By Ananda Alves, Contributing Reporter
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.
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.”
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.”