key  sectors such as forest management, water and renewable energy,”  the World Bank said.

Brazil has one-third of the world’s tropical rain forests  and largest reservoir of fresh water.

But the country has struggled for years to control  persistent deforestation in the Amazon rain forest and the  Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland.

Despite increased policing and fines on products from  illegally deforested areas, farmers, ranchers and timber  companies continue to move deeper into the forests in search of  cheap land.

The loan is to help reduce such unsustainable farming and  logging practices as well as land-grabbing by giving local  communities preferential treatment regarding forest  concessions.

The program will also try to improve Brazil’s water and  sanitation services, which are one of the main causes of  hospitalization in the country with diseases such as  dysentery.

Some Brazilian environmental groups had objected to the  loan, saying they feared the resources would be used by the  government to finance large-scale infrastructure projects in  the Amazon.

The government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has  promoted several large dams in the Amazon, including two on the  Madeira River.

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