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BOGOTA, Colombia, Fri. March 19, 2021 (Reuters) – A fund created by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to protect the Amazon rainforest could receive up to $1 billion in donations, the bank’s president said on Thursday, adding that the IDB will commit $20 million to the project.

The fund will promote inclusive and sustainable economic development models across seven Amazonian countries – including Colombia and regional giant Brazil – IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone said at the bank’s annual meeting of boards of governors in the Colombian Caribbean city of Barranquilla.

“A healthy and thriving Amazon, which takes advantage of its natural capital in a sustainable way, can be an engine for the development of our peoples,” Claver-Carone said.

He said the IDB would provide $20 million – subject to final approval of the bank’s board of directors – in seed capital to the fund.

The focus of the fund will be on the sustainable management of agriculture, livestock, forests, human capital, cities, and infrastructure, and is expected to receive perhaps $1 billion in donations.

“We anticipate there will be up to $1 billion in commitments in the fund,” Claver-Carone told journalists in a news conference.

More than half of global destruction of old-growth tropical rainforests has taken place in the Amazon and bordering forests since 2002. Rainforests, in particular the Amazon, absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide, and scientists say their protection is vital to curbing climate change.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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