This profile was prepared when Clóvis Borges was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1988.
The New Idea
Brazil's mounting environmental problems have become so obvious that both the Brazilian public and world population--and now many of the major institutions (the World Bank and at least some businesses and government agencies in Brazil)--have become concerned. A number of these actors are beginning to realize that they must at least understand the environmental implications of their actions. Some are beginning to act to avert or mitigate the damage.As a result, there is now a demand for sound, credible technical environmental support in business and government as well as among citizens' groups. Clovis believes that the government's many agencies are incapable of responding adequately or promptly.At the same time that the country's institutions are beginning to recognize this critical need, year after year Brazil is losing many of the biologists and other environmental professionals that it trains. Outside of government, there are almost no jobs for them. They graduate, cannot find work, and drift into other callings.Clovis created the non-profit Wildlife Research and Environmental Education Society (SPVS) to solve both problems. His organization has a small core staff and forty active associates ready to help as needed; all are young environmental scientists and technicians. SPVS plans to build an economic base by helping institutions solve their environmental problems on contract. Any future profits are to be reinvested in major environmental research/action and education initiatives that the group's members feel are most important.Clovis hopes SPVS will help major institutions learn how to deal with what is now an unfamiliar dimension of decision-making. At the same time, these institutions will be setting a standard of professional performance that will help them build skilled internal capacity. Clovis and his colleagues are starting to help institutions develop conservation and resource management plans and put new or restored ecosystems in place. They also give technical assistance to zoos, animal reserves, and parks. SPVS pursues its own objectives as well. The organization prepares environmental education materials ranging from postcards to teaching materials for use in schools. Its members give environmental lectures and seminars. It documents and publicizes the damage to flora and fauna caused by ill-planned development of all sorts. It hopes to survey and monitor the condition of Parana's plants and wildlife and to help reintroduce endangered species into the areas from where they have disappeared. If he can make this first SPVS group a success, Clovis hopes to expand it throughout Brazil, either through a series of chapters and/or as others copy his model. He already has 450 would-be associates ready to work across Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.