Transforming local communities into protagonists of socio-environmental and economic development in the Amazon is a challenge that everyone needs to embrace, especially the private sector that intends to be present in the region. This is the main legacy of the immersion promoted by CEBDS in the forest, at the end of August 2022, with important business leaders in the country.
For nearly four days, eight CEOs met local entrepreneurs and listened to researchers to understand the region's modus operandi. They represent sectors as diverse as energy, mining, sanitation, logistics and finance.
The initiative – part of the Business Movement for the Amazon, led by CEBDS – was the largest gathering of leaders from large companies to experience the Amazonian reality. The experience will bring powerful inspirations for the journey towards a new way of doing business in the Amazon.
“It doesn't do much good for us to come here with the pretense of telling them what to do for them. It's the opposite. Our vision has to be: am I worthy of being here? To operate here? I'm the one who has to be concerned about not interfering with this whole balance. This all became very clear on our visit. We went into the bowels of the forest, into the communities. Success is in their belonging. In being part of the initiative and not subjects of the initiative”, says Fabio Schettino, CEO of Hidrovias do Brasil.
According to the waterway logistics sector executive, who spent his childhood in the Amazon, there is a big challenge on the table. “You have to involve the community for it to feel that the initiative is theirs and should be maintained by them”, he says.
Respect for what happens in the interior of the Amazon is fundamental, also in the view of Ricardo Guimarães, CEO of Banco BNP Paribas in Brazil. “It is a marriage between the will to invest and the reality of each community. It is very important to have a sustainable and lasting growth. The view that one has about a quick and easy resolution of all the problems that exist here is wrong.”
The more information and knowledge about everyday life in the Amazon, the better, says Veronica Coelho, president of Equinor Brasil. “The potential of the region was clear. With all that we have seen, we are better able to know how to act with local communities to guarantee the sustainability of the forest”, says the executive.
The point of view of those who live in communities in the interior of the Amazon – and the immersion showed the reality of what happens mainly in the interior of Pará – cannot be left out of any decision-making process, reflects Maurício Rodrigues, responsible for Bayer Crop Science for the Latin America. “We had the opportunity to get to know the local perspective up close, talking and living with the communities. And with all this information, obtained in a few days, we are able to assess exactly where both the private sector and the government can contribute to the development of the region. There are many development opportunities here”, says Rodrigues.
What has been called nature-based solutions, according to Cristiano Pinto da Costa, president of Shell Brasil, fully applies to the Amazon. “As we've seen here, it's something tangible and totally practical. It is a growing line of business in the world”, explains the energy sector executive.
Vision also corroborated by another participant of the immersion, the president of Rede Ipiranga, Leonardo Linden. “This focus on local communities makes us understand how to invest and be part of this life here in a sustainable way. This immersion increased the respect and sense of responsibility we need to have when participating in the economy of this region.”
To learn more about Imersão, check out the article published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo: https://estudio.folha.uol.com.br/amazonia-importa/2022/09/o-tempo-da-floresta.shtml.