The Amazonas Sustentável Foundation
2016 Calouste Gulbenkian Prize
The Amazonas Sustentável Foundation is the winner of the 2016 Calouste Gulbenkian Prize. With a value of €250,000, the award, established in homage to its founder, will be made by the President of the Portuguese Republic on Wednesday 20 July, at 6.30pm, in the Foundation’s open air Amphitheatre followed by a concert by the Gulbenkian Orchestra.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Prize jury, chaired by Jorge Sampaio, distinguished the Brazilian environmental organisation, which has stood out for its defence of the Amazon forests and their communities, from among the 75 candidates this year. The jury praised the actions of this organisation that operates in “such a globally critical zone as the Amazon” developing projects to “reduce deforestation, preserve biodiversity and contribute towards improving the quality of life of the traditional populations”. The jury highlighted that this award represented “a strong signal” of the importance of environmental issues in a year marked by the historical United Nations agreement on climate change signed by a record number of countries.
Set up in 2007 by Banco Bradesco in partnership with the Amazonas State Government, the Amazonas Sustentável Foundation is a Brazilian non-governmental and non-profit organisation with the mission of defending and promoting the forest, fostering sustainable patterns of involvement, environmental conservation and improvements to the quality of life of riverside communities in Amazonas State. To this end, the organisation has been implementing, and with great success, a series of different programs that in 2015 spanned 574 communities to the benefit of over 40,000 people.
Virgílio Viana, General Director of the Amazonas Sustentável Foundation, who will be in attendance at the Gulbenkian Foundation to receive the award, expressed his “deep honour” and sense of “recognition” at receiving the Calouste Gulbenkian Award dedicating the prize to the entire team in place at the Amazonas Sustentável Foundation, “which gets passionately involved, with a great deal of commitment and professionalism, in the enormous challenges interrelated with the promotion of sustainable development and environmental conservation and the improvement of the quality of life of riverside communities in Amazonia” According to Viana, “the resources are destined for programs and projects developed in conjunction with hundreds of communities with which the foundation acts within the state. Indeed, as with all the resources received by the Amazonas Sustentável Foundation, this sum will be audited by PwC with a detailed report on the investment of the prize money sent to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation”.
Among the leading projects run by the Amazonas Sustentável Foundation is the Forestry Grant Program, which represents a historical benchmark in efforts to bring about sustainable development in the Amazon. Within its scope, the Foundation has held workshops targeting riverside families on issues such as climatic changes, environmental services, and warning of the negative effects of opening new clearings in areas of primary forest. In turn, the Education and Healthcare Program undertakes efforts to expand and improve the provision of such services through the existing infrastructures (Centres of Conservation and Sustainability) in order to implement projects leading to professional qualifications, entrepreneurship, paying full attention to the early years of infancy, exchanging learnings and knowledge, incentivising reading skills, recycling solid waste and enacting ecological friendly agriculture and permaculture. The Innovative Solutions Program has encouraged projects able to improve production, product quality and raising earning power through the means of innovative devices and equipment, nurturing best practices and health and safety procedures.
The Amazonas Sustentável Foundation draws upon the support of various private companies and international aid agencies such as Banco Bradesco, the Amazônia-BNDES Fund, Samsung and Coca-Cola Brasil, among others.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Prize will be delivered in the open air Amphitheatre on the Founder’s Day, 20 July, at a ceremony counting on the presence of the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Gulbenkian Foundation President, Artur Santos Silva, Jorge Sampaio, and Neliton Marques and Virgílio Viana, on behalf of the Amazonas Sustentável Foundation.
This will be followed by a concert by the Gulbenkian Orchestra, conducted by Pedro Neves with the pianist Mário Laginha. The sounds of Beethoven’s fifth symphony will bring to a close the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Gulbenkian Foundation featuring the vast program of concerts, cinema sessions, workshops and exhibitions that has packed the Gulbenkian Garden and other Foundation venues over recent weeks.
With the sum of €250,000 the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize is awarded to an institution or a person, Portuguese or international, that has played a distinguished role in the defence of the values essential to the human condition. The prize was first awarded in 2012 and went to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra led by Daniel Barenboim, with the winners in the following years being the Library of Alexandria (2013), the Community of Sant’Egidio (2014), and Denis Mukwege (2015), the Congolese doctor who has dedicated his life to caring for rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Prize Jury is composed of Jorge Sampaio (President), Vartan Gregorian (Carnegie Corporation, USA), Commander Pedro Pires (former President of the Republic of Cape Verde), HRH Princess Rym Ali of Jordan (founder of the Jordan Media Institute), António Nóvoa (former rector of the University of Lisbon) and Mónica Bettencourt-Dias (researcher at the Gulbenkian Science Institute).