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Dialogues South America takeaways

A deep dive into the True Value of the Amazon Rainforest

For two and a half days, around 30 representatives from Amazonian countries, including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia, gathered their collective experience—totaling more than 900 years of working and living in the territory—to share their knowledge about the true value of the forest, also known as "the lungs of the world."  

The "Wyss Academy Dialogues on the True Value of Forests - A Regional Perspective on the Value of the Amazon" created a safe space to discuss the Amazon Rainforest, beyond its rich biodiversity, clean water sources, and oxygen production.  

According to Miguel Saravia, Wyss Academy’s Hub director in Hub South America, the Dialogues offered a “new opportunity to think collectively and creatively about solutions to the major environmental challenges we face both in the Amazon region and on the planet.” 

According to the Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG), the Amazon covers an area of 8,470,209 km². The opportunities for sustainable development are as vast as the size of the region. However, it needs to be considered that besides ensuring that the forest remains standing, the local and Indigenous communities also need to have an income. 

“When one thinks of the Amazon as a virgin forest or intact virgin ecosystem, one is imagining something that does not exist. It is a fantasy”, said Mariana Varese, Director of Amazonian Landscapes at the Wildlife Conservation Society and participant in the dialogue. “The Amazon, its diversity, complexity, and contribution to the planet are possible because for over 10,000 years, indigenous peoples have inhabited and managed it. Therefore, any solution route to conserve the Amazon must include and benefit indigenous peoples and local communities”, added the expert. 

During the three-day Dialogue held in the city of Manaus, Brazil, participants from various backgrounds and perspectives —such as indigenous peoples, the business sector, academia, NGOs, and public institutions— shared their experiences and jointly developed a vision and clear ideas on how to collaboratively address the urgent challenges. 

“Great opportunities arise from the true incorporation and prioritization of the multiple values of the Amazon in policies, investments, science, and social practices. Significant progress was achieved through the dialogue”, stated Mariano Castro, Director of Unidos por el Bosque of the Fundación para la Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible (FCDS) and partner organization for the regional dialogue in South America. 

The participants of the dialogue have ended their activities by creating a collective message of what they see as the Amazon's values, with inspiring statements to guide future work in the region. The collective message is as follows:  

“We recognize the Amazon as a living, complex, and interconnected system, as a connector of time, space, and people. The Amazon is also a right, a set of experiences and stories, both individual and collective, human and non-human.  

We need to build a collective path and weave together collaborations and initiatives. We need to share stories that exemplify the values of the Amazon and the benefits of conserving it. We need to communicate, using appropriate language for each audience, the urgency of the consequences of the disappearance of the Amazon, as well as the threats contributing to its degradation. We need to create fluid and efficient communication between the scientific community and the State, to govern based on evidence and strengthen relationships among all actors to face ongoing challenges. We believe it is essential to recognize and defend people's right to prosperity, and nature's right to exist.  

We want to communicate this collective vision of the Amazon to Amazonian peoples, Amazonian countries, and the world, and to build a path of joint actions that transcend physical space and reflect the interconnection between people and nature.”  

This collective message will now be shared and inspire the upcoming regional and global Dialogues on the True Value of Forests, as explained Tatiana Glad, the executive Director of the Impact Hub. 

“The recent dialogue in South America about the Amazon has set a powerful precedent in recognizing the true value of forests. The Impact Hub global network is excited to join forces with Wyss Academy and regional partners so that the vital role of forests is championed by communities around the world. As we prepare for the upcoming dialogues in other regions, we anticipate each conversation will deepen our understanding and commitment - get ready to witness a wave of environmental insights, advocacy and action!", said Glad. 

The next dialogues about the True Value of Forests will be held in Southeast Asia from May 30 to 31, Europe from May 4 to 5, East Africa from June 13 to 14, and a final and global event is planned for the second semester of 2024.  

The Dialogues on the True Value of Forests are organized by the Wyss Academy for Nature in collaboration with the Impact Hub Network and had the regional support of the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS) in South America. 


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