In their own time, on their own terms
Development banks have a crucial role to play in determining whether the future of the Brazilian Amazon will be one of intensifying deforestation, indigenous expropriation, and mineral extraction, or one of forest restoration, sustainable development, and indigenous livelihood protection. In either case, development banks and their safeguards – or lack thereof – are important arbiters of local development outcomes. The Amazon Fund hosted at Brazil’s National Economic and Social Development 262Bank (BNDES) provides a model for how banks can incorporate non-reimbursable lending into their portfolios in order to support community-led sustainable development projects that may fall outside the traditional parameters of development bank projects, such as an indigenous-run ecotourism enterprise examined here. Entrusting local actors and community-selected institutional partners to formulate development projects on their own terms and according to their own timetable increases local buy-in, leads to better social and environmental outcomes, and improves the public image of the lending institution.