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Friday, September 16 • 2:00pm - 4:00pm
(REF 16038 - Hybrid) The Amazon as a Bioeconomy Superpower: Investing in Innovation and Technology for Prosperity

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Scandinavia House (58 Park Avenue, New York NY)

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This session aims to create awareness of the potential for a bioeconomy of standing forests and flowing rivers in the Amazon, leveraged by investments in science, technology, and innovation as called for in SDG 9.

The Amazon Basin is one of the world's most biologically diverse areas, home to >10% of the world’s described species. Yet, the region is under threat; approximately 17% of the basin has been deforested, and an additional 17% of the biome has been degraded. Deforestation contributes to climate change and places the region in danger of crossing a tipping point beyond which today’s forests can no longer exist.

The coming years are crucial for saving Amazon. While many see conservation goals in conflict with economic growth, this is not the case. Investing in research and technology today can promote the sustainable use of resources in the long term and build a vibrant, inclusive, knowledge-based economy based on new products and services that can be produced from standing forests. This requires building the region’s research capacity and disseminating scientific knowledge to key stakeholder groups.

Globally, the bioeconomy is one of the most important frontiers of scientific and technological innovation, representing a trillion-dollar sector in the United States alone. Nevertheless, it remains relatively absent in tropical forests’ literature, business models, and practices. Instead, tropical economies are predominately based on the extraction of raw materials, which are exported for processing and the addition of value in other countries.

The immense richness of Amazonian biodiversity is underutilized or unknown to global, national, and even local markets. The Amazon, with the world’s greatest biodiversity, has significant potential to support a vibrant and sustainable bioeconomy. Several local initiatives demonstrate this at a pilot scale, as does cosmetics company Natura on a larger scale. They work with local communities to harvest and process products from intact forests, making standing forests more valuable than those cleared for timber or agriculture. However, market signals and policy conditions currently favour deforestation over conservation and restoration. Current products derived from Amazonian genetic resources and germplasm are predominantly developed and marketed outside the region, generating value overseas instead of for local people. Policy frameworks and economic incentives are needed to scale up investment in research, technology, and innovation so that sustainable businesses can create value locally. A local cadre of scientists working at well-resourced research facilities based in the Amazon will be able to develop new Amazonian products and value chains, to be produced locally, returning value to local communities, building a sustainable economy, and addressing the region’s widespread inequality.

It is essential to develop an alternative socio-economic model that no longer relies on the supply of commodities or raw materials but instead is founded on the sustainable management of resources, adding technological value through transformation and innovations using existing and new technologies and, particularly, value aggregation that brings benefits for local and state economies and increase employment. Very limited public resources (e.g., technical support and credit) have been allocated to supporting the development and expansion of these complex systems that combine the management of diverse resources.

Policy-makers, the finance and private sectors, civil society, and academia are made aware of the value of standing forests and flowing rivers in the Amazon and are inspired to lead the transition to a fair and sustainable bioeconomy based on science, and technology and innovation.

More specifically, this session aims to leverage the importance of: (i) investing in education, science, research, technology, and innovation; (ii) creating fiscal and financial incentives to engage the private sector and multilateral institutions in innovation and sustainable value chains; (iii) promoting green job creation and capacity building; (iv) investing in rural, urban, and peri-urban sustainable infrastructure.

A tropical forest bioeconomy is inherently an economy of diversity (of territories, peoples, knowledge, products, and markets); forest products and services can be scaled up, linking the forest to people and enterprises. The new bioeconomy stimulates local, diversified bioindustries and value-added products across the entire value chain, generating jobs and supporting social inclusion. It should be equitable, gender inclusive, and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities

avatar for Liliana Dávalos

Liliana Dávalos

Full Professor, Stony Brook University
Liliana Dávalos is a Colombian scientist with a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology from Columbia University, United States. She is a professor of Conservation Biology at Stony Brook University’s Department of Ecology and Evolution. She leads the Tropical Biology... Read More →
avatar for Emma Torres

Emma Torres

Project manager, Science Panel for the Amazon, SDSN
Emma Torres enjoys a long experience in the United Nations, with increasing level of responsibilities involving management, strategic programme development and negotiations to promote sustainable development initiatives globally and regionally, and more recently as Senior Adviser... Read More →
avatar for Carlos Nobre

Carlos Nobre

Senior Researcher, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Sao Paulo
Prof. Nobre is a Brazilian Earth System scientist who has dedicated over 4 decades of his professional life to studying the Amazon. Currently, he is the Co-Chair of the Science Panel for the Amazon. Global climate change and land use change are bringing the Amazon rainforest very... Read More →
avatar for Adalberto Val

Adalberto Val

National Institute of Amazonian Research
Adalberto Val is a Brazilian senior researcher with a Ph.D. in Fresh Water Biology and Inland Fisheries from the Brazilian National Institute for Research of the Amazon (INPA) in Brazil. Since 1981, he is also a senior researcher with INPA, studying environmental adaptations of fish... Read More →
avatar for Belen Paez

Belen Paez

Executive Director, Fundación Pachamama
María Belen Paez is an Ecuadorian ecologist with a M.Sc in Conservation and Management of Natural Resources from Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She is is Executive Director of the Pachamama Foundation, created in 1996 to protect the Amazon and promote the rights and livelihoods... Read More →

Friday September 16, 2022 2:00pm - 4:00pm EDT
  Biodiversity / Environment, Policy