The issues of global climate change, environmental preservation and food security have emerged as dominant themes on the international agenda. Nowhere is the convergence of these issues more apparent than in Brazil—a major food supplier and owner of more than 65 percent of the Amazon rain forest—and, especially, in the state of Mato Grosso. As Brazil's leading producer of various foodstuffs (it supplies 8 percent of the world's soya) with its northern border along the "frontier" of the Amazon, Mato Grosso is at the center of the broader debate about economic development and environmental sustainability.
To advance dialogue and promote effective policy that addresses these interlinked issues, the Brazil Institute convened a seminar focused on "Agriculture and Sustainability" with the principal stakeholders. The governor of Mato Grosso, Blairo Maggi, and agricultural sector representatives, researchers, business leaders from the state were joined by prominent international environmentalists. The debate centered on increasing the value of forested regions, emphasizing the need for carbon markets; the detrimental climate impact of agriculture protectionism in advanced countries; monitoring and tracking of deforestation; the productivity of Brazilian agriculture and prospects for greater technological advances; improving infrastructure, stability of land tenure and questions of more effective governance; and the important role of the "Amazon rain machine" in the hydrologic cycle of agriculture in Brazil.