Carlos Nobre Stresses the Importance of Bioeconomy to Preserve the Amazon

The researcher was at the 2022 PCAB Partners Meeting

August, 2022 - The need for an economy focused on biodiversity, that combines scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge to prevent the Amazon from reaching the point of no return was the focus of a lecture delivered by Carlos Nobre at the 2022 PCAB Partners Meeting. Nobre is a scientist, researcher and professor at the University of São Paulo's Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA-USP).

The “Amazon tipping point” is a term coined by Nobre referring to once a forest reaches a certain level of destruction, it changes permanently and becomes an expanding savannah. Considering the current rate of deforestation in the Amazon, this point will be reached in less than 20 years. About 18% of the Amazon rainforest area has been devastated.

According to Nobre, we need immediate integrated action by governments and society to eliminate deforestation. He described three ways to achieve build back reforestation: promoting conservation, increasing the efficiency of commodity production, and investing in technological innovation through the creation of networks with local actors to achieve social inclusion and economic development, and thus maintain the standing forest. 

“There is no need to continue deforestation. There are ways to use Amazon biodiversity to help preserve the forest. Amazon-grown açaí is worth more than soy and beef. We need to add value to forest products,” claimed Nobre. Brazil is the largest exporter of açaí in the world, as well as its top consumer, followed by the United States. The açaí value chain adds more than US $1 billion to the Brazilian economy, and has already improved the lives of approximately 400,000 families.

Nobre launched the concept of creating an Amazon Technology Institute, along the lines of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as a vehicle to develop a new industrial base supported by high value-added products from the Amazon rainforest. Its purpose would be to develop cutting-edge technology to produce knowledge that fosters the economic expansion of the standing forest.

With research units in different Amazon states, the Institute could set an example for forest communities around the world. It would unitelocal sociobiodiversity with high technology and traditional knowledge.

“It is extremely important to consider Indigenous peoples and traditional communities, since their actions play a central role in our global carbon cycle, hydrology, biodiversity conservation, climate stability, and maintenance of cultural and ethnic diversity,” assured Nobre.