U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits the EmĘ¬lio Goeldi Museum's research center in Belem, at the mouth of the Amazon River, November 13, 2007. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
BRASILIA, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday voiced his support for Brazil's efforts to preserve its Amazon rainforest.
"I make my firm commitment that the United Nations
will work with you and stand by you," Ban said during a tour of Combu Island in
the forest's Guama River.
Calling the Amazon "a common asset of all humankind,"
Ban said "the people who have been living here for thousands and thousands of
years, you are the pioneers in preserving this forest."
Ban praised Brazil for its efforts to curb forest
destruction by 50 percent in the previous two years, although the rate has
regained its pace since August.
Ban's visit is part of his assessment on climate
change, which he said will be one of his top priorities during his time in
Accompanying Ban's tour, Brazil's Environment
Minister Marina Silva said the "presence of the UN secretary general is a strong
gesture" for the country's conservation efforts.
Silva also asked Ban to make stronger political
efforts to help the forest.
"We need the secretary general to help convert the
international good will into concrete mechanisms that benefit the people living
in the Amazon," said Silva.
Antonio Marcos Alcantara de Oliveira, who represents
the Brazilian Amazon indigenous organizations, also called for more UN
"The country and the state have contributed, but we
need more, we need help," Alcantara said, pointing out that education and health
in the region are the areas of particular need.
Brazil produces the world's fourth-largest amount of
carbon emissions, due mostly to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest,
according to international environmental groups.
Ban, who began a visit to Brazil Sunday, is in the
Amazon to assess the country's fight against deforestation and the promotion of
sustainable development in the Amazon region.
The United Nations is organizing a summit in Bali, Indonesia, to formulate an outline of a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.