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EcosystemsOlá Jeff

Olá Jeff

Olá Jeff

Governor of Amazonas calls on Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos (and other wealthy business leaders) to take a position in a sustainable tropical forest economy

A latest video from the governor of Amazonas kicks off with an off-the-cuff salutation: “Olá, Jeff.” Directed at Jeff Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, the video is narrated within the voice of the Amazon rainforest and contrasts the activities and value of the mega corporation with that of the world’s largest tropical forest region and its 38 million people.

“If your organization is the most useful of all, I’m priceless,” the forest says.

The video is a component of a campaign by the governor of Amazonas, Wilson Lima, to extend investments in Brazil’s largest state, positioned in the center of the Amazon River basin. Lima hosted the 12th annual meeting of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force last week in Manaus, gathering greater than 300 participants, including governors, environment secretaries, Indigenous peoples, and international and native partners focused on tropical deforestation and rural livelihoods.

In a bit over 60 seconds, the video encapsulates two principal themes from the meeting: the necessity for out of doors investment from wealthier parts of the world to guard forests; and the importance of providing sustainable livelihoods for the tens of millions of people that struggle with poverty in tropical forest regions.

“Get down here, Jeff. The Amazon is asking for you,” the voice of the forest says, echoing a call from governors within the GCF Task Force for the private sector, in addition to public institutions and philanthropic foundations, to step up their investments in tropical forest regions.

As a part of the Manaus Motion Plan, a latest policy guide launched on the meeting, each jurisdiction has developed an in depth investment plan to spur private and non-private finance. Thus far, financial flows have been insufficient for regions and countries to succeed in their goals for reducing deforestation and addressing rural poverty.

The voice of the forest also emphasizes the individuals who live within the Amazon region: “Under my trees, real people live their lives. And in the event that they should not taken care of, it’s not possible to care for me.”

On the meeting, Lima observed that outsiders often see the Amazon River basin for its biodiversity, but not its population, which is roughly the identical size as California’s.

“The world looks on the forest today and doesn’t see that, among the many trees, there are real people living here,” Lima said. “Within the eyes of the world, today, we’re 38 million invisible people.”

Manaus, the most important city in Amazonas, is home to greater than 2 million people. Photo credit: Daniel Melling, UCLA Emmett Institute

Providing meaningful economic opportunities for people in forest regions – each those that live in forests and people in cities and towns – is critical for reducing deforestation. The Manaus Motion Plan notes that any effort to guard forests won’t succeed unless it also reduces poverty.

“An important a part of the Manaus Motion Plan is the popularity that the forests agenda – the conservation agenda – must even be an anti-poverty agenda,” said William Boyd, the Emmett Institute’s faculty co-director, in opening remarks on the meeting.

Two latest initiatives in Amazonas announced last week display the connection between forest protection and economic development:

– A latest MOU between USAID and the GCF Task Force, signed by Lima and USAID Brazil director Ted Gehr, formalizes a partnership focused on sustainable economic development within the Amazon region, including work with indigenous communities to provide and market sustainable goods from the forest – and attract further private investment. USAID has also supported an impact investment fund within the Amazon with the goal of reaching $65 million in private sector investments, and worked alongside the Development Finance Corporation to assist lower the chance for personal financing for small businesses within the Amazon.

– And a state initiative, Guardians of the Forest, that pays families who live in state conservation units to guard forests will expand to supply R$100 monthly payments to greater than 14,000 families in 28 conservation areas, making this system one the world’s largest payment-for-ecosystem-services schemes. Formerly called Bolsa Floresta, the initiative was re-named to emphasise the necessary role of communities in protecting forests.

Much more private and public finance is required. So when the Amazon River invites Jeff Bezos and other private sector leaders to return right down to the forest and get to know its people and ecosystem, let’s hope they hear the decision.

Amazon, Amazonas, deforestation, Jeff Bezos


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