hard, hectic and intensely stimulating weeks the participants of the Brazilian
Amazon Youth Exchange 98 will be engaged in a serious adventure
to explore the debates and the impact of sustainable development on the
Amazon and Brazil. Key to achieving this task are our youth partner groups.
They will give us the real grassroots picture of how sustainable development
affects people in the Amazon. Using these and our own experiences we will
attempt to unravel and evaluate the conflicting arguments made for and
against sustainable development.
this exciting period we will journey on planes, boats, by coach, by rail
and by foot; through three time zones; from sub tropical regions to tropical
and back again–a total of over 10,000 kilometres. We will be travelling
from our starting point in Rio de Janeiro, through four Amazon states,
to Brazils capital, Brasília and finally back to Rio de Janeiro.
At these locations
we will meet and talk to peasant farmers, rubber tappers, Indians, environmental
non-governmental organisations (NGOs), cattle ranchers, dam builders,
miners, the media and politicians, in order to discover the various opinions
on development in the Amazon. They will help us to explore how sustainable
development has affected and changed the lives of people in the Amazon
1998 is a good year
for us to visit Brazil. When we touch down in Brazil in July it will be
the beginning of the election campaigns for the presidency, state governors,
the senate, the federal chamber and legislative assemblies. The country
will be alive with heated debates on the future of development for Brazil.
The election period is the cut-off point for the completion of many of
the projects making up Brazil on the Move. 1998 will also be the tenth
anniversary of the assassination of Francisco Chico Mendes,
the rubber tapper, trade union activist and world renowned eco-martyr
from the Amazon. This anniversary will focus the attention of the worlds
media on the issue of development in the Amazon region.
We will be making
our visit in July and August. This is the burning season in
the Amazon when areas of the forest are burnt in preparation for the planting
of pasture and crops. Reports in 1997 claim these burnings are on the
increase. With the images and stories of the forest burnings in Asia and
with the related debate about the impact of the natural phenomenon, El
Niño, the Amazon burning season of 1998 is sure to be the focus
of considerable global attention.