From May 8-10, a group of more than 20 high level officials from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru – Governors, Secretaries of Environment, and other Delegates – along with GCF Task Force Secretariat leaders, represented the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force global network in meetings with U.S. governmental and bilateral donor institutions in Washington (D.C.) and governmental and business leaders in Miami (Florida).
These meetings were focused on finding synergies across our work and developing pathways forward for targeted, long-term partnerships that support the GCF Task Force as a regional and global network, and advance the implementation of the Manaus Action Plan for a New Forest Economy in our member jurisdictions.
Leading up to these engagements, on Sunday evening we held a planning session to finalize details of what would end up being a highly successful and productive 3 days.
As GCF Task Force Project Director Jason Gray noted, “this visit is intended to highlight the fact that the GCF Task Force provides a unique platform for partnership and action between governments, community leaders, financial institutions, civil society, and businesses to advance large-scale, jurisdictional approaches to decarbonization, reduced deforestation, and increase economic opportunity for the hard-working people of the Amazon.”
The week started in Washington, D.C., where we engaged with leaders from the US Department of State, USAID, US Forest Service, International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), The Wilson Center, InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB), Conservation X Labs, Andes Amazon Fund, and the Global Environmental Facility. We then traveled to Miami, Florida, where, on May 10, we participated in the First Forum of our partner, the Amazon Chamber, and its launch as the first US-based hub to promote the Amazonian Bioeconomy.
Monday – Washington DC
The morning session was a joint technical meeting with the US Department of State, USAID, and US Forest Service, where we discussed areas of partnership that included bioeconomy, combatting illegality, addressing commodity impacts, partnering with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, nature investments to reduce business risks, subnational mobilization, USAID funding, technical support from USFS on monitoring, reporting, and verification, fire management, carbon market opportunities and challenges, and ecosystem services. GCF Task Force Governors and Environment Secretaries expressed the need to create jobs, alleviate poverty, and build out technical assistance and investment support.
We enjoyed a walk from the meeting venue down Pennsylvania Avenue for a working lunch hosted by the Wilson Center and ICCF. During this meeting, the delegation engaged in a lively conversation regarding ICCF’s model of working with legislators to develop conservation laws and their interest in aligning and working with governors at the subnational level. In addition, leaders from the Wilson Center, including Ambassador Mark Green, presented on the Brazil Institute and opportunities to work with GCF Task Force jurisdictions.
After lunch, US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore and USAID Chief Climate Officer Gillian Caldwell joined the GCF Task Force Delegation to further discuss the importance of natural climate solutions, the role that businesses can play, the need to support Indigenous Peoples, livelihoods and bioeconomies, as well as the need to reduce business risk for long-term investments. Afterward, US Forest Service’s Latin America Associate Director for International Programs, Liz Mayhew, expressed that “the meeting provided an excellent opportunity for Chief Moore and several Amazon governors to share experiences and challenges in managing our invaluable forests and natural resources while never losing sight of the people and communities who live within them.”
In the afternoon, the Delegation held a meeting with the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) for a discussion centered around opportunities through multi-donor funds and programs for clusters of cross-border jurisdictions and supply chain initiatives, including the Amazon Cities Network, Amazonia 360 & Clusters. Governors and Secretaries highlighted their interest in accessing reimbursable and/or low-interest loans, granting opportunities in each country, and in seeking help with lowering the borrowing rate for various jurisdictions.
Monday concluded with a gathering of delegates with Conservation X Labs representatives. Delegates learned how this organization conducts business – through stakeholder engagement to announcing application opportunities around conservation. Conservation X Labs eagerly shared their Fire Grand Challenge, and Amazon X Labs program, a mechanism of their design to bring together diverse communities and bodies of knowledge to source, innovate, create, and deploy conservation technologies & regenerative forest-derived products to create the new, sustainable economies of the future.
Tuesday – Washington DC
The day started off with a meeting with leadership representatives from the Andes Amazon Fund (AAF). A presentation by AAF Executive Director Megan MacDowell was followed by an open conversation with the GCF Task Force Delegation regarding potential ways to collaborate, particularly around bioeconomy (PES activities, carbon credits, ecotourism). GCF Task Force Secretaries shared challenges and pointed out, among other things, that coming together is key.
“We appreciated the event, conversations, insights and the presence of the visiting delegation. We are thankful to you for making it happen. I personally thought that the conversations were very honest and brought up many points that are important for our understanding of what sub national governments face,” said Enrique Ortiz, Senior Program Director for Andes Amazon Fund.
Before traveling to Miami, Florida, the Delegation met with representatives from the Global Environmental Facility, led by Adriana Moreira and Claude Gascon. They presented their method of operations and overall funding plan, as well as shared the workings of their Amazonas Sustainable Landscapes regional project platform, and the Biosilvestre or Sustainable Cities programs. The conversation extended to topics of interest to the GCF Task Force’s global network, including discussing the Congo Basin – Amazonia – Indonesia collaboration.
Wednesday – Miami, FL
The GCF Task Force Delegation traveled to Miami for the launch of the Amazon Chamber, the first US-based global hub promoting the Amazon Bioeconomy.
The Mayor of Miami Francis X. Suarez attended this First Forum to share his words of support and signing of a Proclamation to commemorate the significance of establishing the Chamber in Miami. Governors, Secretaries, and Delegates of the GCF Task Force, as well as entrepreneurs, academics, investors, and others present, joined in the signing of the Proclamation.
Between a facilitated discussion of the concept of the chamber and a technical session, the Vice Rector of the State University of Amazonas (Universidade do Estado do Amazonas – UEA), Professor Dr. Katia do Nascimento Couceiro, among other University representatives, met with GCF Task Force Global Secretariat Project Director Colleen Scanlan Lyons and Secretary of the Environment for Amazonas (Brazil), Eduardo Taveira, who discussed areas of opportunity between them related to Bioeconomy, and next steps. The day ended at Mana Common–Mana Tech facilities. To learn more details on outcomes from the event, visit the Amazon Chamber site here, or take a look at their press release.
Finally, we once more extend our appreciation to the leaders and representatives from these key organizations for engaging in rich dialogues with the GCF Task Force Delegation throughout these meetings. We look forward to deepening our partnership with each one, and actively participating in follow-up sessions as we build on the conversations that were held during these three days together. Drawing on a paraphrased analogy from Governor Wilson Lima, of Amazonas, Brazil – we look forward to “moving beyond simply seeing the forest canopy, to seeing and understanding the roots, which are the people of the Amazon.”