Amazon, place of power

By Marina Grossi, president of CEBDS

The Amazon is on the rise. The confirmation of the holding of the UN Climate Conference, COP30, in Belém, in 2025, already attracts the eyes of the world to the region and will be a great opportunity for Brazil to show commitment to climate action and to curb the loss of biodiversity. Before that, we will see the Amazon Summit, scheduled for the 8th and 9th of August in the capital of Pará, which will bring together, for the first time in 45 years, heads of state of the member countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) – Brazil , Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. On the agenda will be prospects for preserving the Amazon, managing its watershed, combating poverty, hunger and regional inequalities and crime, in addition to attracting resources to the region. 

One of the objectives of the event is to build a joint position of the Amazonian countries to be taken to COP28, in the United Arab Emirates, in November. The bloc is preparing a declaration and must assume the commitment to zero deforestation in the region by 2030, such as the goal assumed by Brazil and anticipated for 2028. There is the intention on the part of the Brazilian government to build a regional observatory for the Amazon, with the to produce data on the region to guide public policies in the eight countries with territories covered by the forest. 

In addition to government representatives, broad civil society participation is expected in parallel events during the Amazon Summit. The Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) will participate in several debates, before and after the summit. One of them is the seminar promoted by the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where innovation, scale and new financial solutions for mobilizing capital and attracting investments will be discussed. CEBDS is also organizing events on natural climate solutions and biodiversity, one of them in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and other organizations. 

The Amazon is a key element for humanity to reach the objective of the Paris Agreement, which is to prevent the average global temperature from rising above 1.5ºC by the end of the century. Half of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions come from changes in land use, with illegal deforestation being our biggest blemish. 

A new economy for the Amazon is more than necessary: in the Brazilian Legal Amazon alone, the potential for an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is in the order of R$ 40 billion annually, with the generation of 312 thousand additional jobs by 2050, according to a study recent event by WRI Brasil in partnership with more than 70 researchers. This would be possible with the strengthening of the bioeconomy and production chains of Brazilian socio-biodiversity, a model that can be applied to all Amazonian countries. Products from the economy of the forest standing in the Amazon, for example, generated annual revenue of US$ 298 million between 2017 and 2019, which is little compared to its potential – globally, the market for products compatible with the forest moved US$ 176, 6 billion a year. 

The CEBDS proposes that, by 2030, at least two items in the Brazilian trade balance are products from the bioeconomy, achieving an increase of at least 1% of GDP through the promotion of these activities. This suggestion was forwarded to the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad, as part of the suggestions made by the business sector to the Ecological Transition Plan, which is being headed by the portfolio.

The occupation of the Amazon was encouraged especially from the 1960s and 1970s onwards, in a model that promised tax incentives and funding for activities such as extensive livestock, and also inaugurated major works, from hydroelectric plants to roads, such as the Transamazônica. However, the view at the time was myopic in relation to the ecosystem services generated by the forest, as deforestation was not only allowed, but also encouraged. Today, with the advancement of scientific knowledge about the importance of the Amazon biome for climate and biodiversity agendas, it is urgent to update the economic model. Companies associated with CEBDS defend the generation of wealth with the forest standing and remedying the inequalities that plague the region – in access to health, education, connectivity, basic sanitation, among many others.

Last year, CEBDS, in partnership with Idesam, mapped the experience of associated companies operating in the region. 143 initiatives were raised, from 53 companies, which directly benefit more than 50 thousand people. These are businesses such as restoration of degraded areas, professional training, development of startups, sustainable agriculture and greater productivity, extractivism and artificial intelligence in preventing deforestation. It is a sample of what can be done in the region and how traditional and disruptive businesses can coexist, generate wealth and shared value based on understanding the logic of the forest and the people who live in it. 

However, it is necessary to gain scale from the connection with public policies that firmly combat deforestation and that generate the right economic incentives for this new Amazonian economy that needs to emerge and will be a great differential for Brazil in the global scenario. It is necessary to give centrality to the Amazon, look at all its power and heal the wounds of a past in which the occupation plan turned into devastation. 

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