The Brazilian NGO IDESAM acts to conserve and optimize natural resources in Amazonas State, Brazil. Carlos Gabriel Koury, IDESAM’s executive secretary, discusses the key development issues in the region.
In Touch: What are the current development challenges in Amazonas State?
CGK: Brazil is made up of federal states that have latitude to act on economic and ecologic issues. Amazonas State, composed of 97% of preserved area and covers 18% of the Brazilian territory. It defends an economic model based on conservation of “standing forests,” unlike others states of Brazil which utilizes its forests for intensive agriculture, with slash-and-burn farming or cattle farming. The federal government must understand the long-term usefulness of the forest and its wealth so that the deforestation front between Para and Amazonas does not shift to the detriment of standing forests and to the benefit of agribusiness. The survival of the indigenous peoples that occupy 10% of the territory depends on this.
In Touch: How do you contribute to sustainable development in Amazonas? And with GRET?
CGK: IDESAM works on climate change, and natural resource and protected area management; it promotes sustainable natural resource use. Locally, it has, for instance, set up an ecotourism system that uses participatory management: inhabitants maintain the natural preserves while creating an economy based on tourism and crafts. With GRET, IDESAM is building 17 social forest organizations’ capacities to defend their interests to decision-makers and formulate and execute forest policies.
In Touch: IDESAM will attend the Rio+20. What positions will you defend?
CGK: IDESAM will organize several side events on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and defending the legitimacy of traditional forest knowledge (fishing, low-impact logging, etc.) as professions to be integrated in production chains. We are, however, skeptical about the outcome of the summit: the agenda is not very clear, the topics are imprecise, and the logic is still purely economic.