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Amazonia concentrates the essential contradictions of our era: our planet’s lung is being devastated by rampant deforestation, predatory mining, and chaotic urbanization. Its peoples may have been able to preserve the potential of their surrounding biodiversity, but Amazonia suffers from “bad” governance: it is deprived of a collective and rational management of its resources. Worse, it is an arena of recurrent Human Rights violations, with as primary victims its poorest, most humble inhabitants.
This publication gathers documents resulting from the first seminar of the Forum for a new World Governance around the question: “What Amazonia Does the World Need?”
Gustavo Marin, Director, Forum for a new World Governance
History is marked with cities, regions, and territories that have played a particularly important symbolic role as places in which the destiny of a people, a society, or even of the whole world have found themselves at a crossroads. Amazonia is definitely one of these places. It is a concentrate of our essential contemporary contradictions: this ocean of vegetation, this gigantic territory through which flows the longest river in the world, this, our planet’s lung, is being devastated by rampant deforestation, predatory mining, and chaotic urbanization. Carved apart by nationstates along lines that do not even follow natural river or forest boundaries and cut through human-community settlements, Amazonia is broken up by borders obstructing the new winds of a globalized world. Its peoples may have been able to preserve the potential of their surrounding biodiversity, but Amazonia suffers from “bad” governance: it is deprived of a collective and rational management of its resources. Worse, it is an arena of recurrent Human Rights violations, with as primary victims its poorest, most humble inhabitants.
Yet although Amazonia concentrates all possible dangers, not only to its inhabitants but also for the planet’s ecological balances, it also represents a territory for life and the future. The game is not over. In this dawning of the twenty-first century, it is poised to become one of those essential places where humankind will find the biological, political, and cultural resources of a new relationship—with the biosphere and among all peoples—founded on dignity and solidarity. Amazonia can be the fertile field of a true school of “good” governance if it is looked after as a common and valuable good, first by Brazilians (65% of Amazonia is within Brazilian borders) and the people of the South American countries surrounding it, but also by all the Earth’s inhabitants. Despite the difficulties, Amazonia is in fact one of the areas where new mechanisms for a responsible, effective, and legitimate governance are being invented.
This is why we took the initiative, together with Cândido Grzybowski, Director of IBASE, to organize in Rio de Janeiro, in May 2008, the first seminar of the Forum for a new World governance around the question: “What Amazonia does the world need?” The seminar was backed by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind, an independent Swiss foundation devoted to mobilizing knowledge and experiences to face the major challenges of our times.
This publication comprises three documents: the discussion paper by Cândido Grzybowski, the seminar report by Patrick Piro, journalist at Politis (France), and an Afterword written by Arnaud Blin, coordinator of the Forum for a new World Governance, in which the proposals drawn up during the seminar are correlated with world governance.