Sustainable Infrastructure in the Amazon: Brazil Country Case Study
October 26, 2020
Brazil’s Amazon Basin has undergone a rapid process of urbanization and population growth, bringing it from a population of approximately 7 million inhabitants in the mid-1960s to 29 million today. The expansion that came with this migration has stressed the ecologically delicate region and marginalized indigenous groups, while the region’s relative remoteness means that the Brazilian state still struggles to provide security and deter illegal activity. Today, Brazil faces multiple threats that are destabilizing the Amazon region, including illegal activities (logging, drug trafficking, and mining) and climate change. At the same time, deforestation in the Amazon threatens to worsen climate change and disrupt rainfall patterns across South America, impacting agricultural production, which accounts for 5.2 percent of Brazil’s GDP. Since the 1960s, Brazilian government has invested in large-scale infrastructure projects in an effort to develop the Amazon region. However, megaprojects like dams and roads often have exacerbated the destabilization of the region, degrading the environment, facilitating illegal enterprises, and provoking social conflicts with Indigenous communities. To promote sustainable development in the Amazon, Brazilian officials must look beyond megaprojects and address the underlying governance and security challenges. Better planning and implementation would maximize economic benefits while minimizing social and environmental costs.
This project was made possible by generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.