Amazônia +Conectada: Uniting People and Shortening Distances to Drive Sustainable Development

Representatives of the private sector and USAID partners gathered during the launch of Rede Amazônia +Conectada
This initiative will provide high-quality internet access and vocational training

June/July 2023 – “Just as we have plant and animal life, we have human beings living in the Amazon, who need to be seen. We have to find solutions to keep the forest standing and work together to conserve it. And for that we must count on everyone's help,” said Maria Raimunda Melo, president of the Sustainable Juruti Institute (IJUS), at the launch of the Rede Amazônia +ConectadaTransforming Lives Through Connectivity.

As a long-standing partner of USAID/Brazil, IJUS is helping to select 750 families in the municipality of Juruti (PA) to receive high-speed internet access at home. The selection process will take into account income and social inclusion indicators. With the support of USAID and Grupo +Unidos, the Rede Amazônia +Conectada partners with the private sector. It will receive R$10 million in investment for a period of two years, benefiting more than 3,000 people.

“In order to promote digital inclusion and integrate the Amazon region with the rest of the world, we must overcome a number of obstacles, including precarious infrastructure and lack of connectivity. Investments in improved connectivity and high-quality internet access in Juruti could be an important driver for the social, economic, and cultural development of the region, overcoming our current limitations and offering new opportunities to local communities,” added Ms. Melo.

Two women are sitting at the center of the table and two men are at the ends during net meeting

In addition to connectivity – through a fiber optic network – the program will donate 750 computers to selected families and deliver vocational training to 2,200 residents. The goal is to build more capacity and create job opportunities, with increased income and socioeconomic development, demonstrating that forest preservation is profitable and can improve people's quality of living. 

“The Rede Amazônia +Conectada is an example of a positive partnership and of the importance of joint efforts—private sector, public sector, and civil society to reach our very important goals. USAID has been working in the area of Amazon biodiversity conservation for more than two decades,” said Ted Gehr, Director of USAID/Brazil. "Connectivity translates into opportunity," he added.

Attendees at the launch event included US Consul General in São Paulo David Hodge, as well as representatives of the partner companies: Alcoa, Qualcomm, and Microsoft.

“This project goes far beyond connecting people. It will open up new opportunities for this population. Biodiversity conservation and concern for the Amazon are important guidelines for our organization. This program celebrates a very productive period of collaboration between +Unidos and USAID,” said David Bunce, president of Grupo +Unidos. 

Sustainable development – During discussions on “Private Social Investment for Amazon Conservation”, Alcoa CEO Otavio Carvalheira pointed out that demand for connectivity is something recent in Juruti, but it is extremely important for local development. “The solution for the Amazon involves legal compliance, legitimacy, and the sustainable use of resources," he said.

For Daniel Grynberg, Executive Director of Grupo +Unidos, high-quality broadband internet access could help to promote social transformation. “This will create a community empowered to use digital tools and able to identify economic growth opportunities, as well as raise awareness about the challenges and threats faced by Amazon, thus contributing to the long-term sustainability of Amazon resources,” he explained.

Qualcomm CEO Luiz Tonisi pointed out that technology will be used to promote forest sustainability.

Although Juruti has an estimated population of 59,000 inhabitants, only four percent of local residents aged 25 or more have completed higher education.

“Education and training are both very important. If you are connected to the internet, it no longer matters where you are: you can learn whatever (and wherever) you want. So, in an area like the Amazon, where logistics are so complicated and there are no teachers, people will now be able to learn via the internet,” added Gehr.

For Maria Raimunda, “having access to the internet is very good, but even better if it arrives with quality”.

Learn more about other projects that IJUS coordinates with the USAID support here.