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By Ananda Alves, Contributing Reporter

Esso/ExxonMobil headquarters in Rio: (From left to right) Director of USAID in Brazil, Jeffery Bell; Representative of Civil Society Mamirauá, Edila Moura; Esso/ExxonMobil President in Brazil, Carla Lacerda and U.S. Consul General, Dennis W. Hearne, photo by U.S. Consulate - RJ.
Esso/ExxonMobil headquarters in Rio: (From left to right) Director of USAID in Brazil, Jeffery Bell; Representative of Civil Society Mamirauá, Edila Moura; Esso/ExxonMobil President in Brazil, Carla Lacerda and U.S. Consul General, Dennis W. Hearne, photo by U.S. Consulate - RJ.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Mamirauá, which is an indigenous word for “baby manatee”, is a 1,124,000 hectare Sustainable Development Reserve, located in the Amazonas state, the largest reserve of its kind protecting flooded forest (“varzea”) in Brazil.

Esso/ExxonMobil and USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) recently announced their support of the Civil Society of Mamirauá, in an exciting program which trains young filmmakers how to produce informational material and documentaries about environmental issues in the Amazon.

The agreement will make it possible to continue the Esso/ExxonMobil-Mamirauá program for environmental education, which launched in 2003 aims to coach teachers and students, from urban and rural areas, in activities related to environmental awareness and the conservation of the region.

Throughout the years, 150 urban teachers, 170 rural teachers and 235 youth have already been trained in the reserves of Mamirauá and Amanã. With this new agreement, 15 youths from the program will be taught how to produce a video with the testimonies of three generations of inhabitants from the Mamirauá reserve.

Young inhabitants showing their project, photo by Civil Society of Mamirauá.
Young inhabitants showing their project, photo by Civil Society of Mamirauá.

The objective is to show the social and environmental changes over the years. When finished, the documentary will be used in the region’s public schools.

According to the president of Esso/ExxonMobil in Brazil, Carla Lacerda, the company’s goal is to develop young educators. “This is a program dedicated to sustainable development, an area the company values and an area in which it is investing throughout the world. We want to have a multiplier effect with this program, to give opportunities to these young people for them to become educators in their own communities,” said Lacerda.

Director of USAID in Brazil Jeffery Bell highlighted the importance of the agreement signed with the American Exxon, that happens to be the largest private oil company in the world. “Ten years ago we wouldn’t be acting together in a project that benefits so many people. Today, public-private partnerships are fundamental in sustainable development projects.”

The Letter of Intent was signed by the USAID/Brasil Mission Director, Jeffery Bell, the representative for the Civil Society Mamirauá, Edila Moura and the president of Esso/ExxonMobil Brazil, Carla Lacerda, photo provided by www.maisunidos.org.
The Letter of Intent was signed by the USAID/Brasil Mission Director, Jeffery Bell, the representative for the Civil Society Mamirauá, Edila Moura and the president of Esso/ExxonMobil Brazil, Carla Lacerda, photo provided by www.maisunidos.org.

Mr. Bell also highlighted that in Brazil there are around 250 American companies that are members of the Mais Unidos group for Corporate Social Responsibility, many of which are already USAID partners. U.S. Consul General Dennis W. Hearne also approved of the project. “I was very much impressed with this initiative and hope it will serve as a model for other public-private partnerships.”

This partnership emerged from the activities of Mais Unidos bringing the group together. USAID, who had some grant money set aside for an environment effort, then recognized the opportunity to contribute funding to help raise the production value, for a more impactful message.

The agreement was signed on Monday, October 26, in Esso/ExxonMobil headquarters in Rio in the presence of the director of USAID in Brazil, Jeffery Bell, the U.S. Consul General, Dennis W. Hearne, Edila Moura,  a representative of Civil Society Mamirauá, and the Esso/ExxonMobil president in Brazil, Carla Lacerda, and as Mr. Bell notes; “At this point the grant has been committed, and it just needs to be mobilized.”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Why in the world is ExxonMobil invested in environmental education of the Amazon? I am suspicious of its motivation and the eventual net outcome from its influence because it has a terrible environmental and social record.

    If you consider how is handled the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, it was behind the one of worst environmental disasters in US history. On top of that, for years after ExxonMobil did everything in it power to avoid paying the fine to the fisherman devastated by Exxon Valdez oil spill by issuing appeal after appeal in the courts. After almost 20 years in the courts ExxonMobil got its wish because the fine was reduced to a much smaller amount last year even as ExxonMobil was reporting record profits of any US company and could have easily paid the original fine.

    On a larger scale, ExxonMobil also funds groups that doubt climate change or claim that climate change is not a threat. That is an outdated argument when it’s becoming more and more obvious that climate change does have adverse effects and the activities of oil companies like ExxonMobil contribute significantly to climate change. Unfortunately, ExxonMobil has a long record of being environmentally irresponsible and carries an attitude of unaccountability.

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