Governance and the Rule of Law

<< Back to Programs

Diverse challenges limit market expansion and integrity in the Amazon. Obstacles range from land title forgery to the absence of law enforcement.

1 – Rule-of-Law Philanthropy Landscape Analysis and Report

To understand the issues, we are developing a landscape analysis to examine philanthropic investments in rule-of-law activities across the region.  We hope the results of the analysis will identify gaps and guide future philanthropic investing.  We seek partners to:

• Design the survey to capture the diversity and complexity of rule-of-law work with special attention given to government budgets, the role of philanthropy and its sources, including private corporations, grantmaking foundations, multilateral organizations, and bilateral development agencies

• Present the results of the survey to donor communities around the world

• Publish select findings and raise awareness through partnerships with relevant media partners

• Enroll pre-existing communities of Amazon-focused philanthropies, and newcomers, in the task of filling gaps and addressing needs identified in the study


2 – Legal Defense and Planning Network

With an estimated 90% of Amazon deforestation deemed to be illegal, a lot needs to be done to defend the forest.  Exacerbated by climate and biodiversity crises, the forests and the communities who inhabit them are under threat. In order to defend these people and places, we know that it is critical to work together in coalition with local organizations, governments, and allies to guarantee their collective environmental and human rights through the rule of law.  The process is complex, with problems contained in one region often moving to another to avoid authorities.  To help, we propose funding an Amazon Legal Defense and Planning Network to defend rights and foster jurisdiction-wide legal and sustainable economic development. Towards this end, we encourage funding for leading organizations to:

• Develop a legal defense fund to work with local communities that experience forest-related crimes and other violations so they can protect their environmental and human rights by conducting the required research, filing lawsuits, and paying for attorney’s fees, court filings, litigation costs, legal advice, or other legal and technical needs. 

• Strengthen collaboration of allies including community leaders, local, national and international organizations, and legal advisors to facilitate knowledge sharing, produce legal opinions, assess risks, and seek alignment with international stakeholders. 

Analyze legal frameworks, plans, programs, and policies from local governments to multilateral institutions to assess climate, environmental, and human rights impacts, and propose best practices for relevant stakeholders to address them. While successful policies in one country might inspire innovation in another, mechanisms of inter-governmental cooperation and collaboration are also important and will be reviewed.

• Provide training to community leaders, local organizations, policymakers, prosecutors, public defenders, and other relevant stakeholders to help interpret and implement laws with special attention to international standards, legal instruments, and human rights.

• Support planning and implementation of jurisdiction-wide investment plans 


3 – Amazon Commerce Solidarity Network

In the face of increasing levels of illegal deforestation much needs to be done to disincentivize perpetrators, especially when law enforcement has limited impact.  The rising number of whistleblowers, drone deployments, and other forest monitoring strategies point to a widening circle of bad actors that can be identified.  Can pro-conservation consumers and merchants join forces to thwart impunity?  Given that an estimated 65% of South Americans have smartphones, banks and peer-to-peer payment networks could develop a loyalty discount program and scale it across the region.  Those implicated in illegal deforestation would be subject to a peer-to-peer dispute resolution system managed by Kleros and guilty parties would be barred from the loyalty program or otherwise penalized.  This strategy could simultaneously impose financial hardship and shame on perpetrators in a situation where other strategies have had limited success. As a group we encourage funding for experienced organizations to:

* Conceptualize and develop a pro-conservation loyalty discount brand with a public education campaign to enroll merchants and consumers across the region

• Develop partnerships with banks, payment networks, credit agencies and other relevant financial institutions to ensure market saturation of the program 

• Develop systems to discover and confirm identities of suspect perpetrators whose accounts will be restricted under the program

• Structure peer-to-peer dispute resolution systems to ensure the integrity of processes and give defendants due process rights and opportunities for appeal

• Impose restrictions on guilty parties according to their levels of unscrupulous conduct


4 – Investigative Journalism and Media Training

Environmental defenders and indigenous populations have faced recent violence when protecting forests from illegal loggers.  Photos and videos of assailants as well as documentation of human rights violations help to hold perpetrators responsible thereby reducing chances of future violence.  High integrity reporters and media resources are key to winning public support and counteracting false public narratives.  As a network of investors, we promote funding for experienced organizations to:

• Provide legal advice, media equipment and training to at-risk populations, especially indigenous communities

• Support investigative journalism to identify and expose relevant groups

• Examine and expose the production and public dissemination of Amazon-related disinformation intended to distort public awareness and facilitate political manipulation


5 – Landgrabbing Prevention Process

The Brazilian Forest Code permits Amazon landowners to deforest up to 20% of their land.  While some deforestation is permitted and even endorsed by certain political factions, there is consensus that illegal deforestation of designated public land must be stopped. As a network, we encourage funding to:

Understand the process of forging and selling illegal land titles

• Support a non-adversarial campaign to encourage government officials to investigate land title fraud and other kinds of landgrabbing

• Encourage transparency through community-led documentation of land and resource rights