Amazonia-Yungas Observatory on Biodiversity and Indigenous Health and Well-being: Development of a South-South-North research and partner consortium

This project was for a 6 month partnership and development catalyst project to build an interdisciplinary research and partner consortium that would involve and support some of the most marginalised peoples in their countries and internationally. The resulting proposal for further funding was unsuccessful.

Indigenous peoples are amongst the most disadvantaged peoples internationally. Yet these peoples are also the guardians of some of the most important ecosystems on the planet. Amazonia is one of Earth's most precious ecosystems. As the Amazonian forest reaches the Andes it merges with a contiguous and equally important biosphere: the Yungas (or Cloud Forest). These two sister forest ecosystems are amongst the most biodiverse regions of the world, spanning several Latin American countries including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia. Together, across these four countries, these ecosystems span more than 6 million square kilometers, roughly 25 times the size of the UK. For millennia, spanning modern geopolitical boundaries, over 400 different indigenous peoples have protected Amazonia and the Yungas. In turn, Amazonia and the Yungas have provided health and well-being for these indigenous peoples via food, medicines, home, culture, and natural resources. These forest biospheres also provide the world with some of its most important ecosystem services in terms of forest and food resources, current and potential new medicines, rainfall regulation and a global carbon sink.

Internationally, there is an urgent need to improve understanding of the importance of biodiversity for human health and well-being particularly for communities directly dependent on biodiverse ecosystems. The need is especially urgent in this fragile and vital region, home to such interdependent biological and cultural diversity, and currently under major threat from exogenous forces such as deforestation, resource extraction and climate change.

This project was a 6-month grant to develop a major partnership and research consortium to lead and manage an Amazonia-Yungas Observatory on Biodiversity and Indigenous Health and Wellbeing. Such an observatory provided vital evidence on the links of biodiversity and indigenous health and well-being in the region and internationally, and was a major evidence base for decision-makers and indigenous and environmental stakeholder groups.

This project was led by international and regional scientists from Argentina, Peru, Brazil, the UK and Canada who formed an initial interdisciplinary team of biologists, social and environmental epidemiologists, anthropologists, veterinary scientists and social scientists working with a diverse group of local, regional and international actors including ecological foundations and indigenous associations, and international agencies. We placed a major emphasis on development of partners who supported and guided the Observatory and who were major users of the Observatory in the longer term.

The project's aims were: 1) to develop a multi-disciplinary South-South-North research consortium to propose, then lead and run a Yungas-Amazonia Observatory on Biodiversity and Indigenous Health and Well-being; 2) to develop a multi-stakeholder network of partner organisations committed to develop, support, promote and use findings of the Yungas-Amazonia Observatory on Biodiversity and Indigenous Health and Well-being.  Objectives: 1) to review existing evidence on links of biodiversity and indigenous health in the Yungas and Amazonia; 2) to hold a regional workshop with both partner organisations and members of the proposed research consortium to discuss and develop a major interdisciplinary proposal for a 5 year Yungas-Amazonia Observatory on Biodiversity and Indigenous Health and Well-being; 3) to produce a proposal for the Yungas-Amazonia Observatory including research team and methods; partner organisations; impact plan; environmental offsetting plan; and beneficiary and uptake plan.

Lead Principal Investigator
Organisation: London Sch of Hygiene and Trop Medicine
Country: United Kingdom
Co Investigator
Organisation: Federal University of Pernambuco
Country: Brazil
Co Investigator
Organisation: Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia
Country: Peru
Co Investigator
Organisation: University of Guelph
Country: Canada
Organisation: Institute of Development Studies
Country: United Kingdom