New Economy for the Brazilian Amazon

Nobre, C.A. et al. | : WRI Brasil. Report. Available in: www.wribrasil. | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Policy brief |


The coming decades will define whether the
Amazon – home to more than 28 million inhabitants,
198 indigenous peoples, and harbouring the most
biodiverse forest, the largest freshwater reservoir
and the largest tropical bloc for climate regulation
on the planet – will become the great catalyst
for Brazil’s low-carbon economy. Or whether, in
the opposite direction, the Amazon will reach an
irreversible point of degradation, deepening current
inequalities and jeopardizing the stability and
competitiveness of the country’s entire economy.
How to guide the Legal Amazon towards a
decarbonization trajectory, transforming the region’s
economy so that it grows, generates opportunities,
values local cultures and environmental assets,
while fighting inequality and deforestation? This
question motivated the 76 researchers who signed
the New Economy for the Amazon report.
The study combines different techniques and
knowledge to present a unique depiction of the
Legal Amazon’s current economy, bringing to
light the region’s economic and environmental
relations with the rest of Brazil and the world.
The study focuses on carbon-intensive sectors
that must change course in order to become
a relevant part of a standing forest economy,
more suited to the challenges of this century.
The study further explores the role of the
bioeconomy, revealing a vigorous activity hitherto
invisible to conventional instruments used
to measure economic activity. Although it is
based on the secular form of production of the
original peoples, constantly innovated by local
technologies developed in Amazonian villages,
rural areas and cities, the bioeconomy remains
underestimated in terms of its current impact
and future potential. The work provides visibility
to these activities, demonstrating their relevance
as a solution for the region’s future economy.
The report also assesses the economic performance
of the Legal Amazon under different scenarios,
comparing the current trajectory, which has
been driving degradation, with alternative
decarbonization scenarios, especially in the
agricultural, livestock and energy sectors.
More than comparing GDP and job creation results,
as economic performance is traditionally assessed,
the New Economy for the Amazon gives shape to a
qualitative analysis of that which is wanted for the
future – and there is no future for Brazil without
the Amazon. The results show that it is impossible
for the country to reach its Paris Agreement
targets and contribute to curbing global warming
without eliminating deforestation in the Amazon.
Even assuming that deforestation is eliminated,
it will still be necessary to restore large areas of
the forest and adopt new ways of generating and
consuming energy, whether in rural or urban areas.
This report proposes a transition that generates
quality jobs and opportunities for the region’s
citizens, while driving important changes in the rest
of the country. The New Economy for the Amazon
can be the great catalyst for the decarbonization
of the entire Brazilian economy and the greatest
opportunity for economic and social development
in the country’s contemporary history.