There’s so much to learn from Indigenous communities—what we’ve inherited and what we’ve lost. How can we spend time reflecting and thinking in this special environment? – Stephen Dunbar Johnson (CEO of The New York Times)
On 9 November, Impact One hosted their Forest One event as part of their Possible Futures programme during the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, in partnership with Future of Cities, Amazon Watch, The New York Times and EXTREME. Indigenous representatives from Amazonic communities, urban development leaders, and industry innovators were invited to participate at the event which focused on exploring symbiotic modes of living, presenting new outlooks to urban development, and infrastructure for the protection of planetary health and wellbeing.
During the event, Impact One introduced their Forest One programme and invited AYA Earth Partners to the stage to unveil their pioneering report: The Amazon’s Marathon: Race to Zero and to Resilience. Featuring contributions from leading scientists and activists, the report provides an analysis of Brazil and the Amazon, mapping the potential of the region to become the first major economy to achieve net zero carbon emissions while boosting economic growth.
Through an engaging panel discussion, AYA’s co-founders, Patricia Ellen and Alexandre Allard, alongside social entrepreneur and teacher Vanda Witoto, Earth systems scientist Carlos Nobre, and a representative of political scientist and civic entrepreneur Ilona Szabó, delved into strategies for integrating Indigenous knowledge with Western development. They emphasised the need to fortify governance and foster sustainable initiatives across all nine states in the legal Amazon, encompassing local communities, governmental bodies, civil society, and the private sector. Patricia Ellen stated that preserving the Amazon is not solely about protecting the forests, but about safeguarding humanity, a responsibility that impacts people worldwide. Furthermore, Alexandre Allard stressed that a significant focus of AYA is to redefine Amazonia as a solution rather than a problem, highlighting the region’s potential to drive economic growth and propel prosperity.
AYA’s report elaborates on these arguments, delineating a transition from the extractive model of the past to a nature-based approach that is both climate-positive and people-centric. It details eleven pivotal pathways that could establish Brazil as the frontrunner in a worldwide shift towards more sustainable development, with the projection of increasing the national GDP from $100 billion to $150 billion by 2023. Through responsible land use and commodity production, socially inclusive education, bioeconomic development and rainforest restoration, amongst other strategies, the report sets forth a new climate positive era for our global economy.
As Carlos Nobre pointed out, these ideas align with the visionary perspective of José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva from 200 years ago. He underlined that the essential pillars of a transition towards a new bioeconomy rest upon the integration of education, science and technological innovation, alongside a profound respect for Indigenous communities and ancestral knowledge. This sort of holistic approach serves as a promising framework for addressing present-day challenges and fostering sustainable development for future generations.
If we listen to the Indigenous voices, we will hear the calling of Mother Earth. – Vanda Witoto