São Paulo, Brazil – Wal-Mart Brazil President and CEO, Héctor Núñez, and Conservation International (CI) CEO, Peter Seligmann, one of the world’s largest environment-related NGOs, signed an agreement for the conservation of the National Forest of Amapá. Also known as Flona, the area has 457 thousand hectares and is part of the in Amapá’s Biodiversity Corridor (CBA). The project, in which the amount of R$5 million will be invested, equally shared between Wal-Mart Brazil and CI, aims at guaranteeing forest conservation, and at the same time, sustainable development for the local population.
The objective is to transform the National Forest of Amapá, throughout the next five years, a model for management and sustainable use of the resources found in the Brazilian Amazon. The investment is going to make the creation and implementation of a Stewardship Plan possible, as well as the development of an environmental education campaign for the surrounding municipalities and the elimination of activities such as illegal gold digging, by means of integrating the population in the sustainable use of forest resources.
“For Wal-Mart, this has sustainability in its DNA, having the possibility to take part in such a project, which involves the world’s largest green area, means contributing towards the planet’s future. The partnership also shows our commitment with Brazil, where we have investment plans and we generate around 70,000 jobs," Héctor Núñez, president of Wal-Mart Brazil, says.
The first step so that all the action in favor of Flona is developed is to create a Stewardship Plan, an essential document to outline feasible activity types for the area. Currently, CI has a technical cooperation agreement with Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation. The work involves investments in the forest’s infrastructure, as well as the conclusion of basic phases for the creation of the Stewardship Plan. The plan envisages programs to be developed throughout the following years to solve, settle and identify environmental and socio-economic problems in the region.
Flona – The National Forest of Amapá is one of the oldest “conservation units” (areas protected by law) in the State, considered the best-preserved area in the Brazilian Amazon, with over 70% of its surface protected by law.
According to the National System of Conservation Units (SNUC), the "forest" category anticipates the permanence of local populations in the unit as long as they can develop sustainable activities. Currently, there are around 10 families living in Flona, besides the existence of an illegal gold digging site that shelters another 100 people. The project aims to integrate this population, offering a financially viable alternative so that these families can get resources legally is essential.
Wal-Mart Brazil and Conservation International will equally divide the R $5 million-investment for 5 years of partnership. By the end of this period, the objective is to transform Flona in a self-sustainable area.
EcoFriendly Unit Will Be Opened This Year
All units opened since 2006 are built according to “green” parameters
Among the platforms of the Wal-Mart Brazil sustainability program, one refers to the construction of sustainable constructions. Since the implementation of the program, in 2006, all stores built by the company – 34 since then – are planed and developed according to sustainable parameters, such as usage of more efficient light bulbs (T5, that spend around 20% less energy and refrigerators with LEDs), best usage of natural light and porous concrete on parking lots, for example.
The Supercenter in Granja Vianna, opened in October 2007, is an example of what can be considered a “green” store, since its construction made use of several ecofriendly resources. In that store, they developed an exclusive rainwater collection and lag structure with infiltration system to feed the water table. They built two private sewage stations with reuse of water for the store’s toilets, garden watering and soil infiltration. The store external parking lots used ecologic materials such as concrete and grass flooring, which allow for higher absorption of rainwater and are less aggressive to the environment.
Wal-Mart has used increasingly higher standards with relation to sustainable alternatives in their stores. From a list of over 30 items considered ecofriendly in constructions, Wal-Mart intends to implement them all in one store, which means including even a wind power turbine. Until the end of the year, Wal-Mart will open their store considered “ecofriendly,” a level above that of the “green” store, the unit that gathers all possible items in one single place. The locations of the several stores of this standard are still to be defined.
1st Wal-Mart Sustainable Retail Award
To stimulate and encourage the discussion about sustainability, Wal-Mart Brazil is launching the “Wal-Mart Sustainable Retail Award,” geared towards university students throughout the country. The aim is to raise the interest in the academic environment.
Wal-Mart already encourages its employees to bring simple actions into their homes, which together can make a difference, such as garbage recycling and water saving, for instance. Furthermore, it fosters actions to inform its clients how they can contribute to future generations – with recycling stations, food, books and coats donation programs, etc. The company also challenges its suppliers to reduce packaging, use items that are more organic and evaluate alternatives to make their products more sustainable.
Now, Wal-Mart Brazil is taking this issue to undergraduate students throughout the country. Registrations will be open on April 15 and interested parties can obtain more information at http://www.premiovarejosustentavel.com.br/.
A judging commission comprising opinion makers, and Brazilian and international specialists in sustainability will select the three best pieces of work. The authors will be acknowledged in a ceremony and will receive laptops as their award.