(Bloomberg) -- President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wants to show off the Amazon’s reality when Brazil hosts a United Nations climate summit next year. For attendees, that means complicated journeys and precarious conditions.

The northern state of Pará, which is home to about a quarter of the world’s largest rainforest, needs to more than triple its hotel capacity and overcome both transport and sanitation bottlenecks before it can welcome COP30 delegates in late 2025.

Belém, the state capital, has just 12,000 beds at present. Based on the number of attendees at last year’s conference in Dubai, it will need at least 41,000 at its peak when heads of state are in attendance. So one option under consideration is using cruise ships as floating hotels.

Then there’s getting people into town. Given Belém’s airport can’t yet handle the volume of passengers required, the mayor has suggested delegates could fly to other cities and then make the remaining hours-long trek by road.

“There are other places in Brazil where the infrastructure is ready, but these options don’t give the political weight of having the Brazilian COP in the Amazon,” Márcio Astrini, head of São Paulo-based environmental network Observatorio do Clima, said in an interview. “Now the government needs to deliver what is necessary to make the COP viable.”

Pará is a relatively poor state. Though it’s among the biggest in the Amazon, it accounts for less than 3% of Brazil’s total economic output, with an average of monthly income 2,276 reais ($442.34) last year compared to 3,033 reais nationally, according to official data.

Sanitation is a major challenge in Belém. The city of 1.3 million collects about only 20% of its sewage and less than 3% is treated, according to Trata Brasil, a non-governmental organization focused on protecting water resources. 

The scale of Pará’s logistical challenges led some within government to suggest moving the event — or at least parts of it — to Brazil’s biggest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. But both Lula and the state governor are adamant that the conference be held in the Amazon.

“We will have the ‘COP of the Forest,’” Governor Helder Barbalho said in an interview, adding that relocating the UN summit has been “completely ruled out.”

Next year’s conference won’t be the first time Lula has used Pará to promote his environmental agenda on the world stage. Brazil’s president hosted his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, in the northern state during his visit to the country earlier this year.

Lula pitched Belém as host during COP27 summit in Egypt at end of 2022, his first international trip after returning to power that year. He has put protecting the rainforest at the top of his agenda in his third term and is working to restore Brazil’s climate leadership after it became international pariah under former President Jair Bolsonaro.

Pará, however, has long had a problem with deforestation. Last year, it was responsible for about a third of the deforested area in Brazil’s Amazon, the worst among the nine states the biosphere covers, according to Imazon, a local conservation NGO.    

Still, Pará has managed to slow the pace of clear-cutting and is seeking to use COP as leverage to make further progress. It plans to reforest an area almost the size of West Virginia by 2030 with the help of investors who would manage the rehabilitation in return for the right to sell carbon credits generated in the process. 

The first concession of public land for reforestation — a 10,000-hectare reserve that had been illegally occupied and cut — should be finalized in September, Barbalho said. The state is also planning to complete the sale next month of a first tranche of carbon credits from its success so far in reducing deforestation levels. 

In terms of bridging the accommodation gap, there are three new hotels under construction in Belém as well as some provisional space that will later be turned into a new government administrative hub, the governor said. The state is also considering renovating schools to serve as hostels, re-purposing military villas, building modular units and partnering with vacation rental providers like Airbnb Inc.

The use of cruise ships, meanwhile, could offer between 6,000 and 8,000 additional beds. Providing power to the ships has been an obstacle for the state, which is worried about additional emissions once they’re anchored at port. 

Contracting is being coordinated by the federal government, which is considering alternatives to reduce their environmental footprint during the climate event such as the use of biofuels or connecting them to the existing electrical network. Equatorial Pará, a local power distribution and transmission company, confirmed that it’s been approached about supplying energy to cruise ships during COP30.

To solve other logistical problems, the state is working to improve drainage and sewage systems, paving 600 roads and trying to expand other transportation infrastructure, including Belém’s airport. Barbalho’s government argues that between those improvements and the fact it’s only operating at 50% of its capacity currently, it should be able to meet the spike in demand the UN conference with bring.

“Brazil is committed to hosting a COP in Belém,” said Caetano Scannavino, coordinator of Projecto Saúde e Alegria, a Pará-focused NGO. “There is an expectation, an Amazonian mobilization” and any move toward relocating the event “would be very bad.”

--With assistance from Andrew Rosati and Giovanna Serafim.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.