The Paris-based fashion conglomerate LVMH has pledged €10 million ($11 million) for efforts to fight the fires raging across the Amazon basin.
In announcing the donation, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH and the richest man in Europe, and Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a director at LVMH, called on "all those who share their belief that the Amazon, a world heritage treasure, must be protected, to join this initiative that must become a collective effort." In April, the Arnault family committed €200 million ($226 million) and the architectural and design resources of LVMH in support of the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris after the World Heritage Site cathedral was nearly destroyed by fire. According to the Notre Dame Foundation, the Arnault family had released €10 million ($11.2 million) of their pledge as of the end of June.
"Protecting the environment is not just about words and speeches or signing declarations of principle, it also requires taking concrete collective actions when dangers arise in order to provide resources for local specialists and work together to save our planet," said Arthus-Bertrand. "I am proud that LVMH is participating in this emergency effort and I hope that many others will follow suit."
The company also noted "that France has the honor of sharing responsibility for this immense rainforest, along with its vast neighbor Brazil and its other South American neighbors." Earlier this week, the leaders of the Group of Seven nations announced emergency aid of up to €20 million ($22 million) to help Brazil and other countries battle the fires, which have been exacerbated by deforestation driven by large-scale cattle operations and the planting of feed crops. Separately, the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom pledged $11 million and $12 million, respectively.
Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, who earlier had accused French president Emmanuel Macron of treating the Amazon "as if it were a colony or a no-man's land," initially rejeced the offer of aid but later said he would reconsider if Macron were to withdraw "insults made to [his] person." The governments of Norway and Germany also drew Bolsonaro's ire earlier this month when they suspended funding for the Brazilian government's Amazon Fund — to which they had contributed more than $1.2 billion and $68 million, respectively, since 2008 — after the Brazilian government shuttered its steering committee.
"From a technical point of view, it would be very welcome," Eduardo Taveira, environment secretary of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, told the New York Times. "Obviously the states hope, at this moment, resources will come in to help finance the operations that are being organized."