Humphrey Fellow Screens New Documentary on Brazil's Forest Code

On April 21, the Environmental Law Society, Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication, and the Program on International & Comparative Environmental Law hosted a screening and discussion of "The Law of Water: the New Forest Code," a new documentary. The recently released documentary discusses the adoption of a new Forest Code in Brazil, the impacts of those changes on deforestation, water, agriculture, and how the country reacted to the decision to pass the new law. Humphrey Fellow Raul Silva Telles do Valle, a Brazilian environmental lawyer, was one of the creators of the documentary and provided legal commentary throughout. Brazil is home to the largest rainforest of the planet, the Amazon, which has lost 20 percent of its original area to agriculture just in the last 40 years. In 2004, the Federal Government decided to really enforce the Forest Code, an old law that had existed for many decades, but had low rates of compliance. Since then deforestation dropped by 80 percent to the lowest levels since the monitoring system began. Then in 2012, after three years of intense dispute, the National Congress approved a new Forest Code. Agricultural representatives say it was modernized. Environmentalists and scientists say it was weakened. "The Law of Water: the New Forest Code" not only discusses many of the environmental problems related to this new law, including continuing deforestation of the Amazon, water pollution, and flooding, amongst others, but also discussed the reaction of the people to the new law. Prior to the law's passage, the people of Brazil urged President Dilma Rousseff to veto the proposed legislation, which she did not. This highlighted the impact of the legislation on a wide-range of people and the importance of the ability to organize and protest when trying to be heard. Additionally, it chronicled the impact the environmental degradation has on people. The filmmakers met with farmers and other people who were impacted by the legislation to hear their stories and to see the real world impact of the legislation. Following the screening of the film, which will be available on iTunes soon, Raul do Valle answered questions from the audience.