Seminar in Belém officially launches PPA in Pará

Amazon conservation initiatives discussed partnerships with the private sector in the areas of territorial development, value chains, and impact business investment.

Belém, November 8, 2019. “Who would imagine – 15 years ago – that private companies and NGOs would be sitting around the same table?,” wondered Marcello Brito, CEO of Agropalma and Director of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association. He uttered these words at the opening of a seminar held on Thursday, November 7 in Belém. The event brought together over 100 representatives from small, medium, and large-sized businesses, civil society organizations, academia, and government agencies for the official launch of the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) in the state of Pará.

The PPA is a private sector-led collective action platform that seeks innovative solutions to promote a new development model for the Amazon region, combining sustainability and biodiversity conservation with improved living conditions for forest-dependent populations.

The PPA builds on the successful model developed by +Unidos (a business network focused on education). It is supported by the United States International Development Agency (USAID) in Brazil, and has been present in the Amazon for two years. Now, under the coordination of the Peabiru Institute and the Amazon Conservation Team (ECAM), it has arrived in Pará, thus expanding its coverage to the two largest states in the Brazilian North.

According to Bernardo Ricco, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the USAID Latin America and Caribbean Department, the agency has been prioritizing its engagement with the private sector. Indeed, here in Brazil, “the PPA results from a joint effort with the private sector”. For him, “in just a few months, we have already seen very positive results, such as the study ‘Investing in development’,” which identifies models and instruments to attract private resources to local communities and territories. “Contributing to national GDP growth while conserving forests and their biodiversity is not an easy task. It's a journey that requires joint work, collaboration, and innovation”.

The seminar panels showcased some examples of how the PPA can move forward. A coconut breaker from the state of Maranhão, who works in the Legal Reserve of a property where Suzano grows trees for pulp and paper production, explained that the partnership has helped them to improve their processes and working conditions. ”We were concerned when Suzano bought the area, but we now have improved access and support,” said Zuleide Pereira de Souza, of the Coquelândia Babassu Coconut Breakers Association (the babassu needs to be cracked to extract the nuts).

João Meirelles, Director of the Peabiru Institute, believes that the event represents “a milestone in the relationship among the companies involved, as well as between companies and other sectors of society, in favor of Amazon sustainability and conservation. In our role as facilitators, we have identified many interests in common, both among companies themselves, in their own territories, and with local NGO agendas, from a wider perspective. This is more positive than negative, and we have a long path ahead of us”, Mirelles added.

More than 30 companies and institutions have already joined the PPA and have been exchanging information and experiences, in addition to helping organize production chains. The PPA also sponsors an acceleration program for start-ups operating in the Amazon, and welcomes companies of all sizes that may be interested in the region.