Sustainable Industry

The Amazon is Brazil’s greatest competitive advantage, says Thomé

Marcelo Thomé – Director of Instituto Amazônia+21 who was introduced to Arab investors on a mission to the UAE – explains the purpose of the new initiative and speaks about the importance of Brazil focusing on green growth

Sustainability is not an option, but rather a requirement for any economic activity. As climate extreme events require more action from governments, business leaders and the civil society, sustainable development becomes a key assumption, including for the business world.

In order to support companies and new projects in the Amazon region and to act as an interface between them and investment funds and large corporations seeking to fund or participate in sustainable ventures, the Instituto Amazônia+21 (IAMZ+21) has been created through a partnership between the Federation of Industries of the State of Rondônia (FIERO) and the National Confederation of Industry (CNI).

The Institute’s director and president of FIERO Marcelo Thomé introduced today the new initiative to foreign investors at the Invest in Brazil forum hosted by Apex-Brasil in Dubai. Check out Thomé’s interview, where he discusses the organization’s goals and also talks about the opportunities for Brazil to leverage its growth from its biodiversity assets.

What is the Instituto Amazônia+21?

MARCELO THOMÉ: Instituto Amazônia+21 is an Amazon-based business initiative to promote sustainable business in the Amazon. From its inception, it has relied on support from the eight industry federations in the Legal Amazon states. This is an amazing advantage since it involves entrepreneurs who are familiar with the Amazon proposing the sustainable initiatives and business lines for the participation of large corporations from Brazil and the world, as well as investment funds and financial institutions with a stake in the conservation of our biome from sustainable business activities in the Amazon.

Instituto Amazônia+21’s initiative was mapped at the Amazônia+21 Global Forum in 2020. What did this event show?

MT: The Global Forum would be held in Porto Velho in 2020, but it was held entirely online as a result of the pandemic. There were 110 panelists and 120 institutions from various countries, plus 25,000 people attending the event in real time. It was quite a success. The discussions elicited various paths for the sustainable development of the Amazon, and they all involve protecting the rain forest and improving the quality of life of more than 23 million people who live in the Legal Amazon. It was apparent that the opportunity to bring money to pump our local economy lies in sustainable business.

The Amazon is a large consumer market that is eager to welcome sustainable businesses. How will the Institute act on this need?

MT: The Amazon is Brazil’s greatest competitive advantage in a world driven by the green economy. The Amazon has the best growth prospects in the country, it is the greatest national asset for sustainable development, and Instituto Amazônia+21 boasts a considerable advantage. It is the business community in the Amazon thinking about its own settings. It is a movement from the inside out. We will generate and promote projects with a positive impact based on unique features from this region. We will act as the link between those who produce and are familiar with the area and those who are seeking and committed to investing sustainably, thus becoming allies in the conservation of the Amazon. Protectionism through isolation or development at any cost are obsolete principles. Let’s turn this page.

In practice, how will the institute encourage research, development and innovation in the Amazon?

MT: By promoting sustainable business. The economy is driven by business, which requires investment in research, innovation and technology. For example, as an agribusiness company needs to reinvent itself to become sustainable, it seeks funding to find solutions for its production processes and its supply chain. And these solutions require research as part of the business plan in order to raise funds. This is how the market works, how research becomes possible and how innovations come about.

Technology and innovation, bioeconomy, green industry and a carbon market are strategic possibilities for the socio-economic development of the Amazon. How can this materialize?

MT: The green economy has everything to do with the Amazon. The Amazon biome is the most valuable base for generating wealth from sustainable businesses. The carbon market is a compensatory mechanism required by the industrialized world, and this is where our forests can provide the greatest assets. There is a large stock of degraded land for agricultural production to grow without encroaching an inch on the forest. The Amazon offers choices across all sectors – agriculture, tourism, industry, services. Now, ESG principles, environmental care, social responsibility, and good corporate governance are needed. The green economy demands it, consumers around the world demand it.

How will Instituto Amazônia+21 work?

MT: We are now in the initial implementation phase as we launch the Institute and engage with business leaders. We will soon enter the operational phase. The industry federations will be our liaison in the various states in the Amazon, the basis for assisting companies in the individual states in the region. We will have an executive office in São Paulo to work more closely with large corporations, financial institutions and investors.