Lula’s government has pledged to tackle deforestation, which reached an all-time high under the Bolsonaro government.

Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva has said he will appoint an advocate against deforestation in the Amazon as head of the country’s environment ministry. Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula announced his latest series of cabinet appointments at a press conference on Thursday, ahead of his January 1 inauguration. One of the most prominent names was Marina Silva, who joins the cabinet as environment minister.

Born in the Amazon rainforest, Silva was a child laborer in the rubber industry who overcame illiteracy to become a Goldman Prize-winning environmental organizer. Her appointment signals Lula’s government’s intention to crack down on the illegal development and exploitation of resources that have devastated large swaths of the woods.

“Brazil will return to the main role it had before when it comes to climate, biodiversity,” Silva told reporters at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, in Egypt, which she attended next to Lula.

The pair have pledged to make protecting the Amazon rainforest a priority, even if it means clashing with Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector. Deforestation peaked under the term of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro record highs.

At the November climate conference, Lula pledged there would be “zero” deforestation, saying that – if the Amazon is not protected – “there will be no climate security”.

Lula was elected in October, defeated Bolsonaro and completed a remarkable political return that ended when he ascended to the Brazilian presidency for a third term.

During Lula’s previous two terms in office, which began in 2003, Silva also served as Environment Minister, where she gained a reputation as a thorn in the side of the agribusiness sector that consumes much of the deforestation.

Under her leadership, the ministry created dozens of protected areas, launched an effort to crack down on environmental criminals, and used a new system of satellite surveillance to monitor the forest. Deforestation dropped significantly, but Silva resigned in 2008 when Lula began to pursue agricultural interests.

In the years that followed, Lula’s political ambitions were hampered when allegations of corruption sent the former president to prison. But Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned the convictions in 2021, allowing Lula to resume his political career.

Lula’s return as a 2022 presidential candidate coincided with his renewed calls for increased environmental conservation. Silva joined his most recent presidential campaign in saying his administration would play a central role in the global fight against climate change.

Their stance comes as a relief to environmentalists, who criticized Bolsonaro for pushing to open up the Amazon to business interests and a Blind eye to deforestation.

Native people and environmentalists have also faced a lot of violence as powerful corporate interests attempted to cut down large swaths of forests. On Thursday, Lula also appointed Sonia Guajajara as Brazil’s prime minister of Indigenous Peoples.

However, the new administration is likely to face strong resistance from Congress, where legislators aligned with the agribusiness and agriculture sector will make up about a third of the House of Commons and Senate.

“At the time, Marina Silva may have been a little too extremist, but agribusiness people had extremists, too,” said Neri Geller, a lawmaker of the agribusiness caucus. “I think she grew up and we grew up. While maintaining our focus, we can make progress on important agenda items for the sector [the environment] at the same time.”

from Lula cabinet chooses indicating that he will try to navigate the realities of a powerful conservative opposition while working to fulfill his promises to pursue environmental and economic justice.

Last week, Lula announced that Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin would serve as Secretary of Development, Industry and Commerce, and business-friendly Congressman Alexandre Padilha was named Secretary of Institutional Affairs.

“We know the challenge ahead is huge,” Lula wrote on Twitter ahead of the announcements. “But we will work together to rebuild the country.”

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