Commodities and the Social Dimensions of Sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon
Boom-bust cycles from export-oriented commodity production have long been a part of Amazonia's tumultuous history, and such production has typically brought with it environmental degradation and social exclusion. Yet today Brazil aspires to embark on a new path. Amidst an impressive economic boom, the government, in dialogue with local and international NGOs and the private sector, is encouraging commodity-driven growth focused on assisting producers to come into compliance with rapidly evolving environmental laws and best practices. Much has been written about the environmental ramifications of these shifts, but less attention has been paid to the institutional, social, and cultural ramifications of changes in commodity production.
The proposed project, led by SIS Professor Eve Bratman involves a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Brazil and the U.S., and focuses on the social and institutional dynamics accompanying the “greening” of commodity-based development in Brazil’s Amazon. The goals include assessing evolving trends, identifying best practices, and highlighting enduring challenges for social sustainability of development processes in the region. The core of the project consists of original research from empirical case studies as well as analytic contributions drawing on secondary literature, to be published in an edited volume. To maximize impact beyond the scholarly community, seminars will be held for practitioners in Washington and Brasilia, and policy-oriented white papers will be prepared and circulated widely.