Amazon Collaboratory

Brazil - Amazon

Amazon Collaboratory

Main contact points:

Odir Dellagostin (President, CONFAP), Maria Zaira Turchi (Director for Institutional Cooperation, CNPq), Carlos Pacheco (President, FAPESP), Ramiro Wahrhaftig (President, Fundação Auracária), Marcio Spinosa (Scientific Director, Fundação Auracária), Elisa Natola (Advisor for International Cooperation, CONFAP), Marcelo Fabricio Prim (Executive Manager, SENAI National Department), Pedro Lage Viana (MPEG), Fernanda de Pinho Werneck (INPA)

CONFAP (National Council of State Funding Agencies), Brazil
CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development), Brazil

SENAI, Brazil

Official Document

“Cabouco” – Amazon local inhabitant, Amazon, Brasil, 2022; by Rui Ribeiro

The imperative: the current model of Amazonian development is leading to a rapid destruction of its unique and incredibly biodiverse ecosystems

The preservation of the Amazon Rainforest ecosystem is critical for limiting global mean temperature rise to within 1.5 ºC, as the region stores 120 billion tons of carbon, or the equivalent of about ten years of all the world’s burning of fossil fuels. However, changes in land use and cover, associated with poorly planned mining, agriculture, logging, and hydroelectric projects are quickly contributing to biodiversity and ecosystem services loss in the region. As a key nexus in global climate, the Amazon presents itself as one of the great complex problems of today.

Research projects about the Amazon region have the potential to support and underpin public policy decisions, as well as evidence-based public and private investments. But the articulation between the outcomes of research with other economic sectors is still considered a huge bottleneck to the full enjoyment of the region’s vast resources.

The project aims to leverage existing activities promoted through the Amazonia +10 Initiative through a myriad of government and non-governmental institutions. It is to be coordinated through a Collaboratory involving local partners and cofunding from FAPESP (São Paulo Research Funding Foundation) and other Funding Foundations members of CONFAP (National Council of State Funding Agencies), and CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development).

The Pan-Amazon is home to 47 million people and Brazilian Legal Amazon is home to 30 million people. Land-use changes reinforce global climate change, leading to positive feedback mechanisms that reduce forest resilience. As a result, the development of a dynamic bioeconomy requires strengthening the value chains of biodiversity products by merging scientific and traditional knowledge.

The Amazon+10 Initiative was recently launched (June 2022) to support collaborative research projects oriented to biodiversity conservation, adaptation to climate change, protection of traditional peoples and communities, urban challenges, and the bioeconomy as contributions to economic development policy for the Amazon. Initially comprising FAPESP and the nine states of the Brazilian Amazon region, the initial projects involved the participation of public research funding agencies in 20 Brazilian states (São Paulo, Amazonas, Rio de Janeiro, Pará, Paraná, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Rio Grande do Sul, Amapá, Federal District, Alagoas, Goiás, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rondônia, Espírito Santo, Piauí, Santa Catarina, Acre, and Tocantins).

Revolving around four main pillars (Biodiversity and Climate Change; Protection of Traditional Communities; Urban Challenges of the Legal Amazon and Bioeconomy as an Economic Development Policy) the Initiative already congregates 20 subnational states in Brazil, all of them represented by their public agencies for the funding of research. In the next months, a series of activities are being programmed to form a community of public and private actors (both local and foreign to the Amazon) that will help to define the research priorities of the region and the main outcomes and outputs of the Initiative.

In doing so, we expect that, through transdisciplinary research and focus on the implementation of its results, science can be the main drive for the transition to sustainable development in the Amazon Region. In the long run, the unique set of natural resources located in the Amazon can serve as a basis for the establishment of an actual Silicon Valley of biodiversity, that is, a world reference center for low carbon agriculture, nature-derived materials, bioengineering, genetics and biochemistry, and the establishment of new regulatory frameworks that reward both the protection of genetic heritage (in-situ and ex-situ) and the offer of ecosystem services – ultimately, a world-renowned center for all things considered as biotechnology.

The initiative has recently finalized its first call, with the following results:

  • 39 research projects were selected in three major thematic areas: Territory, Peoples of the Amazon and Strengthening sustainable production chains.
  • The first call for proposals of the +10 Amazon Initiative mobilized more than 500 researchers in 20 Brazilian states. 39 proposals were selected from 18 states, plus the Federal District, with investments from State Funding Agencies (FAPs) totaling R$ 41.9 million.
  • In addition to the FAPs' investments, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) announced the contribution of R$ 12 million in research grants for projects approved in the states that compose the Legal Amazon Region.

Overall, the purpose of Amazon+10 is to mobilize researchers throughout Brazil, but especially in the Amazon, to study and offer concrete solutions to the challenges to sustainable development in the Amazon, including alternative job creation and opportunities for income generation for the people who live in the region. It focuses on solutions considered indispensable to the advancement of sustainable development of Amazonia, observing three priorities:

  • Territories with infrastructure and logistics that facilitate multiscale sustainable development;
  • Inhabitants of the Amazon as protagonists of biodiversity knowledge and valorization and of adaptation to climate change;
  • Strengthening of sustainable supply chains by inhabitants of the Amazon.

The most important action to be taken has been considered to be focused on the commitment to conserve, restore, remediate the rainforest and invest in knowledge to create economically and environmentally sustainable activities to keep the rainforest standing. Under this context, the goal of the new initiative includes leveraging the existing projects and consider two main tasks, as follows:

  • Amazon Data Centre, including a Natural Product Library and physical/digital collections on the socio-biodiversity of Amazon, including:
    • Biological collections (zoological collections; herbaria; viruses and fungi);
    • Anthropology (~50 unknown languages, about of the world, with the largest global number of isolated populations);
    • Digitization of available collections;
    • Development of digital twins of existing biomes;
    • The Amazon natural Product Library will consider diversified approaches and including:
      • biodiversity mapping, and scientific expeditions;
      • expansion and safeguarding of available biological collections;
      • bioeconomy chains, and natural products chemistry;
      • metabolomics, high throughput screening;
      • digitization of collections;
      • development of forest digital twins.

  • Improved understanding of the physics of climate change in Amazon, through advanced remote sensing, technological developments and applications, including the development of radar satellites, artificial intelligence, data science and mapping, taking into consideration the following:
    • Further development of Brazilian competencies, including those at INPE and research groups at universities, as well as through related activities (Landsat, Saci, SSR, SCD, CBERS) and Deforestation actions (Prodes, Deter);
    • Promotion of new NGO actors, including MapBioma and Imazon;
    • Further development of Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere in the Amazon (LBA), with several countries;
    • Further participation in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and leadership of the scientific committee of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP).

  • Scale-up / spill-over phase of most promising solutions, with the support of SENAI’s Innovation Institutes, including:
    • Development of match funding mechanisms, with public and industrial sector;
    • Development of pilot-plants for most promissing chemicals that were identified from the Amazon Data Centre;
    • Development of value chains, in partnership with with public and industrial sector;
    • Hosting international researchers;
    • Development of human capital in Brazil, mostly focused on tradicional / local communities in the Amazon Region;
    • development of solutions for traceability of origin (e.g. with the use of blockchain).

Existing repositories and libraries to be considered under the future Collaboratory include:

  • MPEG – “Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi” (Belém, Pará): The 150-year-old collections, with 1.75 million records, more than 775,000 deposited and digitized in eleven biological collections;
  • INPA – “Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia” (Manaus, Amazonas): major reference for Amazonian biodiversity. Biological Scientific Collections Program (PCCB) organized into curatorship on three main thematic areas: Microorganisms, Herbarium, and Zoological (Invertebrates, Fishes, Amphibians and Reptiles, Birds, Mammals and Genetic Resources), that together house > 1.2 million records of its ever-expanding collections. The INPA Herbarium is the largest in the Brazilian Amazon, with more than 237,000 registered copies and is available online;
  • JBRJ – “Jardim Botánico, Rio de Janeiro”: connecting with the “Flora e Funga do Brasil” Project, which gathers online a list of species of Brazilian Flora and Funga, including nomenclatural information, diagnostic morphology and geographic distribution (coverage in Brazil, endemism and biomes), as well as valuable data regarding life forms, substrate and vegetation types for each species;
  • CPA: Digital Repositories of Tropical Forests for the development of scientific, technological and innovation research, oriented to solving problems in tropical forest regions and Amazon;
  • SiBBr – Brazilian Biodiversity Information System (MCTI/RNP): 23.8 million records – 161 institutions and 412 collections
  • LNBio – “Laboratório Nacional de Biociências”: 1,000 active principles - high throughput screening (HTS)
  • UNESP: 3,000 active ingredients
  • FioCruz Foundation: Collection of Bacteria from the Amazon (CBAM)
  • Embrapa
  • Instituto Evandro Chagas (MS) – Belém
  • SENAI: Institute for Biosynthetics (Rio de Janeiro), Institute for Biodiversity (Brasília), Institute for Mineral Technologies (Belém, Pará), Institute for Microeletronics (Manaus, Amazonas)
  • Fraunhofer IGB - Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB