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Bureaucracy and Conferences

posted Jul 2, 2012, 5:47 AM by Ethan Shirley
As some of you may know, I was in Belo Horizonte the week of May 20th to present all aspects of the project here in the Pantanal to Brazilian diplomats, lawyers, and others in the fields of sustainability and sustainable development. The conference, called Sustentar, is held annually in Brazil and brings in people from numerous different fields of work related to sustainability. Five members of our team were also in Rio de Janeiro in late June to be present at Rio+20, the United Nations conference on sustainable development which aimed to build on the accomplishments of the Rio 1992 conference on sustainability twenty years ago. The 1992 conference was and continues to be integral to the implementation of sustainable development, in concert with natural preservation, and has influence legislation and growth worldwide. 

Recently, I met the president of another non-profit organization operating in the Pantanal. The non-profit, called Ecotrópica (warning: website is in Portuguese), manages several private nature reserves that are contiguous with the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park. These reserves (and the national park) are located about six hours by boat downriver from Porto Jofre and our beloved Transpantaneira highway. The Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, like many Brazilian national parks, is almost entirely inaccessible. Around the national park there are other forgotten communities of ribeirinhos without any social infrastructure. It is PCER's goal to expand education and other social resources throughout the Pantanal, and gaining access to these communities through a new partnership with Ecotrópica is the first step to helping these even-more remote populations.

Back in the Pantanal, we are currently still fighting to get a public school open. In a previous post, I mentioned that a school that we have been pressuring to open for almost four years now finally opened; sadly, this school is open only to children who live on the ranch where the school is located. We have attempted to negotiate with the owners and managers of the ranch to open the school to other children, but, so far, to no avail. 

In better news, it appears that through a new connection with the local federal university in Cuiabá PCER will be receiving its first group of biologists to begin its tenure as a field station for biological research in late August.

The Poconé representative of the state secretary of education has seen our work at the boarding schools of Cotia and Nazaré, and was thrilled as always to see us. This year, our project for water filters was relatively simple: educational outreach in boarding schools. Next year, it looks like we may be helping design and construct filtration systems for whole communities. Chumbo, a Quilombo (strongly Afro-Brasileiro) community, is located about 20km from Cotia, still in the Pantanal, and has had its local school shut down numerous times due to water contamination. A small community near IFMT, another local partner, is in a similar situation. We will try to focus on these communities next year as well as continuing our bio-sand filter outreach projects.