New challenges for the protection of the Amazon

“The Amazon forest is a complex ecosystem that needs more attention and safeguards at a macro-level” exposed Paul Little, international consultant on environmental and indigenous policies during a session of the Global Forum on Landscapes conducted in the framework of the COP20.

Project financing, supervision and administration for the Amazon are also very complex so that policies, investment levels and safeguards should be treated differently. On the issue of policies, governments should be more strict over projects planned in these areas, considering not only the cycle of each project and only one economic sector, but in a systemic way with regional impact.

The investment must be seen from the social, economic and environmental approach, analyzing the immediate and future impacts. Safeguards should be withdrawn from the ancient knowledge and environmental services offered by the area. The Camisea project illustrated by Gonzalo de la Mata, president of the Inspection Panel of the World Bank, shows one of these complex examples, where the balance between economic, social and environmental development is a very elusive goal. In this regard, he tells us how the Camisea project has contributed to the development of the economy of Peru, increasing its GDP between 2 and 3% and secondly, that the impact in terms of land use has been minimal since no avenues have been built for transporting the produced gas.

This would mean Camisea could be seen as an example of great wealth extraction and low environmental impact for their almost zero deforestation. However, despite being the richest area, it has the highest rate of malnutrition. Moreover, the whole economy in Peru has become very dependent on this resource, so considering it is estimated that the gas reserves extracted from this area will be finished in about six years, the economy runs a huge risk which would involve finding and exploiting more areas leading to greater long-term environmental impact.

The challenge remains to find a way to balance the social, economic and environmental, establishing a regional strategy for the conservation of the Amazon and strengthen the role of social organizations, making a special appeal to young people to empower themselves and lead the protection of the also called “lungs of the world”.

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