SPA Event: The Amazon as a Bioeconomy Superpower: Investing in Innovation & Technology for Sustainable Development
On September 16th, alongside the opening of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA), in collaboration with the UN Science Summit, organized an event, The Amazon as a Bioeconomy Superpower: Investing in Innovation & Technology for Sustainable Development. The aim of this session was to create awareness of the potential for a bioeconomy of standing forests and flowing rivers in the Amazon, leveraged by investments in science, technology, and innovation as called for in SDG 9.
The coming years are crucial for saving Amazon. While many see conservation goals in conflict with economic growth, our speakers presented data and case studies showing that this is not true. Investing in research and technology today can promote the sustainable use of resources in the long term, and build a vibrant, inclusive, knowledge-based economy of new products and services that can be produced from standing forests. This requires building the region’s research capacity and disseminating scientific knowledge to key stakeholder groups. The Amazon has the potential to be a superpower, if investments in science and technology are prioritized, and can be a catalyst for sustainable development in the region.
The speakers included Dr. Liliana Dávalo (SPA Author and Professor at the State University of New York at Stonybrook), Dr. Carlos Nobre (SPA Co-Chair and Senior Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of Sao Paulo), Ms. Belén Paez (SPA Lead Author and Founder and Director of Fundación Pachamama), Ms. Maria Paiva (Executive Vice President of Sustainability with Vale), and Dr. Adalberto Val (SPA Science Steering Committee member and Senior Researcher at the Brazilian Institute for Research of the Amazon), with moderation provided by Ms. Lauren Barredo (Chief of Staff at Sustainable Development Solutions Network).
Emma Torres, the SPA Strategic Coordinator, started the event by emphasizing the theme of the event stating, “There is potential for the Amazon to be an engine of growth and sustainability for the region. This requires mobilization and investment.”
Liliana Dávalos reflected on the potential of genomics to bring about a new bioeconomy adapted to the Amazonian reality and what it means for conservation. She presented the consideration of how genomics can help conservation and ensure redistribution of benefits covered in the Convention of Biological Diversity. She gave the example of Costa Rica, a country with high biodiversity levels, that invested heavily in genomics but the program, unfortunately, did not succeed. How, then, can we be successful?
To connect genomics to relevant real-life case studies, Dr. Davalos used the example of the spike protein of COVID-19 that was made publicly available in January 2020. Because of this public information, we had vaccines by May of 2020; however, the vaccines themselves are private and not public. It is important to consider how the global health crisis could have been worse if the spike protein information had not been made public. This example illustrates how genome research has become a resource frontier and that we need to work to ensure benefits are shared equitably with stakeholders. She added that, unlike the destruction of the forest, knowledge of genomics in the Amazon is a renewable resource, so a knowledge economy can benefit conservation if we enforce traceability through stakeholder-driven genomics. She concluded by saying that “The ability for genomics to deliver benefits is great thanks to new technology and only through stakeholder-driven genomics can we support conservation.”
Adalberto Val showed the magnitude of the size of the Amazon and its impact on the global water cycle, supplying 20% of the freshwater that enters oceans worldwide. Dr. Val presented the unique characteristics of the Amazon, including the over 1,000 aquatic plants it contains. He presented case studies on drivers of degradation, including mining and fires, and advocated for investments in science and technology, training, and social inclusion in the region as a solution. Dr. Val highlighted the importance of investing in ST&I with the discovery of new compounds and their applications (e.g., bark of Ellipticine used for antimalarial drugs), in uncovering new viral risks that could lead to pandemics, and ensuring food security.
He discussed that, despite this astonishing biodiversity, there is an incredibly low amount of investment in the region. The world average investment in science and technology/research and development is 2.6%; however, in Brazil it is only 1% of GDP.
He stated, “We need $1.6 billion to protect 1.3 million square kilometers in the Amazon. If you compare the budget of NASA, which is $25 billion dollars, the Amazon only needs 10% of their budget to be protected. All we are asking is that we invest in the knowledge we already have in order to produce new technologies, which will contribute to conservation, climate change, and social inclusion. Training is the key way to conservation and social inclusion in the Amazon.”
Dr. Val ended his presentation by stating that bioeconomy value chains could also help connect people to the forest for a better life, being important for social inclusion.
Ms. Paiva spoke on Vale’s environmental and social commitment and investments in the Amazon bioeconomy and research. She spoke on Vale’s unique models of sustainable mining and how they are able to have a competitive business in the biome, while still preserving the forest, ensuring that flora, fauna, and people live and thrive. Some of Vale’s initiatives are in science and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, market development, support services, capital offerings, and developing local ecosystems. There are also programs with genetic and genomic mapping of the Amazon biome and programs of environmental monitoring and bioeconomy initiatives that create economic development in local communities. She expanded on Vale’s commitment to prioritize scalable and systemic impact solutions and contribute to global and public goals. She concluded by stating that “it’s important to act in partnership to leverage and accelerate initiatives amongst private partners, academia, civil society, and governments.”
Carlos Nobre presented the challenge of turning the Amazon into a bioeconomy superpower. He emphasized the importance of turning greenwashing into an actual Amazonian Green Deal inspired by the ones in the US and Europe. Currently, 18% of the Amazon basin is deforested with an additional 17% degraded. According to Nobre, one of the most worrying statistics identified is the lengthening of the dry season in the Amazon, which is currently 4-5 weeks longer than it has been in 40 years.
He also stated that reaching deforestation of 20-25% can lead us to a tipping point and we are already at 18%. Global warming is inducing more frequent extreme droughts in the Amazon on top of deforestation, degradation, and wildfires, which all are pushing the Amazon to a tipping point. He emphasized, “We are at the edge of this tipping point so we have to act.” Dr. Nobre also called attention to another shocking statistic, stating that since 2016 the southwestern part of the Amazon has become a carbon source, even during the wet season.
Dr. Nobre presented the current risks from the impacts and emphasized that in order to keep the targets of the global Paris Climate Agreement, total emissions should be kept at 400 billion, however, with the loss of the Amazon alone, that would emit more than 300 billion tons of CO2.
He highlighted SPA’s key recommendations: 1. An immediate moratorium on deforestation and degradation in areas reaching a tipping point, 2) zero deforestation and degradation in the entire basin by 2030, 3) conservation and restoration at scale, and 4) a new bioeconomy of standing forests and flowing rivers, emphasizing the need for government commitments. He discussed an upcoming SPA publication that will propose an arc of restoration where there is currently an arc of deforestation. This is an important tool because 1 hectare of recovered forest removes between 11-18 tons of CO2 . He ended by presenting how over 500,000 families moved from poverty to middle-income thanks to bioeconomy initiatives, the challenges of implementing a successful bioeconomy, and how despite the challenges, the bioeconomy has the potential to be even larger than traditional economies that drive deforestation.
Belén Paez ended the panel by discussing how our current economic model is one of death and that we urgently need to transition to one of life through a bioeconomy. Through her work in Ecuador and Peru with Fundación Pachamama, she has seen how a bioeconomy can be a superpower in the region. However, she stressed that their work would not be possible without partnerships with Indigenous communities. Fundación Pachamama worked with 25 Indigenous Nations to develop innovative Amazonian value chains based on the principles of fair trade and zero deforestation which promote community well-being.
One example of their work is the vanilla value chain, which has reached over $40 million in revenue in the past year. Through their Forest Economies Programs they create value chains with vanilla, cinnamon, morete, guayusa, and ecotourism. She presented the Kapawi Ecolodge of the Achuar peoples, an award-winning Indigenous community ecotourism enterprise that stopped oil development in their territory by showing the government that their income exceeded the government budget for potential oil projects. She discussed other examples of economies of life as opposed to those of destruction, and concluded her presentation by emphasizing that any bioeconomy project should include safeguards that involve the full participation of stakeholders and ensure that they are the beneficiaries.
The program concluded with a Q&A, covering topics from data conservation, Indigenous inclusion and carbon markets, sustainable private sector initiatives, and inclusive and sustainable green infrastructure.
Rewatch the event here and view the full presentation slides here:
Jeffrey Sachs and SPA Members gather for The Amazon We Want: Science Based Pathways for a Sustainable, Inclusive, and Resilient Amazon
On September 15th, alongside the opening of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) organized an event, The Amazon We Want: Science Based Pathways for a Sustainable, Inclusive, and Resilient Amazon. In light of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, the Science Panel for the Amazon gathered to cover the state of the Amazon since the launch of their landmark Amazon Assessment Report at COP26, what is at stake with the loss of the Amazon, and solutions that can catalyze sustainable development. The speakers included Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (SPA Convener and President of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network), Dr. Carlos Nobre (SPA Co-Chair and Senior Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of Sao Paulo), Dr. Dolors Armenteras (SPA Co-Chair and Professor at the National University of Colombia), Dr. Marina Hirota (SPA Lead Author and Professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina), and Dr. Adalberto Val (SPA Science Steering Committee member and Senior Researcher at the Brazilian Institute for Research of the Amazon), with moderation provided by Ms. Ilona Szabó de Carvalho (Co-founder and President of the Igarape Institute).
Jeffrey Sachs highlighted the motivation behind the establishment of the SPA, which began with the 2019 fires and the subsequent adoption of the Leticia Pact. He emphasized the importance of decision makers utilizing the data behind the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report, compiled by the top scientists in the world, and how policy needs to reflect the data, stating that goals should be practical and achievable. According to Prof. Sachs, “We need to put our knowledge to work to solve problems and set goals on the value, ethics, and the future we want…Most of us don’t know critical things and the scientists that do are often not asked. We need the science to create long-term pathways. Sustainable development depends on systems thinking and a set of principles for the kind of future we want on this planet. And the pillars of sustainable development are material well-being for people, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and peace and cooperation. Luckily, it seems that the decision makers in the Amazon are open to hearing the data and luckily the Science Panel for the Amazon is leading the way.”
Ilona Szabó thanked Jeffrey Sachs for his points and noted that “if we haven’t paid attention enough as a society, COVID-19 and climate change have shown us how fundamental science is, so let’s work to increase the public policy-science interface.”
Carlos Nobre began his presentation by noting that “more than 95% of the people living in the Amazon want to protect the forest, so the big challenge is why, for the political systems of the Amazonian countries, their policies do not reflect the Amazon we want.”. For some, the Amazon was viewed as a “green hell” and the forest was portrayed as an obstacle to development. For Indigenous peoples and local communities, however, it is considered a “green paradise”. Dr. Nobre detailed the rich diversity of the Amazon, which contains more than 13% of the world’s plant and vertebrate species.
Dr. Nobre continued with data on the Amazon as a key player in the global carbon cycle – being key for global climate stabilization, hydrology, and water recycling, as well as cultural and ethnic diversity. Science stands with IPLCs showing that the Amazon is indeed a “green paradise” for planet Earth in many aspects.
Dolors Armenteras reminded participants that ⅔ of the Amazon is in Brazil and ⅓ is distributed through seven other countries and one national territory, as it is important to consider the differences in politics, history, diversity, and policies in those countries. It is also an important reminder that what happens in the northwest of the Amazon is important for the whole system to work. Dr. Armenteras focused on the data behind the many threats that the Amazon is facing, with the largest impact being deforestation, driven mostly by agricultural expansion. Other drivers include illicit crops, mining, oil infrastructure, and dams. The impacts of these threats include increasing the region’s temperature by 3 degrees, altering water cycling resulting in a 19% reduction of rainfall in the region, and increases in CO2 emissions, including from burned Amazonian forests. Studies show that if an area is affected by fire once, you still have 20% less carbon stored there 30 years later, even if the area is allowed to recover. These impacts also produce short- and long-term human effects, including health issues related to forest fires, and increase the risk of the Amazon becoming a hotspot of viral outbreaks. She also highlighted one important solution, which is international dialogue and presenting this data and informing people on the connection between international demand for commodities and deforestation and degradation in the Amazon.
Marina Hirota continued with the macroeffects of these impacts: the tipping points in Amazonian ecosystems. Dr. Hirota presented a map of rainfall-related tipping points, at risk of losing a forest state, even without factoring in the other impacts Dr. Armenteras presented.
She addressed the question ‘how far are we from reaching the tipping point‘? What we know is that the climate has been changing within the Amazonian limits and in different ways. Disturbances are highly heterogeneous, as well as forest responses and changes in composition and structure. We are seeing many changes already, and it’s due to a puzzle of many intersecting factors and the potential projections depend on the disturbances. We should take a precautionary approach, since shifts at any scale can cause tremendous damage to communities, countries, and the planet.
Adalberto Val began by emphasizing that the only path forward is by considering the connectivity of the whole region. The Amazon was formed over 65 million years, following the uplift of the Andes. Its history includes significant tectonic and climactic changes, and the adaptations developed to face these variations are written in native species’ genomes. In other words, many of the solutions to climate adaptation are in the history of these genomes. If we burn their environment, we lose this information. The Amazon is a goldmine for the better living of the region’s population and to the entire humanity. The compounds and forms of adaptation in the Amazon are valuable sources of information. Another example is the pirarucu fish, which grows to 15 kilos in its first year of life; understanding how it accomplishes this could be important to ensure food security in the region.
Using the information hidden in the Amazon and technology is highly important for sustainable, inclusive solutions. A dynamic and collaborative model with investments in science and technology should be pursued, and that is the aim of the Amazon Institute of Technology (AmIT), currently in the feasibility assessment phase.
We can envision the Amazon river as an artery of knowledge, through dynamic and collaborative models. Education, science and technology is the only way to protect the natural resources and ensure a better quality of life for riverine and forest populations of the Amazon.
The event ended with a Q&A that covered the role of private markets and of Indigenous peoples and local communities. You can re-watch the event here and view the presentation slides here:
PCA en La V Cumbre Amazónica de Pueblos Indígenas
La semana pasada, La V Cumbre Amazónica de Pueblos Indígenas: Soluciones por una Amazonía Viva, reunió a los actores más importantes para encontrar soluciones que protejan el 80 por ciento de la Amazonía para 2025. Este evento estuvo liderado por los Pueblos Indígenas y es una poderosa herramienta para lograr un objetivo en común- una Amazonía Viva. Este espacio ofrece dos oportunidades para trabajar juntos hacia la creación de una Amazonía mejorada. La Cumbre de la Amazonía, que se llevó a cabo los días 5 y 6 de septiembre, permitió que representantes de organismos gubernamentales, aliados estratégicos, académicos, científicos y la comunidad internacional se unieran y propusieran soluciones para una Amazonía viva. El XI Congreso, del 7 al 9 de septiembre, permitió la participación de delegaciones oficiales de las organizaciones vascas y ayudará a fortalecer la estructura organizativa.
Durante un evento paralelo, presentaron “La Amazonía a contrarreloj: Un diagnóstico regional sobre dónde y cómo proteger 80% para 2025” donde una autora del PCA, Carmen Josse, presentó sobre el Informe de evaluación de la Amazonía 2021 y el panel. Algunas conclusiones y soluciones que presentó fueron:
- Alrededor de 137 especies se extinguen cada día
- La inmensidad de la Amazonía es solo su biodiversidad, sino también los ámbitos culturales y sociales
- La Amazonía alberga alrededor de 6,000 territorios Indígenas y áreas protegidas
- A pesar de que estas áreas cubren 56% de la Amazonía, en 20 años, solo 14% de la deforestación y degradación ocurrió en estas tierras
- La Amazonía es aproximadamente 1,2°c más caliente que el promedio global, el cual es 1,1°c. y con más del 90% de las especies expuestas a temperaturas sin precedentes.
- Esto produce una cascada de efectos que está llevando a la región a un punto de no retorno el cual tendría efectos en el clima, la biodiversidad, la agricultura y en la salud y el bienestar de los humanos.
- Es necesario implementar las soluciones que recomienda el panel, y enfatizó 2 de sus 4 soluciones: 1) la restauración y regeneración y 2) una bioeconomía que debe ser adaptada, con inversiones en ciencia e innovación en la región.
También participó un miembro del Comité Estratégico, Gregorio Mirabal, quien habló de la importancia de una comprensión mutua entre los científicos para poder defender mejor la tierra como lo ha hecho este Panel. “Aquí tenemos que tomar decisiones fuertes porque si queremos una Amazonía Viva y poder defenderla, necesitamos un plan no solo de nosotros los pueblos Indígenas, pero también con científicos y un plan para cada parte de la Amazonía. Tenemos que avanzar porque la única otra opción es seguir hacia el punto de no retorno.”
Esta Cumbre ofrece conocimiento importante y urgente para los políticos que pronto se reunirán para la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas y la Conferencia de las Partes de la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático (COP27). Puede acceder a la grabación del evento aquí.
SPA Holds a High-Level Political Forum Event on Recovery in the Amazon
On July 7th, 2022, the Science Panel for the Amazon held an official UN HLPF event titled “A Green and Inclusive Recovery in the Amazon”. SPA authors André Baniwa, Liliana Dávalos, Andrés Lescano, and SPA Co-Chair Carlos Nobre presented their perspectives on the link between deforestation and disease, the risks of future pandemics in the Amazon, and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the Amazon.
The Amazon is one of the regions most affected by the COVID-19 crisis and has also long been approaching a tipping point of no return. The region’s ecosystem services are threatened, which could lead to major humanitarian and environmental crises, including future pandemics and catastrophic global climate change impacts. This HLPF side event highlighted how the Amazon region and Indigenous communities have been affected, and discussed potential solutions to build resilience, avoid future pandemics and irreversible tipping points, and advance sustainable development pathways—including restoration, investments in science, technology, innovation, and bioeconomy.
Dr. Lescano’s presentation specifically detailed the links between deforestation and other vectorborne epidemics, such as Chagas disease, and the main drivers behind deforestation and degradation including agriculture, mining, and logging. The public health impact of COVID-19 was discussed, as well as the high mortality rates in Peru. Dr. Lescano highlighted that a large percentage of the Amazon region was unable to protect themselves from the virus. The main impacts found in the Amazon region following COVID-19 were: magnified poverty, inequities, and disparities; increased social and public health vulnerabilities; increased mistrust in governments and public health systems; and increased overall vulnerability to the impacts of COVID-19. Dr. Lescano highlighted the importance of looking at the issues holistically, stating, “It’s important to be able to restore not just ecological balance but also the public health balance and addressing inequities that this ecological disruption generates. It’s not just about the nature, it’s also about the human lives in the region.”Dr. Dávalos presented about the land-use changes in the Amazon and how it puts the region at risk for future pandemics. She specifically highlighted the endemic small mammals, rodents, and bats that exist in the Western Amazon region and the impact that climate change has on their displacement and thus, allowing viruses to present a bigger threat. A map of patterns of diversity in COVID-19 hosts showed just how rich the diversity in the Amazon is, making the risk of future pandemics there potentially much greater. Dr. Dávalos stated, “Sooner or later our luck will run out. That is why I advocate strengthening the ability to diagnose. We need Amazonian knowledge & tools in the hands of Amazonian peoples to stop the next pandemic.” The presentation ended by showing data on how viruses undermine conservation policy and giving examples of how lack of protection in the Amazon is incredibly risky and has resulted in violence towards forest defenders.
Dr. Carlos Nobre then presented an overview of the Science Panel for the Amazon, why it is so vital for the region, and SPA’s key messages and recommendations. An overview of the region and its connection to the water cycle and global climate system was presented as well as the data behind the tipping points the area is reaching. Dr. Nobre ended by detailing the solutions and key actions presented in the report including a moratorium in the areas reaching a tipping point, zero deforestation and degradation, restoration of ecosystems, and investment into science, technology and a new bioeconomy.
Lastly, Indigenous leader André Baniwa gave his perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities and the investments needed for an inclusive recovery. He spoke on how hard the COVID-19 pandemic was for Indigenous communities, specifically the high death toll on the population. He stated that for COVID-19 recovery and economic transformation in Indigenous communities, investments in Indigenous products and market research and infrastructure is needed. He emphasizes that there is potential to open a new kind of market inside their communities with proper investments. He ended on an optimistic note, expressing that the new administration in Colombia and possibly Brazil offer an opportunity to renew commitments and enact new policies for the protection of the Amazon.
The event ended with a lively Q&A discussion between the panelists expanding further on their presentations. If you missed the event and would like to rewatch it, you can watch it on our youtube channel.
Statement on the Occasion of the 9th Summit of the Americas
NEW YORK, JUNE 8 2022 | From June 6 to 10, 2022, leaders from across the region gathered in Los Angeles, USA, for the 9th Summit of the Americas. This occasion represents an opportunity for countries of the Americas to reiterate our shared values and vision for a peaceful, sustainable, and inclusive region, and reaffirm our commitment to uphold the human rights of all, promote the rule of law, and accelerate conservation efforts to protect our natural resources and the well-being of our societies.
The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) calls upon leaders at the summit to act urgently and ambitiously to conserve the Amazon basin, which represents an incredible share of our human and natural heritage. The Amazon provides critical ecosystem services, including rainfall and climate stability, carbon storage, and removal. However, increased exploitation and accelerating deforestation and forest degradation threaten to push the Amazon past a tipping point beyond which recovery may be impossible. The Panel’s 2021 Amazon Assessment Report calls for an immediate deforestation and forest degradation moratorium in areas nearing tipping points across the southern and southeastern Amazon and zero deforestation and forest degradation in the entire Amazon region before 2030. It also proposes massive investments in ecosystem restoration and in science, technology, and innovation to create a large-scale “Reforestation Belt” across Amazonian countries. Such a program will preserve the Amazon rainforest and combat the climate emergency. This will require government policies and commitments, corporate action to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from supply chains, and the work of civil society organizations and responsible leadership from our policy makers.
Equally important is the need to recognize and value the irreplaceable role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in the defense of their traditional territories and the conservation of natural ecosystems. The SPA report shows unequivocally that Indigenous territories have the lowest levels of deforestation, but currently are under increasing pressure from extractive industries. Some of the countries in the Americas also face the highest rates of homicide among human rights activists and environmental advocates, and strengthening the rule of law, justice, and commitments to peace is critical in achieving the sustainable development goals and greater prosperity.
The SPA also recommends that substantial financial resources be mobilized to advance sustainable pathways for the Amazon, including the implementation of a healthy standing forests and flowing rivers bioeconomy. This includes significant investment in science, innovation, and technology, to increase capacity for research and development of new products and processes and the organization of fair markets. This offers an opportunity for all countries to work together on joint research initiatives, training the next generation of entrepreneurs through fellowships and exchange programs, and building the skills and competencies of Amazonian institutions. This will strengthen the economy across the Americas, increase competitiveness, and build greater resiliency in the face of multiple crises. Our region is also severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, demanding programs to increase resiliency, strengthen collaboration, and reduce inequality.
As we approach COP27, where countries will start implementing commitments such as the Global Forest Finances Pledge; the second meeting of COP15; and as scientists warn of the “sixth mass extinction”, it is a crucial moment to invest in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework in the Americas. In order to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve recovery by 2050, we must encourage countries to work together to adopt targets that are measurable, science-based, and outcome-oriented, and invest in solutions, not only for the many benefits to the Americas but also the entire planet. The Amazon, as the most biodiverse region in the world and a crucial component in the global climate cycle, should be a critical priority for all leaders at this year’s Summit.
Carlos Nobre, Mercedes Bustamante, and Emma Torres, on behalf of the Science Panel for the Amazon
######## END ########
REQUESTS FOR INTERVIEWS AND INFORMATION:
Isabella Leite, email@example.com (Portuguese)
Catherine Williams: Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org (Spanish & English)
For more information, please visit:
The Academy of Sciences of Ecuador and Science Panel for the Amazon virtual event
On May 26th, the Science Panel for the Amazon held a joint virtual event with the Academy of Sciences of Ecuador on the theme of sustainable development in the Amazon. The event focused primarily on a presentation of the main conclusions and recommendations of the SPA 2021 Amazon Assessment Report, also addressing, among other things, the impacts of mining and oil exploration on biodiversity and aquatic resources and on the people who live in the Amazon basin. SPA scientists also further elaborated on possible sustainable development pathways for the Amazon.
At the event, SPA Co-chair Carlos Nobre opened the event with welcoming remarks. Keynote speaker Dr. Ángel Guevara, President of the Academy of Sciences of Ecuador then presented on “Leadership of the scientific community in promoting a research and innovation agenda in the Amazon”. Dr. Andrea Encalada then moderated a panel discussing “The impacts of mining and oil on biodiversity and culture” where Dr. Carlos Mena and Dr. Carlos Larrea presented key findings. Dr. Juan Manuel Guayasamin moderated the second panel focused on “Sustainable Solutions and the challenges to overcome” where Dr. Belén Páez and Dr. María Rosa Murmis presented key recommendations. SPA Strategic Coordinator Emma Torres made closing remarks on the importance of strong partnerships in the Amazon region between scientists and investing in science in the region.
The event was the first in a series of dialogues with Academies of Science in the region and was held in Spanish. You can view recordings and details of the full conference on the Science Panel for the Amazon youtube channel.
Global Columbia Collaboratory: The Amazon Region We Want
The Science Panel for the Amazon is excited to partner with Columbia University this summer to hold a Global Columbia Collaboratory that provides a small group of students with a virtual forum for learning about Amazonian issues from international experts and peers around the world.
During the Summer 2022 Global Columbia Collaboratory students will learn from sustainability experts, preeminent scientists, and local Amazon activist-practitioners about the current state of the Amazon ecosystem, it’s peoples and communities.
Through four seminars given by experts and locals in the field, small group meetings, and a collaborative project as a deliverable, students will reflect, ideate, and collaborate to learn, discuss, and raise awareness about the state of the Amazon region – all 100% virtually! However, we are also making the four seminars available for the general public to view and attend as well! Register in the link provided and follow along this summer as SPA authors present an overview of the landmark 2021 Amazon Assessment Report: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_D7Ahg4CeTUunF0OjFCQvxw
Global Seminar 1
- June 13, 10:00 – 11:30 AM [GMT-4]
- Global Seminar: Introduction and Course Launch: “The Amazon We Want”
Scientific authorities session
This session will give students an overview of the state of the Amazon ecosystem, current trends, and their implications for the long-term well-being of the region, as well as opportunities and policy relevant options for conservation and sustainable development.
- Jeffrey D. Sachs (Columbia University and SDSN) can’t stay the whole time
- Emma Torres (SDSN)
- Carlos Nobre (Instituto de Estudos Avançados, Universidade de São Paulo)
- Andrea Encalada (Universidad de San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador)
- Moderator: Tom Trebat (Columbia Global Centers, Rio)
- Reading: SPA Executive Summary (English / Portuguese / Spanish)
Global Seminar 2
- June 23, 10:00 – 11:30 AM [GMT-4] (week 3 of course)
- Global Seminar: The Amazon as a Regional Entity of the Earth System
This session will provide the students with an opportunity to understand how the geodiversity of the Amazon has evolved over three billion years of history.
- Juan Guayasamin (Ecuador, Biodiversity)
- German Poveda (Colombia, Biosphere-Atmosphere interactions)
- Thiago Cardoso (Brazil, Peoples of the Amazon)
- Moderator: Lauren Barredos (Science Panel for the Amazon)
Global Seminar 3
- June 27, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. [GMT-4] (week 4 of course)
- Global Seminar: Land Use, Climate and Demographic Changes in the Amazon and Their Impacts on Biodiversity, Ecological Processes, Ecosystem Services, and Human Wellbeing
This session presents the major ideas, actors, and practices that have shaped the Amazon’s current development and deforestation dynamics. It highlights how Amazonians have continuously adapted to changing circumstances while fighting to advance their own proposals for conservation and equity in development.
- Susanna Hecht (USA, development dynamics in the Amazon)
- Erika Berenguer (Brazil, impacts and drivers of deforestation and degradation)
- Marina Hirota (Brazil, tipping points)
- Moderator: Tom Trebat (Columbia Global Centers, Rio)
Global Seminar 4
- July 7, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. [GMT-4] (week 5 of course)
- Global Seminar: The Solution Space: Finding Sustainable Pathways for the Amazon
Developing a clear vision is the central starting point for any action plan. This session reviews the main visions regarding the Amazon and proposes a Living Amazon Vision based on a set of values, principles, and knowledge systems described throughout the chapter.
- Ane Alencar (Brazil, Living Amazon Vision)
- Jos Barlow (UK, conservation and restoration)
- Luciana Villa Nova (Brazil, bioeconomy)
- Natalia Piland (Nature Conservancy)
Chapter 29 in Brief (English / Portuguese / Spanish)
Chapter 30 in Brief (English / Portuguese / Spanish)
Chapter 32 in Brief (English / Portuguese / Spanish)
Chapter 34 in Brief (English / Portuguese / Spanish)
SPA Authors Present at Princeton’s Brazil LAB “Amazonian Leapfrogging” Event
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
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
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: https://sdsn.hrpartner.io/jobs/science-officer-lgdg3
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: https://sdsn.hrpartner.io/jobs/science-officer-lgdg3