Climate Action

These are the 10 key actions needed to save the Amazon rainforest, scientists say 

An aerial view shows a deforested plot of the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil

Experts warn the Amazon is approaching a dangerous tipping point. Image: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Victoria Masterson
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Future of the Environment

  • Scientists have drawn up an action plan to save the Amazon rainforest, river system, and region.
  • It includes respecting the Amazon’s 400-plus indigenous communities and exposing companies or product lines that threaten the viability of the region.
  • The initiative is convened by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The Amazon rainforest is a mega-diverse ecosystem that is home to 35 million people and 1 in 10 of Earth’s known species.

But its survival hangs in the balance. Deforestation and climate change have seen the Amazon rainforest lose a fifth of its forest cover in 50 years.

Experts warn the region is approaching a dangerous tipping point, where vast areas of forest will be reduced to open grassland.


Now scientists have set out 10 key ways to save the Amazon rainforest and river system.

The Amazon We Want

Called The Amazon We Want, the recommendations are based on a detailed scientific assessment of the state of the Amazon. They prioritize the long-term wellbeing of the region’s ecosystem and people.

Scientists from the region and those who study it drew up the recommendations after forming the Science Panel for the Amazon. This is convened by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development.

Have you read?

Here is a summary of the 10 recommendations.

1. The sovereignty of the Amazon is untouchable

The countries of the Amazon region have sovereign rights over their territories and natural resources. These are legal rights that can’t be challenged by nations outside the Amazon. The eight countries of the Amazon are Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

2. The rights of the inhabitants of the Amazon are a priority

Any sustainable development in the Amazon must respect the dignity and rights of its people, the scientists say. Around 35 million people live in the region. This includes more than 400 indigenous and traditional communities who speak more than 300 languages.

3. Saving the Amazon is a global commitment

Amazonian countries must develop and implement a plan to save the Amazon – and countries around the world must support this. As consumers of products from deforested areas, the most developed countries have a particular responsibility.

4. Science-based solutions

The recommendations of scientists researching the Amazon – and especially those from the Amazonian countries – will inform the Amazon’s sustainable development. These will also be based on “sound scientific principles”. Innovation must explore options including developing the forest economy and protecting freshwater fisheries.

5. The indigenous peoples are the guardians of the Amazon forest

People native to the region have managed the Amazon forest for thousands of years, says the Science Panel for the Amazon. Their rights and traditional knowledge and practices must be respected and prioritized.

6. Real-time monitoring

Satellites and other data tools are critical in the real-time monitoring of deforestation, forest fires and other threats to the Amazon. Data collected on location is also crucial in backing this up. The scientific community must collaborate to implement an early warning system that alerts the world to risks in “near real time”.

7. A sustainable and efficient economy for an Amazon with a future

Private organizations can’t take part in commercial activities that threaten the survival of the Amazon forest and its people. Agriculture, mining and hydropower must be kept within authorized areas and based on clear science. Improving degraded areas by adopting technology and best practices should be prioritized.

8. Responsibility for sustainable production

Products from the Amazon must be produced sustainably. All companies trading or using products originating from the Amazon are responsible for this – including investment funds and banks. If any companies or product lines threaten the viability of the Amazon rainforest, consumers should have access to all information on this. Where there have been illegal activities, certification measures and sustainable practices should be adopted at scale.

9. Urgent forest restoration

Forest restoration plans set out by the Amazonian countries must be prioritized. “Immediate, active, and ambitious reforestation” can lessen the risk of forest areas being turned into tropical savannas (grasslands), the scientists say. “This is particularly true in deforested regions, which are largely abandoned cattle ranches and farmland, and account for around 23% of destroyed forest land,” they add.

10. Leveraging/harnessing new technologies

Advanced science and technologies can save the tropical forest and the Amazon’s ecosystems, peoples and communities. New technologies and high-value bio-industries can be leveraged. These include pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, new materials and nutraceuticals – products with health benefits that are derived from food sources, such as nutritional supplements. These must be strictly managed within clear and firm ecological limits.


How UpLink is helping to find innovations to solve challenges like this

Innovative solutions

The World Economic Forum is calling for innovative bioeconomy projects in the Amazon rainforest that protect and restore its biodiversity and ecosystem.

The Trillion Trees: Amazon Bioeconomy Challenge is part of, the Forum’s global reforestation initiative. This aims to conserve, restore and grow one trillion trees by 2030.

The challenge is hosted on UpLink, a digital platform launched by the Forum and its partners to crowdsource innovative solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Climate ActionNature and Biodiversity
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