Photo: AVINAPhoto: AVINAPhoto: AVINA


The Amazon is a vast territory that occupies the central and northern part of South America, covering the tropical forest of the Amazon River basin. This basin has an area of more than seven million square kilometers, of which five and a half million are covered by the largest rainforest in the world.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide come from deforestation and exploitation of land. In Latin America, more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation, mainly in the Amazonian region.

Deforestation affects between 15% and 18% of the Amazon biome shared by nine nations. If the current rate of deforestation continues over a period of 15 to 20 years, the Amazon’s ecosystem will collapse, reducing its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere and upsetting the pattern of rainfall across the continent.

According to the Ministry of Environment of Brazil, the main causes of deforestation in the Amazon biome include:

  • Institutional weakness of central government agencies and state officials responsible for monitoring and managing the problem.
  • Opening of roads and other infrastructure without any previous organizational planning or environmental consideration.
  • Absence of public policies (credits, technical assistance and research) valuing the forest, encouraging environmental management and services, and making better use of already deforested areas.
  • Illegal occupation of land in areas where deforestation has been used as a weapon to differentiate property, often in situations of social conflict.
  • Establishment of rural settlements in unsuitable areas, with little chance of survival for families.
  • Expansion of agribusiness.

Opportunity identified by Avina

Avina and its allies have made a goal to conserve 80% of the Amazonian biome to ensure ecosystem sustainability and the appropriate quality of life for local populations.


Avina and Its Allies: Strategy for Action

Avina and its allies have designed a strategy that focuses on:

  • Strengthen forest accountability by using technology to monitor forests and alert authorities about incidents of fires and illegal activities, such as logging.
  • Encourage new environmental economics compatible with the permanence of the forest.
  • Promote appreciation of the cultures and knowledge of the communities in the region.

This strategy gives priority to the role of local organizations and their vision of change while strengthening and promoting their leadership. In addition, it involves international allies that may enhance the capacity of nations in the Amazonian basin to take care of their heritage, not only for their own benefit, but for that of the planet as well.

Current conditions favor a strategy that incorporates the nine countries sharing the Amazonian basin. Attending to global climate change is a valuable opportunity to achieve collaboration beyond Latin American borders.


  • The Amazonian Regional Coordination Network (ARA), convened by Avina, consists of 24 Latin American organizations active in the Amazonian region.
  • The Skoll Foundation, with whom Avina has a joint investment of USD 6 million over three years.

  • The Environmental Prosecutor Network in Latin America.
  • Climate Works, to promote the reduction of emissions from deforestation in Brazil.
  • The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, to promote the reduction of emissions from deforestation in Brazil.


Among the challenges faced by Avina is the development of a common vision between leaders and local organizations of the Amazonian biome and its diverse population, and the achievement of a shared objective promoting integrated initiatives against prevailing fragmented perspectives.

Another challenge is to secure collaborative work between donors, entrepreneurs, civil society and public institutions to strengthen joint actions, multiply achievements and identify synergies.



Avina, First Non-Governmental Organization to Support the Yasuní-ITT Initiative in Ecuador

In 2010, Avina granted USD 100,000 to the Yasuní-ITT initiative, a proposal signed between the Government of Ecuador and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In doing so, Avina became the first non-governmental organization to support this project, which seeks to prevent oil drilling in the Yasuní National Park —one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Amazon basin and the world. The initiative is innovative in that it gives the same value, in economic terms, to both conservation and exploitation. The fund, managed by UNDP, aims to raise USD 3.5 billion to compensate Ecuador for not exploiting oil deposits that lie in the region’s subsoil.

Brazil Becomes the First Developing Country to Set a Concrete Limit for CO2 Emissions

During the Conference of Parties of the United Nations

Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) held in Cancun in December 2010, Brazil signed a decree regulating its National Policy on Climate Change. It pledged to limit its carbon dioxide emissions or equivalents to a maximum of 3,236 gigatons by the year 2020. Brazil had already announced emission reduction targets in percentage terms —36.1% to 38.9% below projections for 2020— but had not set a limit in absolute terms. The biggest source of emissions in Brazil is the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. In coordination with the Packard Foundation and the Ministry of Environment of Brazil, Avina technically and financially supported the activities and projects of Tasso Azevedo, an Avina ally. Azevedo serves as a consultant to the Ministry and played a key role in the negotiations and development of this achievement.

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Datos Claves

  1. Approximately 20% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest land use.

  2. Forest terrain composes 47% of Latin America’s total area.

  3. Of the 367 million hectares of forests that form the Amazonian Biome, 67 million have already been deforested.

  4. Studies indicate that the Amazonian biome could begin a process of collapse once its ecosystem surpasses the deforestation threshold of 20%, which is likely to occur in the next 15 to 20 years if deforestation continues at the same pace as the last decade.