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The Amazon and the 2022 Elections: The Amazon 2030 agenda for future governments

On 08/22, the 21st Concertation Meeting was held online in partnership with initiatives Amazônia 2030 (Amazon 2030) and Derrubando Mundos (Tearing Down Walls), and was aimed at presenting and discussing the Amazon 2030 agenda for future governments.

Gathering nearly 150 participants, the discussion was led by Beto Veríssimo, co-founder of Imazon and coordinator of the Amazônia 2030 project, and Clarissa Gandour, head of Policy Evaluation focusing on Conservation at the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), researcher at PUC-Rio and Amazônia 2030 collaborator; and mediated by Zeca Martins, coordinator of Derrubando Muros and co-founder of Paradoxa.

Beto Veríssimo opened the debate and presented “Amazônia: Agenda 2030”, result of the efforts of 60 researchers who produced 51 reports themed “economy”, “forest” and “society”.

“The Amazon will reach its demographic bonus peak in 2030”

As a starting point, Veríssimo explained the demographic context of the Amazon, which experienced an accelerated population growth (the population in the region almost quadrupled between 1970 and 2020), while reaching record deforestation in the same period, achieving about 21 % of its vegetation cover. However, unlike the rest of the country, the region finds itself in a “demographic bonus” situation, that is, with a greater proportion of people who are able to enter the labor market than of those who are not (for being too young or old). However, almost a third of the region’s 28 million inhabitants are unemployed or discouraged.

“There is an excess of deforested and underused areas in the Amazon”

When addressing the project study results, Beto draws attention to what he called “The Amazon paradox”. If, on the one hand, the Amazon has 8 million unemployed people, and about 84 million hectares of deforested, underused and available land for use; on the other, the region has a forest area with enough carbon stock to fight the climate crisis, as well as enormous potential for exportable agroforestry products, both capable of achieving significant economic results. Even so, this Brazilian region is responsible for the most carbon emissions, the highest proportion of young discouraged people aged between 18 and 29, the highest homicide rate in Brazil (70% higher than the rest of the country) and the lowest rate of young people in vocational education; in addition to the lowest proportion of internet connection, which is an even more serious situation in non-urban areas.

“Qualified people are leaving the Amazon”

In terms of employment, 46% of workers are in the service sector, which is essentially urban, and the population is primarily (almost 60%) distributed in municipalities that have less than 50 thousand inhabitants, without access to public services such as sanitation and health. In this context, the region has faced internal migratory flows and loss of population, mainly of people with a higher level of education, who seek possibilities outside the Amazon.

The Amazônia 2030 studies indicate some economic opportunities that should be adopted in this context:

  • – Increase in productivity for the agricultural sector in the deforested Amazon;
  • – The production of typical forest products for areas under threatened deforestation; and
  • – REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) for forested areas, provided that basic conditions are met, such as zero deforestation, forest regularization and governance of public finances.

Veríssimo emphasized that a list of detailed proposals for these topics is already in place and that they must differentiate from the PPCDAm (Action Plan for Deforestation Prevention and Control in the Legal Amazon), a successful program created in 2004, but that has had its implementation conditions substantially changed. As examples, he cited the role of BNDES in developing the agenda for the region, improving the distribution of resources collected from mining activities (Financial Compensation for the Exploration of Mineral Resources – CFEM), fighting criminality, forest restoration, broadband, social agenda and others, always with innovative proposals according to the intra-regional characteristics.

“Deforestation is only one face of the Amazon problem”

In its final stage, the Meeting held an open debate on the provided information and proposals, addressing the relationship between the social dimensions in this context, in which deforestation is not an isolated factor, as it is related to other themes, such as public security, mercury contamination in water, infrastructure, connectivity, electrification, education and vocational education, among others.

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