Evaluating the economic, social and environmental costs of planned road projects in the Amazon Basin

Amazon Basin

Photo: Shutterstock/ Dr. Morley Read

With generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, CSF is working on a project to identify the relative riskiness of planned road projects in terms of economic, social and environmental costs in the Amazon basin, and to engage decision makers to ensure that this analysis is relevant, understood and to the greatest extent possible considered in decision-making processes.

Working closely with the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM), we are building on our experience in evaluating roads, including related to land use change and environmental and social impacts. Our goal is to move governments and investors towards better road planning that concurrently promotes (or at least carefully balances) economic growth, social concerns and the conservation of natural resources. This goal is best met if multiple proposed road projects can be analyzed at the same time, to facilitate promotion of the best projects and cancellation of the worst, rather than considering in-depth only a fraction of the portfolio. However, it is not practical to simultaneously develop environmental strategic assessments for each of the dozens of proposed roads in the Amazon. This project will fill this analytical gap by systematically and simultaneously analyzing the expected environmental, economic, social, and cultural impacts of the region’s major proposed road construction projects.

We are engaging decision-makers throughout this project, including in the identification of decision-making processes that may be most open to input. Our communication strategy for this project is especially directed toward government agencies, and will highlight particularly risky projects, make recommendations for investment aimed at optimizing societal benefits, and seek to more broadly increase appreciation for data driven and well informed decision-making