Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Forum Mundial

Later this month, President Bill Clinton and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will travel to Manaus, the first city I ever visited in Brazil and the center of the vast Amazon basin. The hub of the aviamento rubber-tapping system and the focus of accumulated wealth during the rubber boom, Manaus is also the site of the Wedding of the Waters, where the Amazon proper begins.

The confluence of a river carrying twenty percent of the world's flowing fresh water -- and in the center of a forest that contains an abundant share of the planet's remaining biodiversity -- is a fitting location for O Fórum Mundial de Sustentabilidade (World Sustainability Forum). No place on earth has brought differing priorities of the global North and South into sharper relief, as I well remember from a heady summer I spent in Rondonia, a bit upstream, in 1996. For the leading edge of research on the human-environment interface in the lower reaches of the Amazon, see the amazing work of my friends at Piatam.

The meeting in Brazil has added significance, though, as many in the United States are coming to realize not only the ecological but also the growing economic and social importance of the country. In addition to having the occasional opportunity to travel and study in Brazil, I am very fortunate to live in a region that is a major focus of Brazilian migration and commerce.

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