Site language select:

Amazon, the heart of the world - a talk by Dr Antonio Nobre

Never before has the Amazon been at the core of everybody’s concerns as it is now. Just as science unravels several mysteries of the mighty rainforest, with its treasure trove of marvels, unprecedented destructive forces mounted a tsunami of ugly attacks against what is left of the big forest.

Compounding the Amazon’s bad luck, the Earth’s climate is entering a phase of exponential worsening. Thus, struck from all sides, the Amazon is reaching its dreaded tipping point much earlier than predicted. Although it is hard to assert when the entire Amazon biome will crash, at the present rate of degradation we will not have to wait more than 10 years to witness the unthinkable happening before our eyes.

Gaia cannot afford to lose the Amazon the same way, as a living body cannot go on without its beating heart. The global scope of the challenge is such, so immense, yet, failure is not an option. What should we do?

There is no longer time for usual politics or procrastination. If civilization is to stand any chance, we need resolute, RADICAL change, to a level never before attempted. But fortunately, there is a cascade of great initiatives coalescing worldwide that could tame the worst part of the climate chaos dangling over our heads. Earth has gone through many cataclysms in its long history.

Life on Earth, we should trust, has all the technological secrets to bounce back and arrest the worst consequences of human madness. We need only give life a chance.

Dr Antonio Donato Nobre is a scientist and an activist for a cause he embraced 38 years ago when he began researching the Amazon rainforest. His first trip to the region was in 1979, as a student of agronomy. Over the ensuing three years he went to the forest seven times by hitchhiking on government airplanes. When he decided to stay, Nobre became a researcher at the National Institute of Amazonia Research (INPA). He then lived in Manaus, Amazonas, in the middle of the rainforest, for 14 years. Known for popularizing the concept of Flying Rivers and their connections with the rainforest, and author of the 2014 report The Future Climate of Amazonia. He currently lives in the interior of São Paulo and is a senior researcher at the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Dr Grace Iara Souza is a social scientist and activist with her heart in the Brazilian Amazon. Her first trip to the Lower River Negro, in Amazonas, was in 2011 and ever since she has dedicated her life to learning from rainforest dwellers and other passionate socio-environmentalists. Using Political Ecology as a lens, Grace is concerned with how glocal development and environmental policies affect indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. She is an independent consultant, the co-founder of CLOSER, a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research group on Brazilian socio-environmental research and the Brazil Institute Fellow. She has been ‘building bridges’ with multi-stakeholders (e.g. civil society, governments, private sector, funders, academics) for more than a decade. Grace will be chairing the event.


With thanks to



Coordinators: CLOSER & Global Canopy

Speakers: Dr Antonio Donato Nobre

Place: King's College London, Strand, King's Building, Room K.0.18, London WCR2 2LS

Date: March 6, 2020

Time: 13:00- 14:30

Register Here!

Session 1: Going Multidisciplinary

One of the most used key words in academia all over the world nowadays is ‘interdisciplinarity’ or 'multidisciplinarity'. From call for papers and conferences, to Deans and rectors’ speeches and description of courses and modules, these words are almost omnipresent. However, problems generally appear when we need to translate these concepts into practice. Dr Vinínius Mariano de Carvalho will open the training by presenting guidelines to successfully explore different areas of expertise within research.

Read More

Session 2: Colonising Nature: People and Protected Areas

Taking the Amazon rainforest as a point of reference, Dr Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho will expose some of the historical views on colonisation and representation of nature. Subsequently, Grace Iara Souza will present a case study on the Amazonian colonisation through the setting of areas aside for environmental protection.

Read More

Session 3: Regulation and the Environment

Questions concerning public policy and regulation in the environment-development debate will be addressed. The focus will be on the role of voluntary multi-stakeholder sustainability initiatives in the context of states with limited administrative capacity. Flavia Donadelli and Larissa Boratti will present a case study on private forest regulation in Latin America in order to stimulate an open debate about the role of alternative environmental governance mechanisms in developing countries.

Read More

Session 4: Governance, institutions and actors: the challenges of researching socio-environmental complexity

Dr Daanish Mustafa will give an overview on the theoretical and epistemological questions that arise in socio-environmental research, namely in what regards interplay of governance, institutions and actors. Tiago Freitas will present a case study from the Brazilian Amazon and Kay Phanthuwongpakdee a case study from Thailand.

Read More

Session 5: Natural resource management and gender: can pro-poor strategies work in a neo-liberal world?

Natural resources such as land, water and forests are of key importance to the livelihoods of very many people in the countries of the Global South. In many countries most people still live in rural areas and derive significant parts of their livelihoods from agriculture, livestock and fisheries as well as from timber and non-timber forest products. The management of these resources is thus of great significance both for reducing poverty and trying to attain improved sustainability in the use of the natural environment. During this session, Dr Deborah Potts will discuss some of these themes with particular reference to southern African societies, while Giovanna Grandoni will introduce the gendered implications of natural resource management in small rural communities in the Northeast of Brazil.

Read More

Session 6: The Space and Place of Indigenous and Riverine Peoples in The National State

This session will provide an analysis of cultural, institutional and livelihood dimensions of Indigenous groups and traditional communities and how it can interact with the conservation agenda. Moreover it will present the recent evolution of international and national policies and rights of indigenous and riverine peoples, and explore its consequences on the analytical framework on human-environment interactions.

Read More

Session 1: Between Conservation, Development & Territorial Rights

The local people right to the territory has been one of the major struggles when creating and implementing conservation and development policies throughout natural resource rich countries. Embedded in a conflict between different stakeholders and agendas, conducting research in and about such places require constant adaptation and persistence

Read More

Session 2: Environment, Public Policy and Regulation

Several changes in environmental policies and regulations have happened in Brazil in the past decade. Although commentators and protesters often use the term ‘environmental roll-back’ to describe these changes little research has been published on the actual nature and processes leading to these reforms. This session aims to fill in this gap and shed light on the actual characteristics and drivers of this recent trend.

Read More

Session 3: Conducting Research with Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon

This session will focus on research with indigenous peoples from an anthropological, environmental and economic perspective, and present the challenges of conducting fieldwork in indigenous territories in the Amazon.

Read More

Socio-Ecological Systems: environment, development and sustainability

The Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) Reading Group in the Department of Anthropology, UCL invite PhD students to come to our one-day student conference. This one-day postgraduate research conference seeks to bring research across both social/political and ecological/biophysical disciplines to share experiences together. The conference will explore themes in SES and sustainability, including multiple interactions and relations between people and ecosystems; political ecology of human-animal relations, customary modes of natural resource management and their conflict or complementarity with western ideas of management; community-based conservation and development approaches and factors influencing their outcomes; impacts of changes in land use, tenure, access and management on livelihoods; impacts of climate change on human well-being, ecosystems and wildlife; and integrative methodologies in understanding SES.

Read More

Reimagining Prosperity: Futures from the Global South

Given the planetary challenges we face, we urgently need to formulate more explicit projects of transformation and transition. The announcement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 emphasises that making substantial changes using tried and tested models is unlikely to work. This paper discusses how we might move beyond the SDGs to formulate diverse pathways to future prosperity, and explains why many of the philosophical and practical ideas arising in the Global South offer innovative ways forward.

Read More