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Can Science and Law Save the Amazon and its peoples?

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The Brazilian Amazon (nearly 60% of the whole forest) and its traditional peoples (indigenous groups, riverine communities and communities of former enslaved peoples)  are under unprecedented pressure. Cattle farming, soy, logging and mining have already destroyed about one fifth of the forest in the past few decades and affected the lives and livelihoods of thousands of humans who have traditionally lived in harmony with the forest. If destruction continues, many scientists believe the biome may reach a tipping point, with large swathes of former tropical forest turning into a savannah. That would be catastrophic not only for the traditional peoples, to Brazil and the region, given the forest’s important role in regulating rainfall and the local climate, but also for the world as a whole, in particular due to the loss of one of the most important hotspots of biodiversity in the planet. We have sufficient scientific knowledge about what needs to be done to save the Amazon and also a robust legal framework to implement the solutions. The greatest challenge is how to overcome significant political and economic resistance from those who profit from the destruction of the Amazon. This lecture will discuss these challenges and the potential role of transnational scientific, political and legal coalitions in implementing the required measures to save the Amazon.   

Professor Octavio Ferraz is a Professor of Law. He holds an LLB and MPhil in Law (University of São Paulo), an MA in Medical Ethics & Law (King's College London, prize Benjamin Geijsen) and a PhD in Law (University College London).

Before joining King's he was a senior research officer to the UN special rapporteur for the right to health, Professor Paul Hunt, at the University of Essex, and then moved to Warwick Law School, where he was an Assistant and then an Associate Professor for 8 years. 

Before moving to academia, he practiced law in Sao Paulo, Brazil, mostly in the fields of corporate public law and medical law for over ten years. He is still a member of the Brazilian Bar and contributes regularly to the Brazilian press.


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