Executive Director Dan Nepstad Interviewed on “Living on Earth”


On his first day in office, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro shifted key responsibilities for indigenous lands from the Ministry of Justice indigenous people agency to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA). Public Radio International’s “Living on Earth” program caught up with our Executive Director, Dan Nepstad, to discuss what that means for indigenous livelihoods and the future of the Amazon rainforest.

“It’s a little bit like giving the keys to the hen house to the fox,” explains Nepstad. The agribusiness sector in Brazil is large and powerful – about one fourth of the nation’s economy.

Nepstad’s own work has shown that rainforests on indigenous lands are as well protected from clearing as rainforests in national parks. Bolsonaro’s decision could slow or undo this protection.

Indigenous peoples of the Amazon need new economic alternatives. “I have heard from indigenous leaders that land rights, alone, are not enough. They need new sources of revenue,” explains Nepstad.

But Nepstad has hope. “There’s a new set of partnerships between indigenous organizations and state governments…amazing progress bringing those indigenous leaders to the table so that they are part of the policy process and they’re saying what they need.”

To hear the full interview and the research EII is doing to inform policy decisions, visit Living on Earth’s latest segment “Brazil’s President Targets Amazon”.