100&Change: 2020

Amazon is Too Big to Fail: Sustainable Development in Action

Current pathways of business-as-usual scenarios for Amazon urgently call for transformative approaches to face two intractable challenges: zero net deforestation and zero poverty by 2030.

DOWNLOAD: Project Factsheet
Two-page overview of proposal
Community and economic development
Current Work Location
  • Amazonas, Brazil
Proposed Work Locations:
  • Loreto, Peru
  • Ucayali, Peru
  • Departamento del Putumayo, Colombia
  • Departamento del Caquetá, Colombia
  • Amazonas, Brazil
Priority Populations:
  • Low-income people
  • Extremely poor people
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 1. No poverty
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • 12. Responsible consumption and production
  • 13. Climate action
Competition Participation
100&Change: 2020

Executive Summary:

The Amazon is being destroyed at alarming rates and is close to an ecological collapse before 2030. This has caused profound impacts for the future of people and planet. Recent political facts create further threats. The Amazon is “too big to fail”. FAS’ strategy is to make forests worth more standing than cut. Since 2008, deforestation has been reduced by 60% over 11 million hectares (size of Portugal) where we operate. We have done this through a people-centered approach: 581 communities’ income has increased by 281% and health and education have flourished. Our proposal is to support a network of Amazon institutions and people’s groups to take FAS’s integrated ‘social and environmental’ technology to scale. We will create an innovative finance mechanism and a multi-stakeholder learning and policy platform that will shape a sustainable Amazon economy (‘bioeconomy’) – with a new economic governance that will inspire change both regionally and

Organization Details
Lead Organization

Fundação Amazonas Sustentável

website: http://www.fas-amazonas.org
Organization Headquarters
Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil
Organization ID
Annual Operating Budget
$10 to $49 Million
Number of Full-time Employees
100 to 299

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity

Challenge Statement

The wealth of the Amazon has too often been plundered to serve elite of outside interests. Illegal loggers, illegal miners, land grabbers and others profiting most from forest destruction. Amazon destruction has local, regional and global impacts. Locally, impacts include the loss of livelihood of forest-dependent people, health problems associated with air pollution (forest fires) and violence (assassination of environmental leaders). Regionally, the impacts include changes in rainfall regimes that directly influence security of food, hydroelectricity and water. Globally, Amazon deforestation is a major cause of biodiversity loss and source of CO2 and has accelerated climate change. Resulting floods and droughts have created some of the world´s most acute cases of climate injustice. This problem has aggravated recently due to new political developments. Brazilian government is dismantling policies aimed at reducing deforestation and protecting indigenous peoples – and deforestation has increased sharply by 88% in 2019. In Colombia, the peace process has increased deforestation by more than 30% (2015-2018). Political instability in Venezuela has drastically reduced forest law enforcement. It is time for a major initiative to (i) demonstrate viable solutions in practice, (ii) disseminate solutions locally, (iii) build capacity to deploy the solutions, and (iv) empower indigenous and forest-dependent peoples along with scientists and NGOs to influence public policies. Our proven proposition is that making forest worth more standing than cut, yielding widespread improvements in income generation and other aspects of wellbeing can halt deforestation.

Solution Overview

FAS’ solution to deforestation and poverty in the Amazon is based on investing in peoples and bioeconomy to make forests worth more standing than cut. FAS solutions are based on a people-centered and participatory approach, which has been developed, evaluated and improved over the last 11 years. This approach has received a number of national and international awards. Results include reduced deforestation by 60% in 11 million hectares and income growth by 281% since 2008, with most families of 581 communities moving above the poverty line. We can now scale up a ‘Amazon bioeconomy’ approach to mobilize the region’s major assets – its natural capital and its people – to serve local needs for income, health and wellbeing; and global needs for biodiversity and climate regulation. By investing in sustainable forest-based activities locally designed and a SDG-focused holistic approach we will improve the livelihoods of 400 thousand beneficiaries in indigenous and local communities through sustainable use of over 20 million hectares of forest across all 9 Amazon countries. Globally, bioeconomy generates USD 2 trillion yearly, but Amazon´s potential is largely untapped. This project will feed FAS` South-South exchange program to reach Africa and Asia (where natural and social capital are also major assets) by demonstrating alternatives to elite-driven and unsustainable economic growth models. We will develop an innovative finance mechanism to make this a durable pathway for solving the problem over time, beyond the five-year period; and a learning platform to take advantage of FAS’ excellent networking capabilities.