A key partner of the UNESCO MAB (Man and the Biosphere) program, LVMH recently announced the launch of a joint project to combat deforestation in the Amazon, which is a major threat to the region’s precious ecosystems. This initiative is part of the Group’s own program LIFE 360 (LVMH Initiatives For the Environment), through which it is committed to contributing to the rehabilitation of five million hectares of habitat for flora and fauna across the world and to limiting the environmental impact of its activities. To mark the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2021, LVMH and UNESCO are unveiling two sustainability initiatives within biosphere reserves in Bolivia and Ecuador, which demonstrate how their joint project to safeguard the Amazon Basin is being implemented on the ground.
With a budget of five million euros over five years, the LVMH and UNESCO partnership in the Amazon aims to reconcile environmental protection and sustainable development, respectful of local cultural contexts. Two major issues were previously identified: the reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded lands, and the creation of sustainable employment and alternative sources of income for local populations, which do not involve recourse to deforestation.
The first of these goals is being addressed by an initiative in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Beni in Bolivia. Here, the Tsimane indigenous people and local people living along the Maniqui river practice small-scale subsistence and commercial agriculture, based on rotational fallow systems. However, the forests in the surrounding area have been heavily logged in recent decades, with the result that many native timber species, such as mahogany, have been depleted. The objective of this initiative is to provide families living in four communities of the Beni Biosphere Reserve with seeds of high-quality native timber species (mahogany) and crops (plantain, coffee, cocoa and citrus), thus enabling them to create plots under agroforestry systems based on fallow areas. Not only will this initiative promote a sustainable, long-term economic activity for indigenous and local peoples, but it will also contribute to the prevention of fires – another major threat to the ecosystems of the Amazon – by avoiding slash-and-burn cycles in further areas.
The second project focuses on empowering youth in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Yasuní in Ecuador. People from the reserve’s Limoncocha community have no access to basic services, such as water, sanitary systems and waste treatment, while plastic pollution has become a significant problem in the area’s rivers. The Mushuk Sacha (ASORECMUSA) recycling association, established by young people in 2019, collects and transforms plastic into new materials, generating jobs and income for local and indigenous youth, while also raising awareness of the importance of waste treatment for the protection of the ecosystem. With the support provided by LVMH and UNESCO, the association will be able to diversify its production of recycled plastic products by strengthening its technical and marketing capacities, and improving its collection and transformation infrastructure. A four-day training program will be developed and delivered to young participants, with the initiative directly benefiting and providing jobs for 23 young people in the community.