New highways. New ports. New power plants. Economic growth is sweeping across the Amazon as people in South America work hard to integrate development across national borders.
The Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America, commonly known as IIRSA, is moving forward based on the understanding that development will bring more jobs and prosperity to people across the continent. To ensure that development and economic integration are harmonious with the region’s renewable natural resources, Conservation International is advising governments and business leaders that South America can become more prosperous while keeping its abundant natural resources intact.
A new study released today at the Latin American Parks Congress by Timothy J. Killeen, Ph.D., with CI’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS), tackles this very issue. Killen’s paper, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Wilderness,” makes clear that if South America develops in the wrong way, it risks destroying the region’s rain forests, destroying its rivers, and altering regional weather patterns that are fundamental for the region’s long-term economic prosperity.
“You can’t integrate an economy if you can’t drive a truck from one country to another,” Killeen says. “But there needs to be greater emphasis on environmental safeguards so that investments from IIRSA actually work to conserve the Amazon as well as to integrate the economies.”