Annual Progress Report Released on USAID's Work in the Amazon

USAID recently published the Amazon Vision 2021 Report which provides insight into the results of USAID’s work in biodiversity and sustainable landscape initiatives. In 2021, USAID activities improved land management of more than 45 million hectares of biologically significant areas and trained more than 12,000 people in sustainable natural resource management or biodiversity conservation. U.S. activities also resulted in improved capacity of 58 NGOs, government agencies, Indigenous communities, and other organizations to sustainably manage landscapes across the region.

Some one-third of all known plant, animal, and insect species can be found in the Amazon basin. This remarkable biodiversity contributes to the overall well-being of the ecosystems and communities of the region. And the benefits of a healthy Amazon extend beyond those who live and work in the region to the rest of the planet.

Preventing biodiversity loss slows climate change. One of the greatest challenges to protecting biodiversity is improving conservation and protected area management across the remote areas of the region. Designating parts of the Amazon as protected areas, and ensuring that these protections are enforced, can help prevent destructive and unsustainable practices such as poaching and illegal harvesting, logging, land trafficking, and mining. But local actors often have limited capacity and resources to enforce laws and regulations. In addition, sometimes economic development policies are at odds with efforts to protect these areas, which can create a dangerous environment for local actors and environmental defenders, especially Indigenous Peoples.

To address these challenges, USAID and its partners protect key landscapes and species across the Amazon by combating environmental crimes in protected areas and building capacity for improved management. This work takes place under the Agency’s Amazon Vision, a strategy developed in 2016 to guide USAID’s response to threats to the biodiversity, ecosystems, and communities of the Amazon basin. The Amazon Vision unifies the Agency’s goals to combat deforestation, conserve biodiversity, create environmentally friendly economic opportunities, improve the management of important landscapes, and support Indigenous rights in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname.

Fortunately, policies, laws, and regulations are shifting to better address biodiversity conservation and other environmental concerns. For example, USAID funding and engagement with civil society organizations in Ecuador contributed to two important achievements: In 2020 Ecuador ratified the Escazú Agreement, a regional pact to protect environmental defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean, paving the way for the agreement to go into effect in 2021; Ecuador also joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which has brought more transparency to the national government’s handling of energy and mining tenders through a requirement to make all tenders publicly available. These are just two examples of 92 laws, policies, or regulations that address biodiversity conservation and/or other environmental themes that were proposed, adopted, or implemented through USAID partnerships with government and local actors last year. These partnerships also resulted in the training of 1,600 individuals in improved conservation law enforcement practices, which community-based agencies, organizations, and communities are currently applying.

Partnerships like these contribute to the Agency’s larger efforts to maintain a healthy and resilient Amazon that is valued by society, ensures human well-being, and safeguards our global climate. As USAID continues to invest in the region, the Agency will continue to track the impact and the stories related to its work with governments to protect key landscapes and species across the region.

Read the full report here.

Lindsey Spanner is a Communications Associate at Environmental Incentives supporting AREP.