Ecosystem protection and poverty alleviation in the tropics: Perspective from a historical evolution of policy-making in the Brazilian Amazon

Published in Ecosystem Services, v. 8:97-109

Pinho, P.F., Patenaude, G., Ometto, J.P.H.B., Meir, P., Toledo, P.M., Coelho, A. and Frickmann-Young, C.E.

Publication year 2014
  • Earth System Science Center (CCST), Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE), São José dos Campos, Sao Paulo 12222-010, Brazil
  • School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • Instituto de Desenvolvimento Econômico, Social e Ambiental do Pará (IDESP), Pará, Belém, Brazil
  • Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


IAI Program


IAI Project CRN3005


•Policy focused on traditional and indigenous people, limited to other rural and urban poor.

•International fora critical to regional policy but outweighed by development interests.

•Policyfor ecosystem services to poverty alleviation needs to be regional and context specific.

•Secure rights and access to natural resources, and integration into markets for local communities.

•Analytical Framework for Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation Policies in the Tropics.


Despite increased intellectual and conceptual consideration of the linkages between ecosystem service (ES) provisions and poverty alleviation (PA) globally, there has been limited analysis of how these paradigms are used and framed in the regional context of policy-making. In this paper, we address this question by eliciting perspectives on the historical evolution of policies addressing the environment and poverty nexus in the Brazilian Amazon. Our analysis is twofold. First, through an analysis of policy context, we explore how multilateral and international programs have influenced and helped shape national and regional policy-making in the Amazon. Second, through our analysis of policy content, we provide an in-depth discussion of key ES and/or PA policies implemented in the Amazon. Furthermore, we analyze the operationalization of the policy, describe management options, and highlight their impacts on ES and PA. Our results show dichotomies between environmental programs and their social effectiveness, and between environmental and developmental agendas. More recently, however, some attempts have been made at delivering ES protection and PA jointly in policy-making. In conclusion, we provide a framework for policy analysis that can be applied to other tropical countries in the world. If Brazil is to keep its leading role in addressing the challenges of maintaining ecosystem service provision, while alleviating poverty in the Amazon, it must learn from its own experiences.