The role of traditional knowledge in the bioeconomy


“Indigenous people have always practiced bioeconomy.” This statement is made by Ivaneide Cardozo, an indigenist who has led the Kanindé Ethno-environmental Defense Association for nearly 20 years, and who participated in a panel on the subject at the last edition of Climate Week, on September 23rd. Organized by Coalition Brasil Clima, Forests and Agriculture, the debate dealt with production systems based on the use and conservation of biological resources, aiming at a sustainable economy.

The virtual panel brought together representatives from different sectors and from different regions of the Amazon in order to present the transformative potential of the bioeconomy and contribute to global discussions on the topic. The representative of the Colombian Amazon, Angelica Roja, Project Coordinator at the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS), presented the sustainable forest management project developed with the Guavaré communities. She reported difficulties faced by the initiative, with the lack of transport, energy and technology.

“We still need to have a broad discussion about the characteristics of the economy and its relationship with science and technology, with security and conflicts over natural resources,” she said.

Economic approach

According to Danilo Fernandes, from the Center for Advanced Amazon Studies (NAEA), at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), few economists are involved with the topic, which is why bioeconomy has always been treated as an externality, when discussing the development of knowledge focuses on the technological field.

“For academics it’s only economics when it’s on a large scale. Traditional knowledge is a type of technology that has to be understood as economics”, he observed.

Karina Pinasco, director of the NGO Amazônicos Por La Amazônia (AMPA), agrees that the main effort should not be to take what is produced abroad, but to keep it in the place of origin. “We don’t need solutions to come from outside. We have the solution, we develop the best circular economy,” she said.

Business opportunity

The CEO of the Peruvian company Forest Bambu, Noelli Trillo, presented a business vision of the bioeconomy based on the integral management of bamboo, acting in the production of medicines, cosmetics and handicrafts. “Despite the pressure to set up other plantations, such as cocoa, pineapple and soy, which degrade the soil, we chose bamboo that recovers and generates new resources,” said Trillo.

For the specialists who participated in the debate, factors such as man’s relationship with the forest, fires and their impact on the climate, the need for public investments in preserving and combating violence caused by conflict of interest have direct impacts on the development of the bioeconomy in the Amazon territory. “It is necessary to converge on themes involving the Amazon, which have geopolitical relevance”, Ivoneide Cardozo.

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