There is no doubt about the importance of the Amazon region as a natural asset to the local communities and to the world. It provides more than 40% of Latin America’s fresh water, regulates air quality, stores carbon emissions, and controls nutrient and hydrological cycles for the South American continent.
Demographic and urban transition in the Amazon is occurring extremely quickly. It is estimated that urban population in the region increased from 1/3 in 1960 to 3/4 in 2010. Approximately 80% of Amazonian cities are considered small cities with less than 50,000 inhabitants. Large cities such as Belem (Brazil), Iquitos (Peru), or Florencia (Colombia) function as regional hubs for the provision of commerce and basic services, allowing for a broader economic diversification. The Manaus Industrial Pole alone generates half a million direct and indirect jobs and brings together more than 500 industries.
However, even with the economic opportunities available, about 40% of Amazonian residents now fall below poverty lines. This is because, presently, economic development in the Amazon is based on models and technologies that are not well adapted to the region’s reality. Extraction-oriented production, low productivity, high informality, violence, and illegal activities all add up to a context that limits human potential while degrading ecosystems.
The Amazon also has noticeable gaps in connectivity and infrastructure for basic services, including clean water, education, and healthcare. About half of the people in the Amazon Basin live far from cellphone towers or internet access, and more than 60% of urban populations in this region live in vulnerable conditions.
So, what can we do?
Collaboration and collective action are vital to implement concerted efforts across the Amazon region to reduce deforestation, create sustainable livelihoods and restore degraded ecosystems to strengthen the region’s climate mitigation and adaptation capacity. Collaboration is also key to develop innovative solutions which can benefit the Amazon population, including Indigenous Populations and Local Communities _IPLCs and offer them socio-environmentally sustainable opportunities.
What do we do at the IDB?
In response to this challenge, the IDB established the Amazon Initiative. The Amazon Initiative mobilizes public and private resources and coordinates IDB’s financial and technical assistance to stimulate sustainable and inclusive development models and accelerate the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Amazonian communities and territories.
The Amazon Initiative has three financial mechanisms: a seed fund with ordinary capital (US$ 20 million), a multi-donor trust fund (US$ 43 million), and a bioeconomy Fund (US$ 279 million), through which the IDB Group leverage ordinary capital, mobilizes public and private resources, and channels the IDB’s expertise and social and environmental policies.
To date, the Amazon Initiative is contributing to:
- Financing of BIO businesses for a Sustainable Amazon in Ecuador
(US$ 24.75 million Loan with Technical Assistance and Investment Grant – in preparation). This program aimsto promote productive activity based on nature, by facilitating access to inclusive credit for BIO businesses, to contribute to economic development in collaboration with other stakeholders to maximize solutions and build on progress already made. The project also plans to commit a pre-established percentage to women-led companies and indigenous-owned business, thereby contributing to improving levels of gender equity and diversity inclusion.
- Supporting Colombia’s effort to preserve the Amazon through their Deforestation Containment Plan: From deforestation hotspots to Forest Development Nuclei (US$ 450,000 Technical cooperation with an additional US$ 3.5 million in investment grants pending approval) The goal is to address the needs of resident communities (particularly indigenous population and rural peasants), reduce emissions and avoid deforestation, by structuring and implementing innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable forestry and BIO economy models.
- Accelerating and supporting the “Descarboniza Pará” Policy for Sustainable Development in the Amazon in Brazil (US$ 300 million Policy reform loan, US$ 1.6 million Technical Cooperation in preparation, and US$ 500,000 Payment for Environmental Services pilot project). The proposed intervention in the State of Pará aims to: (i) accelerate structural reforms of public policies to promote carbon-efficient and sustainable economic development; (ii) support the implementation of policy reforms; and (iii) structure a Payment for Environmental Services (PES) Program to meet the goals of the Amazônia Agora Plan of socioeconomic development through the neutralization of greenhouse gas emissions from land use and deforestation; while also promoting gender, equality and inclusion in policy reforms towards a green economy.
- Strengthening Indigenous Organizations and local communities (IPLCs) (US$ 656,000 Technical Assistance): The IDB Amazon Initiative has the mandate to work directly and in coordination with Indigenous peoples, local communities, and Afro-descendants and is focusing on supporting their institutional strengthening. The Bank is currently financing the institutional strengthening of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) and the National Organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC).
Toward the Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors of the IDB and IDB Invest
The Inter-American Development Bank will hold its Annual Meeting in Panama City from March 15th through 18th. This is a forum for discussion among our Governors, usually the Ministers of Finance, Economy, Planning, Presidents of Central Banks, or other high authorities of the member countries. Also in attendance are representatives of multilateral financial institutions, development, and private banks.
The conference will be complemented by a rich program of activities, including a session focused on Biodiversity on March 16th, in which biodiversity, development and inclusion in the Amazon will be discussed.
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For more information about the Assembly click here
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