Project engages businesses in Peru to promote green growth, decrease deforestation

USAID-funded Amazon Business Alliance is led by the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes

September 28, 2021

Peru’s natural resources are under threat of overconsumption due to unsustainable land use, rapid development and poor land management. Entrepreneurs in Peru also lack resources to build viable enterprises that are reliant on those natural resources.

To tackle these issues, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the Amazon Business Alliance (formerly the Amazon Development Entrepreneurial & Learning Alliance (ADELA) program) to “engage investors, entrepreneurs and conservation-focused businesses to promote green growth, and decrease deforestation and natural resource degradation, while improving community livelihoods.” Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, one half in good condition with green trees, and the other half has been cleared completely, leaving only dirt and smoke. Peru’s natural resources are under threat of overconsumption due to unsustainable land use, rapid development and poor land management. Photo by Richard Whitcombe/Shutterstock Download Full Image

The USAID program emerged while Percy Summers, project lead for Conservation International, was in residence at Arizona State University as a Conservation International-Center for Biodiversity Outcomes professor of practice. Both ASU and Conservation International responded separately to USAID’s call for conceptual approaches to developing sustainable solutions for these challenges, but in seeing how they could work together, Conservation International and ASU decided to join forces to submit the combined Amazon Business Alliance proposal.

The project will now continue its work at ASU with leadership from the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), supporting the Alliance's endeavors to create local, sustainable economic opportunities and bolster green investments. 

“Even though both CBO and Conservation International are experts at biodiversity conservation, this USAID opportunity specifically sought to integrate economic development with conservation,” said Rajesh Buch, director of business development at the Solutions Service. “The work that the Solutions Service has done in partnership with the city of Phoenix (through the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network) to enhance and optimize their resource management programs and practices over the course of 2013–19 uniquely positioned ASU to integrate these disciplines to develop a holistic approach to job creation and resource conservation.”

Leah Gerber, founding director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, will serve as principal investigator on the project.

“The Amazon Business Alliance brings together CBO and the Solutions Service to innovate ways to integrate biodiversity and other sustainable development goals into green economic development," she said. "While we focus on Peru for this project, our work lays the foundation for extensions and applications globally.”

The Solutions Service will help design and train organizations and individuals to operate an economic development platform that documents the strengths, opportunities and challenges in the Ucayali and San Martín regions of Peru. They will also generate a report on the markets, human capital, culture, finance/investor networks, support and policy, then produce recommendations based on the findings. The Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will assist by building and testing biodiversity-restoration decision support tools that will analyze the costs and benefits of potential interventions for the region.

Conventional economic development tools focus on creating the enabling conditions for economic development and commerce, but do not take resource extraction and consumption into account. The ASU team is pioneering and innovating a methodology that integrates economic development and biodiversity management tools so that local and regional commerce and job creation can be stimulated, while natural resources can be sustainably consumed.

The project hopes to spawn around 100 business- and environmentally friendly development projects, create new investment opportunities, help Peru reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve livelihoods for Indigenous communities, reduce deforestation and more.

Madelyn Nelson

Editorial Associate, Global Futures Laboratory, Knowledge Enterprise


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How cartography helped the Grand Canyon become grand

September 28, 2021

ASU team to share historic and interdisciplinary atlas with the public

Published in 1882, “Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas” was the first monograph produced by the United States Geological Survey. 

Written by the “poet of the Grand Canyon,” Clarence Dutton, the work intersected literature, art and cartography. It changed the way the Grand Canyon was viewed and respected, as an iconic geological masterpiece.

“For more than three centuries prior to the publication of Dutton’s geological analysis of the Grand Canyon, Europeans had visited the region on more than a few occasions. They dismissed it as valueless each time,” said Matthew Toro, director of maps, imagery and geospatial services at the ASU Library. 

“As late as 1861, one observer infamously wrote that the Grand Canyon was a ‘profitless locality.’ Dutton and his associates, on the other hand, seamlessly combined geological science, literary prose on landscape aesthetics, a collection of topographic and geologic maps, and some of the most iconic illustrations and panoramic landscape views of the Grand Canyon ever created,” Toro said.

“Dutton’s works offered a new way to envision and interpret the canyon. They helped transform our consciousness of the Grand Canyon region into the landscape icon we now know it to be.”

Now, almost 140 years later, a team of Arizona State University humanities scholars seeks to give new life to Dutton’s work.

Stephen Pyne, professor emeritus at the School of Life Sciences; Steven Semken, professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration; Julie Tanaka, curator for rare books and manuscripts at the ASU Library; and Toro, the project’s director, together form the core team for “Dutton’s Atlas: How Cartography Helped the Canyon Become Grand.”

The project will include four main components: 

  • A digital atlas counterpart to the rare physical atlas.

  • An interactive online multimedia exhibit that curates the atlas with maps, images and video.

  • A complementary physical exhibit.

  • A symposium event offering insightful presentations on the various historical-geographical and socio-cultural dimensions of the atlas.

The project’s title is directly inspired by the 1999 book “How the Canyon Became Grand,” by project co-investigator Pyne. The book considers historical, environmental, intellectual and cultural perspectives of the Grand Canyon, paralleling the interdisciplinary analysis that the project hopes to achieve.

“We intend to deepen the public’s sense of space, time and place, specifically their own interpretations of the Grand Canyon region,” Toro said.

“Dutton’s Atlas” is supported by the ASU Library, the ASU Institute for Humanities Research, the ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration and, most recently, a 2022 project grant award from Arizona Humanities

“Over the term of the 2022 project period, we will leverage the Arizona Humanities award to execute the multifaceted project and deliver a rich combination of scholarly research, digital storytelling and event programming to Arizonans and the broader public,” Toro said.

Engaging humanities scholars and Native representatives, the project will highlight the role of cartography in fostering new perspectives and insights about the Grand Canyon. 

Together, the digital atlas, digital and in-person exhibits and symposium will help audiences appreciate Dutton’s historic contributions and discover their own relationships and connections with the canyon. 

Top image: "The Transept, Kaibab Division, Grand Cañon: An Amphitheater of the Second Order," from Clarence Dutton's “Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas.” Scanned from the 1977 republication of the original 1882 material. Photo courtesy of ASU Library Map and Geospatial Hub

Lauren Whitby

Digital Marketing Manager , The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences