At the technical and scientific meeting held today in Leticia, Colombia, local and international representatives from the Amazon voiced their commitment to the region’s sustainable development. Participants highlighted how critical the region is for Amazonian countries, for climate stability, and for the global conservation of biodiversity.
Attendees also stressed the important role cities have in protecting the Amazon and promoting sustainable development, and they agreed to join together to overcome the challenges of preserving the region.
The meeting was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Cities Network and Colombia's SINCHI Amazonian Scientific Research Institute and was attended by various civil society and academic organizations, as well as local, subnational, and national government entities. Together, they analyzed how cities can play a key part in protecting the Amazon and sustainably advancing the region’s socioeconomic development, especially given that 62% of its population now lives in urban areas, according to 2009 data.
Participants emphasized the need to unite to develop a strategic plan for sustainable Amazonian cities that includes components like institutional strengthening, social development, economic diversification, and climate action. This dialogue was an important step in building consensus for the Belém Summit (Brazil) and the Forum on Amazonian Cities, to be held in Belém city prior to the Presidential Summit.
This commitment from local Amazon stakeholders comes days after the launch of Amazonia Forever, a holistic and multidimensional program supported by the IDB that fosters sustainable, inclusive, and resilient development in the region. The program focuses on scaling up financing, innovation in financial instruments, increased strategic knowledge for decision-making, and regional coordination.
Amazonia Forever encompasses four priority work areas, one of which is sustainable cities.
"Amazonian cities are strategic places to solve the region’s economic, environmental, and social challenges. To achieve concrete impacts, we see it as crucial to work as a network and support Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization countries in this transition towards sustainable development," said María Camila Uribe, coordinator of the IDB Cities Network.
"We are in a unique position to further the sustainable development of the Amazon, and the main resource we can draw on is the accumulation of knowledge in our cities. Sharing good practices and valuing the knowledge of traditional peoples can help us preserve natural resources while bolstering socio-economic development," said Nélio Aguiar, mayor of Santarém.
The Amazon region and its area of influence is currently home to around 60 million people, of whom three million are indigenous and more than five million are Afro descendants. Up to 70% of South America’s gross domestic product is produced in areas that receive water from the Amazon, a statistic that illustrates its crucial role as an economic engine.
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Salgado Derqui, Javier Jose
Extl Affairs - Commun Consultant