The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship with the newspaper Folha de São Paulo recently recognized CEC member Suzana Padua and her husband, Claudio, for their work in the institute they founded, IPE-Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas. Suzana is CEC Regional Vice-Chair for South America.
The administrator and biologist Claudio Padua, and environmental educator Suzana Padua, after competing with 270 other social leaders from all over Brazil, became the first married couple to win the contest, reports Folha Online. "Environmental education and communication are important components of what we do," Suzana says, "and this award recognizes the significance of our fields." The following summary is from the Schwab Foundation:
Organization: Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPE)
Year Founded: 1992
Through science, education and local engagement, IPE promotes conservation and sustainable developlment of Brazil’s natural resources.
Focus: Biodiversity, Environment, Education, Business Development
Geographic Area of Impact: Brazil
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 10,000 (2009)
Annual Budget: US$ 3.5 million (2009)
Percentage earned revenue: 20%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, Brazil, 2009
Brazil is renowned for its rich biodiversity and natural resources. But they are under threat. The Atlantic Forest, one of the most important rainforests in the country, has lost 93% of its original area, with the extinction of several animal and plant species. The Amazon, the world’s biggest rainforest, faces devastation from agricultural expansion and logging. One of the great challenges facing Brazil is balancing environmental protection with economic growth.
Innovation and Activities
IPE-Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research) promotes conservation and sustainable development in impoverished communities throughout Brazil. IPE aims to conserve biodiversity while respecting the traditions of local communities living near areas in need of protection.
To achieve its mission, IPE carries out a number of activities, including: research of rare or endangered species; environmental educational programmes; professional training in conservation biology; policy advocacy for biodiversity conservation; partnership engagement with companies to improve social and environmental responsibilities; and projects that encourage sustainable alternatives for income generation of communities living near protected areas.
IPE has directly assisted in the planning for conservation and sustainable use of millions of hectares in the Amazon and Atlantic Forest regions. A project in Pontal do Paranapanema, for example, combines environmental protection with introducing sustainable agro-forestry techniques to local farmers so that they don’t adversely impact the region’s biodiversity. As a result of its efforts, IPE managed to remove the black lion tamarin from the list of severely endangered species.
In 1999, IPE founded the Brazilian Center for Conservation Biology in Nazaré Paulista in the state of Sao Paulo. Its objective is to share the knowledge gained during 20 years of wildlife and conservation research. In addition to teaching conservation biology, it offers courses in conservation medicine, wildlife management, sustainable development, environmental education, environmental law and the history of ecology.
Coming from traditional families from Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, Claudio and Suzana Padua gave up the comfort of their lives as a businessman and designer, respectively, for a life of adventure as conservationists. In the late 1980s, they moved with their three children to Pontal do Paranapanema in western Sao Paulo State to fulfill that dream. What began as a project to study the black lion tamarin, developed into IPE, which today comprises more than 70 professionals working in 45 projects throughout Brazil. Claudio focuses on the environmental and technical part of the projects, while Suzana dedicates her time to environmental education and the socioeconomic integration of communities where IPE works. IPE's projects have received several prestigious awards, including the Whitley Gold Award in 2002. IPE also received the 2003 Efficiency Award, which recognizes the 50 best administered organizations in Brazil.