Conservation International CEO Testifies Before Congress, Advocates for Forest Conservation

May 12, 2022

Washington, DC (May 12, 2022) – Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in support of H.R 5830, the America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act – known also as the AMAZON21 bill.

The hearing, entitled "Forest Conservation in the Fight Against Climate Change" was convened by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD-05), who authored the AMAZON21 bill. In addition to Sanjayan, two other experts testified, one of whom being Conservation International Board Member Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.

The bill, introduced last November by Hoyer, would provide necessary financial support to lower global deforestation rates and reduce carbon emissions. If passed, it will help developing countries as they work toward meeting their Naturally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. It calls for the creation of a $9 billion trust fund, enabling the State Department to support local on-the-ground efforts to conserve natural carbon sinks like forests, mangroves grasslands and wetlands ultimately preventing the release of up to 180 million metric tons of carbon annually.

Following opening remarks from Hoyer and Representative Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Sanjayan gave the following testimony:

"The AMAZON21 Act would substantially strengthen conservation efforts around the world. At its core, the legislation incentivizes developing nations that invest in maintaining the health of some of our most critical ecosystems to protect and restore nature. Additionally, the legislation creates a technical assistance program through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help developing countries and landowners access carbon markets, creating important economic opportunities for rural landowners and Indigenous peoples, among others, who commit to protecting nature.

"The bill has the opportunity to create lasting impacts, by helping to preserve critical ecosystems and important natural carbon sinks, and protect wildlife. This in turn helps provide food, climate and national security for developing countries.

"Furthermore, the AMAZON21 Act heralds a shift in how conservation is done at a crucial and decisive moment where swift action is needed to protect nature to slow the spread of deforestation, the mass extinctions of wildlife and to stabilize our climate."

Find Sanjayan's full remarks to Congress here. Additional key sentiments are below. 

  • "Even if the world stopped using fossil fuels completely, we would still fail to avert a worst-case scenario if we did not also reverse the destruction of ecosystems, such as forests that absorb and store carbon."
  • "Natural climate solutions are beneficial because they exist today, and because we can easily implement and scale them almost immediately."
  • "Nature conservation, like all things, requires investment. Billions of dollars in available private capital for nature-based investments are sidelined by uncertainty and risk. Yet, we know demand is there. Currently, only 3 percent of all available global climate finance is aimed at protecting nature."
  • "This legislation would open new opportunities to make targeted and purposeful investments that will bolster climate resilience, protect livelihoods and food security without destroying nature’s life-support systems in a way that is inclusive and pro-business — combining the efforts of private, nonprofit and multinational entities, as well as individuals, to achieve a broader, more impactful reach."


About Conservation International: Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, for biodiversity and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities to help people and nature thrive together. Go to for more, and follow our work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitterTikTokInstagram and YouTube.