The Nature Conservancy was pleased to convene and moderate a panel
discussion with leaders from key tropical forest countries - Brazil,
Indonesia and Mexico - where we have been working with partners for
years to create a greener development approach.
The leaders on
the panel are on the front line of economic development and climate
challenges. Their economies rely on the development of their natural
resources: oil and gas, minerals, timber, agriculture or natural
features important for tourism. And these systems are all facing intense
These leaders sit at the intersection of the
environment, climate and politics. They’re balancing the need to help
lift some of their citizens out of poverty, keep an eye on their
long-term future and be mindful of their society’s dependence on their
Yet it’s clear that these leaders understand the
importance of protecting their ecosystems and recognize that raising
incomes and reducing poverty can go hand-in-hand with conserving our
For example, Rafael Muñoz, Secretary of
Ecology and Environment for Mexico’s Quintana Roo State, noted that in
the face of rising demand for beef, we need to become more efficient in
how we use land for cattle grazing.
Daddy Ruhiyat, Chairman of
the Climate Change Council in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, shared that
his province plans to double its palm oil footprint from 1 million to 2
million hectares but will do so on already-degraded land.
Justiano Netto, State Secretary of the Green Municipalities Program of
Pará, Brazil, noted that his government and its citizens of course want
to grow their economy - but not at the expense of the Amazon.
these leaders face multiple daunting challenges, they seem resolute in
their focus on protecting their ecosystems while creating initiatives
that work for the people who live there.
We need these leaders
to be bold and push hard for the environmental progress we seek. But
it’s these officials and their citizens who need to lead the charge.