Since the 1990s Brazil began to take special interest in South American affairs, specifically during the presidencies of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002) and Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva (2003-2010), which resulted in the strengthening of "Mercado Comum do Sul" (MERCOSUL). During this period, countries with the highest economic growth were those located around the Pacific Rim, which made the Brazilian Amazon region increasingly important because of its shared border with countries with access to the Pacific, such as Peru. Today, this trend in international growth has continued and Brazil is working to increase the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA) in order to gain access to the Pacific. However the construction of a new road or the improvement of an existing road on adjacent territories may also involve economic, social and environmental dimensions. For this reason the concept of “Strategic Environmental Assessment” (SEA) is very important because the objective is not to promote more or less deforestation per se, but to analyze how changes in land-use affect the lives of the people living in the Amazon and what the implications are for the rest of the world in terms of reduced environmental services. Recognizing that deforestation has both costs and benefits, and beginning to measure the magnitude of these, is the first step towards developing meaningful international and domestic policies that will deliver both the environmental services so desired in the North hemisphere as well as the economic development so needed in the South hemisphere.
Fábio Borges, Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana, Brazil
Stream: Social Sciences
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