São Paulo, Brazil –Two Brazilian public officials from Amazon states received for the first time Conservation International’s Global Conservation Hero award last evening. They were Camilo Capiberibe, governor of Amapá, the Northern most state of Brazil on the border with Suriname and French Guyana, and Eduardo Braga, former governor and current senator for Amazonas, the state with the largest area covered by forest in the country.
Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, announced the recipients at an event in São Paulo, with the presence of some of the most prominent domestic and international celebrities, conservationists, policymakers and businessmen.
“It is an honor for me to introduce these two very important people to receive our Global Conservation Hero award,” Mittermeier said. This is a prestigious award that we give only on special occasions to a person or organization that has taken conservation efforts to a whole new scale.”
Previous recipients of this award include Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Walmart, the U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and Anderson Cooper and the Planet in Peril production team at CNN.
Senator Eduardo Braga was governor of the state of Amazonas -- the Brazilian state with the largest green area in the country -- from 2003 until 2010. During this period, he created programs that brought substantial social and economic benefits to population. Braga has led efforts to increase the protected areas in his state by close to 100 percent and to generate jobs and income for people in towns that rank lowest in the Human Development Index (HDI).
In 2004, Braga created more than 2.5 million hectars in protected areas in Southern Amazonas, the area that is most threatened by deforestation. He also implemented an innovative monetary compensation scheme to benefit traditional and indigenous populations for keeping forests standing. This is currently the largest payment for ecosystem service scheme in the world, with 8,400 families benefiting in 15 protected areas, covering 10 million hectares.
As he accepted the award, Braga said: “If anyone deserves this award, it is not the senator or the governor, but the humble people of Amazonas who believe it is possible to live in harmony with nature and work hard to protect it for their children.”
Governor Camilo Capiberibe belongs to a new generation of Brazilian politicians who believe conservation and development go hand in hand. The state has a long history of promoting sustainable development, which includes the creation of one of the largest sustainable-use protected areas in the world, the National Forest of Amapá. Here, Conservation International and Walmart work in partnership to foster the sustainable production of non-timber commodities, such as the native Amazon berry açaí. Amapá has 73 percent of its territory under protection - a world record.
“Seventeen years ago, when no one talked about sustainability, my father and then governor launched a sustainable development plan for Amapá. Now, this award reinforces the conviction that we are on the right track. It is necessary to create opportunity for prosperity for the urban populations and for those who live in the forest to safeguard a future for all. This award does not belong to me, but to the people of Amapá,” said Capiberibe.
Americas Sustainability Center
Conservation International and its Board Director André Esteves, CEO of BTG Pactual investment bank, also launched the Americas Center for Sustainability at the same event. “This center can determine a new path to sustainable development first by engaging companies to change their supply chains to more sustainable models,” said Esteves. “If we can take this transformation from Brazil to Latin America, then to the world, we will be able to achieve a new, more sustainable model of development on a global scale."
Peter Seligmann, CEO and founder of Conservation International, closed the event: “We look at Brazil and the Americas as a global priority. This region is the world’s greatest producer of fresh water. More than half of Earth’s tropical forests are here. And, you have extraordinarily vibrant economies. This is the place where we should show the world how to do it right. That’s why we work with so many companies and policy makers here. Brazil and the Americas are CI’s single largest investment. If we can demonstrate here that development doesn’t need to come at a cost to nature, then we can put the world on a better path. But we need to act now.”
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Conservation International - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and its global biodiversity to promote the long-term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. CI employs more than 800 staff in 20+ countries on four continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.