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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What inspired the establishment of the Science Panel for the Amazon?

In 2019, the Leticia Pact was adopted as an effort by Amazonian countries to address fires that wreaked havoc on the forest and provoked an international outcry. The Leticia Pact highlighted the importance of research, technology, and knowledge management to guide decision-making. Inspired by this, the Science Panel for the Amazon—the first high-level science initiative dedicated to the Amazon—was established in 2020. It is often referred to as an “IPCC for the Amazon”.

2. Who makes up the Panel?

The panel consists of over 240 scientists, 65% from Amazonian countries, including Indigenous scientists. Approximately 42% are female-identifying scientists. You can read the bios of the scientists here.

The SPA Co-Chairs are Carlos Nobre, Senior Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo; and Dolors Armenteras, Professor, National University of Colombia. Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor at Columbia University and President of the SDSN, is the Convener of the SPA and Emma Torres, Vice President for the Americas and Head of the New York Office at SDSN, is the Strategic Coordinator. The Panel also consists of a Strategic Committee including the former president of Colombia and Nobel Laureate Juan Manuel Santos, as well as other political leaders, cultural icons such as Christiane Torloni, and the General Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal.

The SPA is supported by a technical secretariat based in Sao Paulo and in New York City.

3. What is the main goal of the SPA?

The SPA’s vision is to be “a global authority providing state-of-the-art, policy-relevant science and knowledge about the Amazon.” Its mission is “to synthesize and communicate scientific, Indigenous, and local knowledge of the Amazon to accelerate solutions for sustainable and equitable development.” The SPA also aims to stimulate science advancement by covering knowledge gaps and involving more science academies and young researchers, as well as by spurring investment in science, technology, and innovation in the Amazonian region.

The SPA provided a comprehensive, objective, open, transparent, systematic, and rigorous scientific assessment of the state of the Amazon’s ecosystems, 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 in the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report. Future policy briefs, white papers, updates to the Assessment, and other publications will continue to be issued.

4. What is the role of SDSN in the Panel?

The SPA is convened under the auspices of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations. The SDSN is a network of over 1,800 universities and research institutes in over 130 countries. The SDSN’s mission is to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by building frameworks for academic knowledge to reach key stakeholders and decision-makers, including governments, civil society, the UN system, and the private sector.

5. What is the unique contribution of the 2021 Amazon Assessment Report?

This landmark report is unprecedented for its scientific and geographic scope, the inclusion of Indigenous scientists, and its transparency, having undergone peer review and public consultation. It comprises 34 chapters that look at the Amazon forest’s current state, threats, and solutions to those threats. The SPA report presents solutions and pathways for sustainable development of the Amazon Basin, providing policy-relevant recommendations based on the accumulated and collaborative knowledge of the scientific community of the region and the wisdom of Indigenous peoples and other stakeholders that live and work in the Amazonian countries. The report provides a unique scientific vision of the Amazon Basin, at a crucial time when ecosystems are nearing tipping points aggravated by the impacts of climate change, and challenging political environments. In many Amazonian countries, we have recently seen reversals to previous gains made on environmental and social issues. Therefore, this report is an appropriate and urgent initiative. The report was launched and well-received at COP26.

6. What are SPA’s 4 recommended urgent actions?

1. Moratorium on deforestation in areas approaching a tipping point
17% of the Amazon basin has already been deforested and an additional 17% of the biome has been degraded, threatening the survival of the whole. There is evidence indicating that some areas in the Amazon are already becoming carbon sources instead of sinks.

2. Zero deforestation and degradation by 2030
Safeguarding and strengthening the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities is vital to conserving forests and fighting climate change, while providing many benefits to society.

3. Restore terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
Restoring and remediating forest cover and aquatic ecosystems is essential to preserve the Amazon’s resilience to climate change and conserve bio- and cultural diversity. It goes beyond natural ecosystems to include the recovery of socially-just economic activities in deforested lands.

4. A vibrant bioeconomy of healthy standing forests and flowing rivers
Halt illegal activities and environmental crime, and promote sustainable value chains by combining scientific and traditional knowledge.

You can find more information in our policy brief.

7. What are the key takeaways of the SPA report

You can find the key takeaways of the report in our Executive Summary.

8. I am not a scientist but I would like to support the Panel, what can I do?

Everyone can help make an impact! Whether it’s sharing our posts on social media or sharing our policy brief with your local government and civil society representatives, you can help support our mission. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay up to date. If you have further questions you can reach out to the team at spa@unsdsn.org.