Making Sustainable Development a Reality in the Amazon

Experts joined a discussion about sustainable economic opportunities in the rainforest.


  • Andrea Álvares, Chief Brand, Innovation, International, and Sustainability Officer, Natura
  • Marina Grossi, President, Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Denis Minev, CEO, Bemol; Angel investor in sustainable Amazon projects
  • Beto Veríssimo, Co-Founder, Imazon
  • Brian Winter, Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly (moderator)

In an AS/COA event launching the new Americas Quarterly (AQ) issue, panelists spoke of why the rainforest is more valuable to Brazil and other countries when it’s standing. AQ Editor-in-Chief Brian Winter opened the conversation posing the question of what kind of virtuous circle would induce people to take better care of the forest. Beto Veríssimo, Marina Grossi, and Andrea Álvares all concurred that the biggest challenge for sustainable development in the Amazon is uncontrolled deforestation, though Álvares said that it's a symptom of greater problems, noting there is a "biased view that economic development cannot occur simultaneous to conservation." Denis Minev, on the other hand, said the biggest obstacle to sustainable development is informality in the Amazon, and added: "When you have an economy as informal as the Amazonian economy, nothing works…nobody accumulated wealth, and environmental destruction is a byproduct."

The panelists also spoke about the evolution of sustainable development in the Amazon over the past few years. Grossi said it's changing completely, and she recognizes a second look from the business sector and Brazilians alike in seeing the forest as part of a greater identity. Minev spoke of a distorted view of what the Amazon actually is and the opportunities it presents. "We talk too much about deforestation and too little about reforestation," he said. Veríssimo then noted the importance of international collaboration on many fronts for long-term investment "to create an ecosystem for development to flourish."