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Insights from the First BIOTRAILS Stakeholders' Workshop in Brazil

Photos by Pedro Cavalcante

We are thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of the first BIOTRAILS stakeholders’ work in Brasilia, held at the headquarters of the Interamerican Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), a valued project collaborator, on the 26th of October 2023.

 

The workshop aimed at bringing together different stakeholders, institutional and non-institutional, to discuss key issues related to the forest-based cultural products (handicrafts) created by indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon. The overall objective was to initiate the development of intervention strategies that address the nexus among these issues under biodiversity, climate change, and social dynamics.

 

Among the reasons that made the workshop a success was the high-level engagement of stakeholders and their insightful contributions.

The workshop was not only attended by representatives of the indigenous peoples such as Shirley de Lima Ferreira, but also by government representatives from the recently installed Ministry for Indigenous People such as Elias dos Nascimientos, as well as from the private sector through the handicraft buyer URUCUNAS and Ligia Ferrerira Tattoo. Their rich experiences facilitated a fruitful and dynamic exchange of ideas, marking an initial step towards cross-fertilization and knowledge-sharing among different sectors in this value chain. Insights provided by participants emphasised the vital connections between biodiversity as an economic source of indigenous peoples and their role as stewards of nature.  As mentioned by Filipe Arruda from the Research Institute for the Amazon (IPAM in Portuguese):


Knowing the stages of collection, production, distribution and marketing of handicrafts is essential for the development of more profitable and sustainable practices. The exchange of knowledge during the event showed that handicrafts, made mainly by indigenous women, add immeasurable cultural value. We need to encourage the creation of networks of artisans, as they face major challenges, ranging from the loss of biodiversity due to the reduction in natural resources used in the production of handicrafts to limited access to financial credit”. 


These types of insights contributed to the learning on all sides that took place at the event, given the few existing opportunities available to bring together representatives of different institutions and perspectives.  The workshop provided a friendly space to discuss and increase the mutual understanding about the current situation among indigenous peoples in terms of their livelihoods, and women-led handicraft value chains in the Brazilian Amazon.

 

Working as a team, workshop participants identified the significance of biodiversity in sustaining the livelihoods of indigenous peoples, as well as some of the main threats jeopardising their capability to sustain and scale forest-based cultural value chains. Issues relating to the production and commercialisation of indigenous handicrafts were listed and ranked, followed by the proposal of potential short and long-term solutions. It became evident that there is a need for greater understanding, articulation and attention to this significant livelihood source, recognising indigenous peoples as the guardians of the forest and biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon.

BIOTRAILS is eager to continue working with institutions, NGOs and indigenous peoples to implement analytical tools and methods that shed light on co-developing alternative pathways towards biodiversity-related transformative change. As highlighted during the workshop, this marks the initial phase of a series of steps towards increasing our understanding alongside key strategic stakeholders for the implementation of BIOTRAILS in Brazil. This effort aligns with the application of innovative research for decision-making and sustainable development.