SPA Authors Present at Princeton’s Brazil LAB “Amazonian Leapfrogging” Event

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On May 5th, Science Panel for the Amazon authors Marina Hirota, Tasso Azevedo, and Carlos Souza had the opportunity to speak at the “Amazonian Leapfrogging” conference organized by PIIRS’s Brazil LAB, the High Meadows Environmental Institute and Amazônia 2030. The theme of the conference was “Tackling the Climate Crisis and Social Inequality with Nature-Based Solutions”. The authors presented alongside various powerful actors for the Amazon, including the Indigenous and climate activist, Txai Suruí. Marina Hirota and Tasso Azevedo both presented on “The Amazonian Nexus in the Planet’s Green Shift” and Carlos Souza presented on “Curbing Amazonian Deforestation”, covering various topics found in the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report.

A video titled “Amazon: The Tipping Point” was also showcased by Tasso Azevedo’s organization MapBiomas which set the tone for the event, focusing on the urgency of action needed for the Amazon. MapBiomas is a multi-institutional initiative involving universities, NGOs and technology companies, united to contribute to the understanding of territory transformations based on the annual mapping of land cover and use in Brazil. MapBiomas Amazonia was created to contribute to the understanding of the transformations occurring in the Amazon territory through the annual mapping of land cover and land use in the Amazon. It is an innovative tool used to track deforestation enforcement and land-use changes in the region and its data helped Dr. Azevedo to present a powerful argument to support the idea of going beyond solutions only inspired by nature and embracing nature-based solutions where we use the power of the ecosystems to provide the natural service. With the Brazilian elections coming up in October, this is a very important year for Brazil and for the Amazon. This event included a rich variety of stakeholders and researchers from the Amazon region who gave insight into the data behind why this year is so important and why we have to act on the four key SPA recommendations urgently. If you were unable to attend, you can watch the full Amazonian Leapfrogging event online.

Royal Society names SPA Co-Chair Carlos Nobre first Brazilian member since 1800s

Carlos Nobre

The Science Panel for the Amazon congratulates our Co-Chair Dr. Carlos Nobre on his election to The Royal Society; Nobre is the first Brazilian member elected since the 1800s. Fellowship in the Society, the oldest known scientific academy in existence, is a significant honor, granted to individuals who have made a “substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science”. Dr. Nobre has been a leader in studying the Amazon and was an early proponent of the theory that rapid deforestation is pushing the world’s largest rainforest toward a tipping point. This invitation is emblematic because it honors a Brazilian, scientist and climatologist who has conducted extensive research on the Amazon.

Dr. Nobre has dedicated his career to building scientific capacity in Brazil and contributed tremendously to research with a profound impact on policy. He served as a member of the International Panel on Climate Change, honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In 2013, he was named a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board for Global Sustainability. He has served as the National Secretary for research and development policies at the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation; President of the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education; and Program Scientist for the Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia. Since 2019, Dr. Nobre has been the Co-Chair of the Science Panel for the Amazon, the first high-level science initiative dedicated to the Amazon.

A Reuters feature quoted Nobre, saying on his appointment, “The Royal Society is giving international recognition to the risks that the Amazon faces. It’s an enormous risk that we could lose the greatest biodiversity and the biggest tropical forest on the planet.”

Colleagues from around the world have witnessed Dr. Nobre’s tenacious dedication to climate research and the passion he brings to communicating the importance of the Amazon to audiences at the national, regional, and international level, especially in guiding the launch of the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report. Through his work and especially work with the SPA, he has inspired young scientists in the region to research, and innovate to advance conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon.

We applaud The Royal Society for honoring Dr. Nobre’s incredible work and bringing greater attention to notable scientists of the Amazon region.

Open Position: Science Officer

the amazon we want - Science Panel for the Amazon

Science Officer, Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA)

The Science Panel for the Amazon, convened under the auspices of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) represents the world’s first high-level science initiative dedicated to the survival of the Amazon. The first report of the SPA, launched at the COP26 in Glasgow, is the most in-depth and holistic report of its kind on the Amazon.

The state of urgency and the complexity and scope of the challenges the Amazon is facing calls for continued specialized research and scientific knowledge. It is thus paramount to ensure that the SPA remains active and operational in the long-term to develop much needed scientific assessments on the state of the Amazon and build and share knowledge to advance evidence-based sustainable development pathways for the Amazon.

The Science Officer of the Science Panel for the Amazon reports to the SPA Co-Chairs and works closely with the Scientific Steering Committee, the SPA Strategic Coordinator and SPA’s Technical Secretariat.


The Science Officer of the Science Panel for the Amazon will:
●  Coordinate working group(s) undertaking SPA research reviews and analysis and producing SPA deliverables (white papers, policy briefs, articles, media materials, etc.).

●  Manage and oversee SPA’s scientific work, including substantive reports and other written content.

●  Provide leadership and strategic guidance to facilitate inter-WG communication, alignment, and cohesion.

●  Set up rigorous review protocols and oversee review processes to ensure all SPA documents undergo proper vetting.

●  Provide leadership and strategic guidance to facilitate SPA’s external engagement.

○  Propose fora where engagement is useful.

○  Represent SPA at public events, including workshops, webinars, scientific conferences, policy fora, and COPs.

●  Generate original written content and demonstrate thought-leadership, through articles, op-eds, blogs, and longer outputs.

●  Act as the substantive editor of all outputs being released on behalf of the SPA.

●  Develop and execute an annual program strategy, endorsed by the Scientific Steering Committee and approved by the Co-Chairs.

●  Oversee the Technical Secretariat in the management of SPA meetings.

●  Oversee SPA membership processes and key partnerships.

● 10-15 years of experience in Amazon-related issues.

●  Ph.D. degree in conservation- and/or sustainability-relevant fields.

●  Excellent organizational and project leadership skills.

●  Demonstrated track record of effectively leading a performance-based and outcome-based program. Candidates must have developed and executed strategies that have taken an organization or program to the next stage of impact and growth. They must be skilled in developing strategy.

●  Proven ability to work independently as well as collaboratively in a matrixed team environment.

●  Demonstrated experience managing a high-performance team with a deep commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and empowerment.

●  Ability to operate with independence, under pressure, and to meet deadlines and commitments.

●  Excellent interpersonal skills require knowing when to use courtesy, tact, and/or diplomacy to effectively communicate with all constituents.

●  Ability to effectively prioritize and produce high-quality work under time constraints.

●  Ability to demonstrate integrity in deliverables, behavior, and demeanor.

●  Fluent in English and Portuguese or Spanish.

Duration: One year with the possibility to renew. Candidates who are current faculty at institutions of higher education and interested in filling this position during a sabbatical will be considered.

Applications: Please fill out an application, including the attachment of a cover letter and CV, below. We will contact only those candidates whose profile meets our requirements. Apply here:

Location: Seeking a candidate based in one of our SDSN global offices or will work remotely.

Salary: The salary for this position is commensurate with experience and includes a generous benefits package.

SDSN provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to unlawful considerations of race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, genetic information, military or veteran status, age, and physical or mental disability, or any other classification protected by applicable local, state, or federal laws

Apply here:

Science Panel for the Amazon Media Roundup


The Science Panel for the Amazon has received global and regional media coverage and visibility in thanks to our 2021 events, both traditional and social media outreach, as well as the efforts of our authors. Most notably, the Panel had widespread coverage due to our Presentation of Initial Findings during the HLPF and the launch of our Amazon Assessment Report at COP26. Check out our features below:

25 February 2020: Nature – When will the Amazon hit a tipping point?

21 April 2020: Project Syndicate – Getting to Zero Deforestation in the Amazon by 2030

24 July 2020: Open Democracy – La supervivencia de la Amazonía está en juego

24 July 2020: Open Democracy – A sobrevivência da Amazônia está em risco

27 July 2020: Mongabay – Scientists launch ambitious conservation project to save the Amazon

28 July 2020: CNN Brasil – CNN Mundo: impactos ambientais na Amazônia podem mudar futuro do planeta

28 July 2020: People’s World – Scientists form panel in attempt to save Amazon rainforest

31 July 2020: Academia Brasileira de Ciências – A Amazônia Que Queremos

3 August 2020: SciDevNet – Expertos se unen en un panel para preservar la Amazonía

1 August 2020: DW – Conocimiento científico internacional unido para preservar la Amazonia

10 August 2020: El Espectador – La Amazonia que Queremos Necesita la Ciencia

3 August 2020: El Colombiano – Ocho países por la Amazonia

17 September 2020: Valor Econômico – A urgência socioambiental

24 September 2020: Intelligent Living – 150 Scientists Unite To Protect The Amazon And Its People

21 April 2021: Project Syndicate – Getting to Zero Deforestation in the Amazon by 2030

1 July 2021: Mongabay – The conservation gains we’ve made are still fragile, says Aileen Lee of the Moore Foundation

14 July 2021: Reuters – Over 10,000 species risk extinction in Amazon, says landmark report

21 July 2021: World Economic Forum: These are the 10 key actions needed to save the Amazon rainforest, scientists say

31 August 2021: GLF – U.N. science panel releases initial findings of upcoming overview of the Amazon

5 September 2021: Reuters – Indigenous leaders push new target to protect Amazon from deforestation

September 2021: UOL – A Floresta Em Chamas

10 September 2021: Climate Home News – Conservationists back indigenous peoples’ call to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025

20 September 2021: O Globo – Cientistas lançam alerta vermelho para a Amazônia e pedem moratória de desmatamento

21 September 2021: Jornal da Ciencia – Painel científico para a Amazônia lança seu primeiro relatório

22 September 2021: Correio Braziliense – Estudo diz que desmatamento na Amazônia pode ter chegado a ponto irreversível

18 October 2021: EOS – New Report Puts the Amazon Rain Forest on the Main Stage at COP26

18 October 2021: Mongabay – Amazonian ecosystems and peoples on the brink – it is time for a new vision (commentary)

8 November 2021: World Bank – The Amazon we want – and key ideas on how to get there

November 2021: Folha de S Paulo – Brasil atravessa convergência de escolhas equivocadas, diz ecóloga

12 November 2021: UOL – A Amazônia Em Alerta Vermelho

12 November 2021: EOS – Traditional Knowledge Is Essential to Sustainability in the Amazon

12 November 2021: The Guardian – Transform approach to Amazon or it will not survive, warns major report

13 November 2021: The Guardian – COP Goes Into Overtime- In Pictures

13 November 2021: Mirage News – Science Panel for Amazon releases landmark Amazon assessment report 2021

12 November 2021: Valor Econôómico Valor – Painel Científico da Amazônia recomenda embargo imediato para desmate em áreas vulneráveis

14 November 2021: Ojo Público – COP26: La crisis climática necesita de más esfuerzos que los anunciados en Glasgow

15 November 2021: Eurasia Review – Amazon Approaches Catastrophic Potential Tipping Point

12 November 2021: Semana – Amazonia: más de 200 científicos piden protección urgente para esta selva tropical

15 November 2021: Inhabitat – Can the Amazon rainforest survive?

17 November 2021: WWF – Painel Científico para a Amazônia lança Relatório de Avaliação da Amazônia 2021

12 November 2021: O Globo – Brazil Is Affected by A Convergence of Wrong Decisions, Says Scientist

27 November 2021: DW – Científicos latinoamericanos alertan sobre “punto de no retorno” de la Amazonia

7 December 2021: CIRAD – Amazonie : un rapport de référence détaille des mesures concrètes pour lutter contre la déforestation

8 December 2021: New Scientist – The Amazon is turning into savannah – we have 5 years to save it

10 December 2021: The Byte – Amazon Rainforest on the Verge of Becoming a Dry Savannah, Scientists Say

3 January 2022: NCR Online – New report on Amazon Basin offers solutions to repair some damage to the region’s ecosystems

25 January 2022: Los peligros globales de la degradación de la Amazonia

3 February 2022: Japan Times – As forest threats loom, Amazon guardians organize as ‘minigovernments’

16 February 2022: Nuova Ecologia – Amazzonia allo stremo, la nostra inchiesta di gennaio

21 February 2022: Bori – A necessidade de proteger as línguas indígenas amazônicas

23 February 2022: National Geographic – Baniwas apostam na educação ambiental para conservar Amazônia

2 March 2022: Climate Crisis and Deforestation Threaten The Future of the Amazon, Says UN Panel

3 March 2022: “La Amazonía podría acercarse al punto de no retorno”: Panel Científico por la Amazonía

7 March 2022: NY Times – Amazon Is Less Able to Recover From Droughts and Logging, Study Finds

7 March 2022: Washington Post – Satellite images show the Amazon rainforest is hurtling toward a ‘tipping point’

9 March 2022: El Espectador – Amazonia, deforestación, agua y ciencia

10 March 2022: Abori – Precisamos apoiar as mulheres para uma Amazônia Viva

10 March 2022: Neomondo – Precisamos apoiar as mulheres para uma Amazônia Viva

23 March 2022: Más Colombia – Detener el desastre socio-ambiental en la Amazonia es apremiante para la humanidad

25 March 2022: NRC – Nadert de Amazone een kantelpunt van regenwoud naar savanne?

29 March 2022: Amazonia Real – Barragens no rio Jamanxim ameaçam o meio ambiente e os povos indígenas: 2 – Impactos das represas planejadas

1 April 2022: Abori – O potencial dos sistemas agroflorestais para conciliar bem-estar humano e conservação ambiental na Amazônia

8 April 2022: Más Colombia – El potencial de los sistemas agroforestales para conciliar el bienestar humano y la conservación ambiental en la Amazonia

3 May 2022: Abori – Dezenas de milhões de anos de história: dos dinossauros à maior biodiversidade do Planeta

13 May 2022: Reuters – Royal Society Names Climate Scientists First Brazilian Member Since 1800s

Statement on the passing of Dr. E.O. Wilson and Dr. Thomas Lovejoy + Our Commitment

the amazon we want - Science Panel for the Amazon

This week, we are saddened to hear about the passing of two influential leaders in the field of Ecology and Conservation Biology. Dr. E.O. Wilson, often referred to as the ‘modern-day Darwin’, and Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, often referred to as the “godfather of biodiversity”, were scientific giants and influential leaders in shaping how we view the synergistic relationship between the environment and all living things. Both of these leaders fervently lived a life advocating for a more sustainable relationship with our planet and reminding those that depend on it that action is ultimately up to us.

Dr. Wilson once stated that the fate of the planet “is in the hands of the people, of countries, particularly our own, that have the ability to change things.” 

Dr. Lovejoy also stated, “The planet is about to break out with fever, indeed it may already have, and we [human beings] are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles.”

In honor of E.O. Wilson and Dr. Tom Lovejoy’s legacies and urgent calls to action, the Science Panel for the Amazon would like to issue a statement pledging to advance an agenda of science, technology, innovation, conservation, and protecting Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the Amazon, as well as the continuing support for the development of the cadre of young scientists who will carry their legacy forward. We are honored to have had the strategic guidance of Dr. Tom Lovejoy in creating the Science Panel for the Amazon and the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report. While the panel’s work continues, we will draw inspiration from Dr. Lovejoy’s and Dr. Wilson’s legacies as we work to improve scientific innovation in the Amazon, close research gaps, understand processes and patterns of ecosystems, biodiversity and biosphere-atmosphere interactions, and pursue a sustainable Amazon for the sake of the planet and its people. They will undoubtedly inspire our continued work on a productive agenda for science and conservation in the region for many years to come.

Carlos Nobre, Co-Chair, Mercedes Bustamante, SPA Scientific Steering Committee, and Emma Torres, Strategic Coordinator

On behalf of the Science Panel for the Amazon

Statement on the passing of Strategic Committee member Dr. Thomas Lovejoy

Thomas Lovejoy - Science Panel for the Amazon

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and leading member of the Science Panel for the Amazon Strategic Committee, Dr. Thomas Lovejoy. Dr. Lovejoy, often referred to as the “godfather of biodiversity”, was a scientific giant and renowned conservationist who fervently advocated for the environment, in particular the Amazon. Dr. Lovejoy had a long and illustrious career, and his work has shaped the field of conservation biology. Among his many accomplishments, he was the creator and president of the Amazon Biodiversity Center and the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, served on three presidents’ science and environmental councils, and his work was recognized with numerous prestigious honors such as the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the Blue Planet Prize.

The Science Panel for the Amazon is grateful for his strategic involvement in our work and will remember Dr. Lovejoy as a gentle giant, and a tireless champion of Amazonian conservation, and an outstanding accomplished biologist. Dr. Lovejoy was a wonderful and wise contributor to the Science Panel for the Amazon and we greatly valued the expertise he brought to all aspects of our work. The loss of his presence is a profound one, but his contributions to the scientific community will remain influential and long-lasting. We send our condolences to his family and friends at this time.

Carlos Nobre, Co- Chair and Emma Torres, SPA Strategic Coordinator  

On behalf of the Science Panel for the Amazon

To Avert a Tipping Point: Launch of the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report at COP26

Amazon Assessment Report COP26

The event was moderated by Emma Torres and featured Carlos Nobre, Andrea Encalada, Mercedes Bustamante, Marielos Peña-Claros, and Gregorio Mirabal as speakers. During the event, Carlos Nobre spoke on the tipping points in the Amazonian basin, the importance of a moratorium on deforestation and the halting of wildfires, and emphasized that the solutions contained in the report must be implemented immediately. Andrea Encalada discussed connectivity between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems across the entire Amazon Basin, along with solutions for a Living Amazon. Mercedes Bustamante discussed the multi-dimensional aspect of a Living Amazon and the importance of governance and finance for a just transformation.

Marielos Peña-Claros presented the main solutions of the report, emphasizing that there is no single solution to create a Living Amazon, but rather a need for a broad set of initiatives with the participation of Amazonian peoples, and political representation of Amazonian peoples at all levels of governance. Some of the main recommendations include:

  1. Achieve zero deforestation by 2030; annual milestones should be set now and deforestation on old-growth forests immediately halted; there should also be moratoriums for fragile areas or areas that have reached tipping points
  2. Implement measures to conserve, restore and remediate terrestrial and aquatic systems 
  3. Develop an innovative bioeconomy
  4. Strengthen Amazonian citizenship and governance

To achieve these, we need global partnerships for resources and financial investments, implementation of multilateral Amazon coordination, and the halting of illegal activities. Peña-Claros ended with other recommendations, including investing in technology, science, and innovation; global action on climate change; and better governance of supply chains.

Gregorio Mirabal addressed the crowd saying, “We entered the SPA because we wanted to position ourselves alongside science, while reaffirming that the Amazon is our house. We have lived here for thousands of years and it is a living thing with a spirit, in 9 countries. To save the Amazon, we need to work in those 9 countries without discrimination. … I have seen that the authors of this report understood this; that we need to all work together and that we need to work with the governments. We have seen in this report that it is possible to build an economy that respects the trees and the spirit of the Amazon. It calls for a transformation and a new vision for the economy. This means working with you and making sure the resources promised at COP26 really arrive in the territories. This is why we ask you to please listen and let’s take action on what this report says, and implement the recommendations. This report ia a scientific and Indigenous effort and it is a voice of the Indigenous; not only the Amazon’s Indigenous peoples but all Amazonian peoples. Respect the work that has been done in this report and I ask that governments review it and that they call on the Indigenous peoples and the Science Panel for the Amazon to actually implement solutions because we don’t have a lot of time left.”

Several of the report’s authors offered comments from the floor. Ane Alencar spoke on the importance of emphasizing diversity in a myriad of ways; in ecological systems, social systems, economies, and cultures, saying this is what the Panel brings, and that “the way the report was built, it brings the best scientific evidence of how and why diversity is important.”

Jos Barlow spoke on the importance of degradation saying that carbon emissions from degradation could be even higher or as high as emissions from deforestation. Degradation is also causing biodiversity loss and possible extinction at almost the same rate as deforestation. Some of the solutions he shared were tackling illegal timber markets, improving pasture management, working closely with traditional peoples to improve slash and burn techniques, and setting restoration targets.

The State Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of Para (Brazil), Mauro O’de Almeida, also gave his thoughts on the importance of the report from a regional perspective and called for greater collaborations between Amazonian territories.

The event ended with a Q&A session addressing questions about the solutions in detail and the future of the Science Panel for the Amazon. The findings of the report were covered by The Guardian, O Globo, and Ojo Publico, among others. 

View our July event where members of the Strategic Committee discussed the initial findings here.

Statement of Science Panel for the Amazon on The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use

the amazon we want - Science Panel for the Amazon

NEW YORK (November  2,  2021) – The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) welcomes The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use made today at COP26. The SPA as stated in its 2021 Amazon Assessment Report 2021urges decision-makers and all stakeholders to act now and recommends an immediate deforestation moratorium in areas that are already nearing tipping points, and to achieve zero deforestation and forest degradation in the entire Amazon region before 2030. Besides governments commitments, the pledges of companies and industries to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from their supply chains are of critical relevance. The SPA welcomes the commitment to support Indigenous peoples and local communities in defense of their traditional territories and to conserve and restore natural ecosystems. The SPA also proposes that substantial financial resources are mobilized to advance sustainable pathways for the Amazon, including the implementation of a healthy standing forests and flowing rivers bioeconomy. The SPA Report will be launched on November 12th at COP 26 at 2:00pm (GMT+1) and you can register to attend virtually here


The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) is convened under the auspices of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and was established after the leaders of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Peru, and Suriname signed the Leticia Pact for the Amazon, in September 2019. The agreement commits the governments of the seven nations to conserve the Amazon and its biodiverse treasures. It highlights the importance of research, technology, and knowledge management to guide decision-making vis-à-vis the Amazon. The hallmark of the SPA Report  is its engagement with multiple voices in the co-design and generation of knowledge. You can read more at


Isabella Leite, (Portuguese) 

Catherine Williams: (Spanish & English)  

Amazon Assessment Report Launch November 12

Este evento se llevará a cabo en inglés y español. Para obtener información en español, haga clic aquí.

On November 12, 2021, in an official side event of the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) will launch its first Amazon Assessment Report.

Attend in-person ———- Join remotely

To avert a tipping point: Launch of the Amazon assessment report

November 12, 2021 | 14:00 to 15:00 GMT | 9:00 to 10:00 EDT | More Time Zones


The SPA, composed of over 200 experts from across Latin America and the world, has completed work on an unprecedented, comprehensive assessment of the state of the Amazon Basin, current trends, and policy relevant considerations for the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem and its peoples. The Panel’s recommendations aim to promote conservation and advance sustainable development pathways for the region, with a vision of a healthy, standing forest and flowing rivers.

Its 34 chapters make recommendations to avert a tipping point and preserve globally-important ecosystem services. They include (i) an immediate moratorium on deforestation in areas nearing a tipping point, (ii) zero deforestation in the basin by 2030, (iii) restoration of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and (iv) promotion of a sustainable bioeconomy based on traditional knowledge, science, technology, and innovation.

Join the Launch Event in Person in Glasgow

We welcome COP26 delegates to join us in person! You do not need to register in advance to attend the event in person. This event will take place within the WWF #PandaHub pavilion, located in Hall 4 in the Blue Zone. Participants must already have UNFCCC accreditation for access.

Join the Launch Event Remotely via Zoom

Join this event from anywhere in the world with an internet connection! Please register in advance to join via Zoom. This event will also stream live on WWF’s Climate and Energy YouTube.

Statement On The Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention On Biological Diversity

Science Panel for the Amazon COP15

Statement On The Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention On Biological Diversity

The Amazon is home to a remarkable share of known global biodiversity, including 22% of the vascular plant species, 14% of the bird species, 9% of the mammal species, 8% of the amphibian species, and 18% of the fish species found in the Tropics. In parts of the Andes and the Amazonian lowlands, a single gram of soil may contain more than 1,000  fungi species. Endemism is high in the Amazonian lowlands, with around 34% of mammal species, 20% of bird species, and 58% of freshwater fish species found nowhere else on Earth. Scientists describe new species in the Amazon at the extraordinary rate of one every other day, as most taxonomic groups are still poorly known.

The extraordinary number of languages found in the Amazon has meaning. The more than 300 languages that exist in the Amazon today are a consequence of its outstanding biodiversity, as languages express biocultural connections which have co-evolved over time. When languages are lost, we also lose valuable ancestral knowledge accumulated over generations.

The  Amazon’s mega diverse ecosystems are critically important for mitigating climate change but remain threatened by destructive development. Approximately 17% of Amazonian forests have been converted to other land uses, and at least an additional 17%  have been degraded. Land-use changes exacerbate global climate change through feedback mechanisms that reduce forest resilience. They also increase drought stress and fire risk, cause higher tree mortality, turn the Amazon from a carbon sink to source, and could ultimately reach a tipping point beyond which continuous forests can no longer exist and are replaced by permanent, degraded ecosystems. These cascading effects would have tremendous impacts on climate and, in turn, water supply, agriculture, hydropower generation, and human health and well-being, especially in and around the Amazon.

Human-induced disturbances (e.g., wildfires, deforestation, and degradation) and climate change act synergistically, amplifying their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Deforestation and degradation may reduce evapotranspiration by 30%  or more, increasing surface temperatures. Some regions are more likely to be affected by the synergistic effects of deforestation, degradation, and climate change than others; the eastern Amazon may lose up to 95%  of forest cover by 2050,  followed by the southwestern (81%) and southern Amazon (78%). Furthermore, deforestation, degradation and climate change interact to significantly increase fire risk and the prevalence of forest fires. Biodiversity loss is not only a problem in itself; it also has knock-on effects on critical ecosystem functions and services, such as pollination.

We must announce a  code red for the Amazon.  Saving existing forest and aquatic resources from continued deforestation and degradation and restoring ecosystems is one of the most urgent tasks of our time. We must conserve the Amazon and its people and address the global risks and impacts of climate change. Alternative and sustainable development pathways can support people and nature; these need to be integrated into regional and national policies.

The Science Panel for the Amazon, composed of over 200 scientists, calls for:

I) An immediate moratorium on deforestation in areas that are approaching tipping points, and zero deforestation and degradation across the region by 2030.  Stopping deforestation,  degradation, and wildfires in less than a decade is challenging but achievable.

II) The maintenance of at least 80% of forests standing – crucial to avoiding a potential tipping point and the loss of resilience.

III) Integrated,  transboundary basin management,  ensuring connectivity between the Amazon’s diverse ecosystems.

IV) Restoration and remediation of forests and aquatic ecosystems.  To safeguard the ecological integrity of the Amazon, it is not only necessary to cease loss and degradation of natural resources and consolidate protected areas,  but also to restore and remediate terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

V) Advance a transformative, sustainable development path in the Amazon by promoting a new bioeconomy that values healthy,  standing forests and flowing rivers; preserves nature and the traditional activities of forest peoples; and increases prosperity by building a diversified economy. This requires halting illegal activities and environmental crime, strengthening the value chains of biodiversity products by merging scientific and traditional knowledge,  and reducing information asymmetry.  These actions ensure sustainability,  transparency,  and accountability throughout supply chains,  stimulating entrepreneurship and investment.  Investing in education,  science, technology, and innovation is paramount.

VI) Decision-making at the local, national, regional, and global level is informed by scientific evidence and reliable data, as highlighted by the Leticia Pact for the Amazon.

VII) Secure the land rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities  (IPLCs) and increase their participation in decision making. IPLCs play a critical role in the sustainable use and conservation of Amazonian biodiversity, holding long-term, experiential knowledge of agricultural, aquatic, and agroforestry systems. Guaranteeing the territorial rights and self-determination of  Indigenous peoples and local communities is among the most important strategies for protecting biodiversity and biocultural landscapes in the Amazon.

The Amazon is a vital ecosystem for the entire planet and a part of humanity’s irreplaceable heritage. Its stewardship rests first and foremost with the nations of the Amazon, but this responsibility must be shared globally. Sustainable development pathways must be shaped and implemented by Amazonian countries and supported by nations everywhere. Financial support should be mobilized from advanced economies, as they have a deep responsibility both as buyers of products from areas with deforestation and for their accumulated greenhouse gas emissions.

SPA/ UN SDSN Contacts:
Catherine Williams:
Kamsha R. Maharaj:
For Portuguese-speaking, please contact:
Isabella Leite,