The future of the Amazon region partly rests on how the private sector will balance development vs. environmental conservation. They face the question of how to invest effectively in sustainable business, thus avoiding an extractive path which has local to global negative consequences. A new partnership aims to build capacity, generate new collaborations and increase investment in sustainable business practices in the Brazilian Amazon.

The Partners for the Amazon platform was launch last December 6 and 7 in Manaus, Brazil. The platform will provide its members a space to share and learn from experiences in social and environmental corporate responsibility. Yet, more importantly, the partnership will identify and engage in the implementation of shared project initiatives that respond to current social and environmental challenges in the Amazon region.

The launch event included high-level participation of P. Michael McKinley, the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, and of Sarah-Ann Lynch, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, representatives of various Manaus-based and international companies were in attendance, including Coca Cola, Ambev, Dow, KPMG, 3M, and Bemol. All companies with an interest in conserving natural resources and encouraging an environment for sustainable growth in the Amazon region are invited to participate in the platform.

The Partners for the Amazon initiative is being developed based on a previous USAID experience in Sao Paulo. Another private sector platform created ten years ago and still going strong, called Mais Unidos, has focused on providing young people in under-resourced settings with language skills that will render them more competitive in the work place. To date, Mais Unidos has invested more than $3 Million on scholarships and language computer laboratories that have improved the lives of thousands of students. The Partners for the Amazon initiative seeks to replicate this success. The expectation is for the new platform to be a self-sustaining and managed partnership that includes companies in the Amazon with a strong desire to be socially and environmentally responsible, and be recognized for it.

The platform’s first steering committee meeting took place the day after the launch, marking the start of the first-year activities that will conclude in December 2018 with the first general assembly meeting. Until then, much work lays ahead for the platform members and for the executive committee composed by USAID, CIAT and IDESAM. CIAT’s role helping coordinate the initiative includes activity planning, the allocation of funding, and the documentation of the platform itself. The initiative will design a methodology for replicating private-sector platform initiatives elsewhere.

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