Amazonia and Our Planetary Futures: A Conference on Climate Change


Tue - Wed, May 7 to May 8, 9:30am - 1:00pm


CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium 1730 Cambridge Street Cambridge, MA 02138


Climate change is one of the most important long-term threats for the future of our societies. Solutions are complex, depending not only on engineering and policy, but also on imagination and public will towards alternative forms of inhabiting the planet. Latin America, home to the largest rainforest areas in the world, is both at risk of environmental catastrophe and a key region in which models for thriving bioeconomies based on rainforests can evolve. This symposium will bring together experts and leaders from the US and Latin America to discuss the past, present and future of Amazonia. We will discuss deforestation trends and their interactions with climate and health; how to move beyond our lack of imagination for viable futures, including the importance and role of indigenous peoples of the Amazon; and ongoing and emerging initiatives towards river-flowing, rainforest-based economies across Amazonia.

TUESDAY, MAY 7, 2019

8:30am - Coffee & Registration

9:30am - Opening remarks by Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor (Emeritus); Museum of Comparative Zoology Professor (Emeritus)

Session 1: Forecasting land use, climate, and their interactions

  • Tasso Azevedo, General Coordinator, MapBiomas Initiative
  • Marina Hirota, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Federal University of Santa Catarina
  • Paulo Artaxo, Professor of Environmental Physics, University of São Paulo
  • Marcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography; Chair, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Moderator: Paul Moorcroft, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University


12:00pm - Lunch Break


1:30pm - Remarks by Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami shaman, advocate for the Yanomami people and the Amazon rainforest and co-author of The Falling Sky

Session 2: Imagining and creating futures

  • Eliane Brum, Journalist, writer
  • Luis Gilberto Murillo, former Minister of Environment, Colombia
  • Augusto Zampini, Theologian, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
  • Moderator: Andrew Revkin, Strategic advisor for Environmental and Science journalism, National Geographic Society


9am - Coffee & Registration

10am - Opening Remarks by Carlos Nobre, Senior Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo; Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute

Session 3: Towards a standing-forest, flowing-rivers bioeconomy

  • Brigitte Baptiste, Director, Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute
  • Beto Veríssimo, Senior Researcher, Imazon
  • Daniela Baccas, Head of the Environmental Department, Brazilian Development Bank
  • Moderator: Robin Sears, Bullard Fellow, Harvard Forest


  • Bruno de Medeiros, Postdoctoral Fellow, Climate Change Solutions Fund
  • Bruno Carvalho, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies; Affiliated Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the GSD; Faculty Associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
  • Brian D. Farrell, Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; Director, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

Presented with support from the Brazil Studies Program, the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the Harvard University Herbaria, the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.