Mourão seeks funding to finance bioeconomy in Amazon
Bioeconomy is the government’s business model for the region
Published in 04/09/2020 - 13:19 By Pedro Ivo de Oliveira - Brasília
Brazil’s vice-President Hamilton Mourão, also in charge of the National Legal Amazon Council, said in an interview to news outlets of Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) that one cannot dissociate the business model the government intends to implement, dubbed bioeconomy, from the sustainability goal for the economic activities of the Amazon peoples.
In a previous interview, Mourão had stated he believes the bioeconomic model—a term used to define a market based on recyclable, renewable biological resources, with conscious consumption and exploration—to be the best alternative. “The Amazon, due to its characteristics, is no place for scale production. It’s a place for sustainable production, using the richness of existing biodiversity. We have to map out value chains, improve the sustainable logistic structure—the use of water ways, the construction of small ports to transport goods—and, of course, attract the attention of private investment.”
On the money kept at the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) from the Amazon Fund, he stated it should be an important fund of resources in modernizing the region. The resources, he said, will be invested in projects linked to bioeconomy.
“We’ve started talks with the two main donors: Germany and Norway. They await the outcome of operation Brazil Green II, which starts showing a falling trend in deforestation and fires. This should allow us to unblock stagnant resources at the BNDES and support projects aimed at the development of the Amazon,” the vice-president declared. BNDES manages the resources in the fund.
Started in May this year, operation Brazil Green II was extended until November 6, 2002. Spearheaded by Mourão himself, it deploys the armed forces in preventive and repressive efforts against environmental crimes and illegal deforestation, in addition to fighting fires.
The vice-president also revealed he requested non-refundable funds from banks in the region for the protection and preservation of the Amazon. “The big companies have looked to modern environmental, social, and corporate (ESG) agenda. I’ve talked to banks active in the region and the idea is that they should adopt financing lines with better interests for activities directed at bioeconomy. And, of course, they should invest in local preservation as they can,” he said.
It is important to understand, he went on to argue, that the topic of sustainability is part of the way of life in the 21st century. The main companies plan on investing in the environmental, social, and governance agenda. We have 66 percent of our vegetation coverage intact, 84 percent in the case of the Amazon. We have to present ourselves to investors, both Brazilian and international, as a partner respecting the environmental legislation,” he told Agência Brasil.
The modernization of techniques
The government’s view on bioeconomy is a modern one, Mourão pointed out, and has a social focus and is founded on the concept of governance—the interplay of several social, political, and economic actors, which join forces and plan collective actions for a given area, generating norms and creating social institutions.
Mourão believes that part of the solution for healthy economic activities in the Amazon is rural technical assistance, with the adequate education, and advanced technology. Raising awareness on the importance of sustainability for the local people is also a crucial element in the approach adopted by the government.
To meet this goal, the vice-president argues that the over 500 thousand families settled in the Amazon area must receive the ownership titles of the territories they occupy as soon as possible—a process that has dragged on since the 70s but has picked up speed in the current administration.
The vice-president mentioned the technique that employs vegetation fires for soil preparation, which he described as an obsolete and uninformed method of dealing with the environment. “Our campaign is ‘say yes to life and no to fires.’ This kind soil preparation [with fires] is archaic and no longer should gain ground in the world we live in. With the land ownership titles, the families will have access to rural technical assistance, which will enable them to treat the land better,” he declared.
“What I want to tell everybody is: We’ll prevent the fires. I ask all residents in the Amazon to have this awareness,” Mourão said.
Translation: Fabrício Ferreira - Edition: Wellton Máximo / Nira Foster