Innovative report calls for a new security agenda for Amazonia

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The Global Canopy Programme and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture issue a report which shows that threats to Amazonia’s water, energy, food and health security will be multiplied in coming decades by climate change, creating severe risks for people, governments and economies across South America.

Safeguarding tropical forests Earth's richest natural capital

Global Canopy Programme

Unprecedented droughts have shown us just what happens when water security falters: it impacts food, energy production, it affects the wellbeing of entire populations and leaves governments and businesses with a big bill to pay.

In a report released today, the Global Canopy Programme and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture call for a new security agenda for Amazonia and its countries. One that focuses not only on national security in a traditional sense, but acts to strengthen the fundamental underpinnings of a flourishing society: sustained access to water, energy, food and good health for all.

Manuel Pulgar, Minister of Environment for Peru (host country of the UNFCCC Climate Change Summit COP 20 – December 2014) said, “Climate change is a global problem, but one that will multiply local and regional problems in unforeseeable ways. In Latin America, we have taken Amazonia and its seemingly limitless water and forests as a given. But recent unprecedented droughts have shown us just what happens when that water security falters: it impacts food and energy production, it affects the wellbeing of entire populations, and it leaves governments and businesses with a big bill to pay. The science is clear, so we cannot afford to miss the opportunity for positive action now.”

The report, developed with input from science experts and political leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, lays out initial recommendations as building blocks for dialogue and action in each of these countries. Since Amazonia’s ecosystems are shared between countries, there is also a need for governments to collaborate on coordinated responses to these shared risks.

Carlos Klink, Brazil’s National Secretary for Climate Change and Environmental Quality, said: “We are understanding more and more how interdependent water, food, energy and health security are across our continent. There is also interdependence between the countries that share the Amazon, which recycles trillions of tons of water that all our people and economies rely on. The challenge that we are just beginning to recognise and act upon is one of transitioning to a more sustainable economy - one that values the role of a healthy Amazonia in underpinning long-term security and prosperity.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

European media inquiries:
Rachel Mountain
Head of Communications
Global Canopy Programme
Email: r.mountain(at)globalcanopy(dot)org
Tel: +44 (0)1865 724333

Latin American media inquiries:
Jorge Villanueva, Communications Officer Latin America and Caribbean
Climate Development & Knowledge Network Latin America & Caribbean (CDKN LAC)
Email: jorge.villanueva(at)cdkn(dot)org
Tel: +51 1 991677868

Notes to editors:

1)    About the Amazonian Security Agenda report and animation

To see the full report and animation visit:

Key findings from the report

a)    Amazonia’s water is vital for the region’s economies:

  •     Nearly 20% of the rainfall in the La Plata basin (a region that generates 70% of the GDP of the 5 countries that share it) comes from Amazonia.
  •     Amazonian hydropower is vital for national electricity needs across the region: 39% in Ecuador, 35% in Bolivia, 22% in Peru, and 11% in Brazil. There is huge remaining potential (less than 1% exploited in Peru).

b)    Tens of billions of dollars are being generated annually from Amazonia’s vast natural resources, but often with high environmental and social costs.

  •     Soyabean grain and beef from Brazil’s Legal Amazonia generated $7 billion and $1.6 billion respectively in export revenues in 2012.
  •     99% Ecuador’s oil came from Amazonia, enabling crude oil exports of nearly $9 billion in 2010.

c)    Large-scale economic development in Amazonia has historically resulted in large-scale deforestation. But by compromising Amazonia’s natural resources, deforestation now threatens not only the rights and wellbeing of local people, but also the sustainability of these economic activities themselves.

  •     As many as 60% in the Bolivian Amazon, 37% in Ecuador, 23% in Peru and 17% in Brazil are estimated to be below the extreme poverty line.
  •     In the region of Madre de Dios, Peru, where large quantities of mercury have been used in gold-mining, 78% of adults in the regional capital tested for levels of mercury above international safety limits.
  •     Regional deforestation predicted to impact hydropower output, Belo Monte dam power output projected to be up to 36% lower by 2050 than in a fully forested scenario if current deforestation rates continue.
  •     Large-scale deforestation is predicted to reduce rainfall by up to 21% by 2050
  •     21% of Amazonia is under some form of mining concessions and 18% of these overlap with officially recognised Indigenous Territories.

d)    Climate change will increasingly multiply the threats to Amazonia’s security.

  •     Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme events. One model predicts that Amazonia may suffer drought every other year by 2025.
  •     All-important rainfall patterns are changing, and while uncertain, we may expect a wetter western and drier eastern Amazon by 2050.
  •     Rising temperatures, potentially up by a game-changing 3.5 degrees C on average in Amazonia by 2050
  •     A recent study suggests that continued deforestation and climate change could lead to a 28% reduction in soya bean yields by 2050.

2)    About the Global Canopy Programme
The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) is a tropical forest think tank working to demonstrate the scientific, political and business case for safeguarding forest ecosystems as natural capital that underpins water, food, energy, health and climate security for all.

3)    About the International Center for Tropical Agriculture
CIAT works with partners in developing countries to develop technologies, methods and knowledge that better enable farmers in the tropics to achieve eco-efficient agriculture, i.e. competitive and profitable as well as sustainable and resilient, to contribute substantially to reducing hunger and poverty. CIAT is based near Cali, Colombia, with regional offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hanoi, Vietnam.

4) About the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)
The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) aims to help decision-makers in developing countries design and deliver climate compatible development. We do this by providing demand-led research and technical assistance, and channeling the best available knowledge on climate change and development to support policy processes at the country level. CDKN is managed by an alliance of six organisations that brings together a wide range of expertise and experience.

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Rachel Mountain
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