High-tech and indigenous knowledge for biodiversity-driven food security
The Amazon Third Way (A3W) innovation initiative combines sustainable food production with nature-inspired emerging technologies.
Deforestation and climate change in the Amazon are bringing the forest close to a tipping point where it will die back and turn into dry savanna. This degradation of the world’s most biodiverse habitat will destroy the livelihoods of millions and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the die-back is accompanied by enormous fires. Setting aside large tracts of the forest for nature conservation (first way) goes against the necessities of the Amazon countries. Destroying the forest for timber, pasture and crop lands (second way), will end in an ecological disaster. As an alternative, the Amazonia Third Way initiative (A3W) suggests an approach to protect the Amazon and its peoples while developing a vibrant biodiversity-driven ‘green economy’. The approach combines sustainable food production with the physical, digital and biological technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Given that the Amazon holds so much biodiversity and that one new species is discovered every three days, A3W believes that it holds many of the codes to produce valuable bio-products and bio-materials of the future. This combined approach will create well-paid jobs and many new products with a value many times that of rearing cattle or growing soybeans, they say. This pilot project seeks to go to scale by “redesigning the economies of the wet tropics in ways that give people food security and economic sovereignty while preserving and tapping into the biodiversity wealth of these areas”.