Luis Felipe Cesar

Ashoka Fellow
Resende, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Fellow Since 2004

Citation

This profile was prepared when Luis Felipe Cesar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Mountainous regions in Brazil and throughout the world have an enormous wealth of biological diversity, natural resources and human potential, yet many are threatened by accelerating environmental degradation. Felipe sees local mountain people, not government agencies, as the key to protecting these vital natural resources, in Brazil and elsewhere. He believes that if the people can find ecologically sustainable work in these regions, they will become stewards of the land and protect this important resource as well as preserve their own unique communities. To that end, Felipe has developed a model to integrate environment and communities and increase related governmental awareness and policy on the local, national and international level.
Felipe works directly with the local population on the community level, building their capacity and promoting development with participatory management. He has created spaces for formal and informal training and succeeded in obtaining authorization from the local government to carry out small-scale sustainable agricultural and mining activities in the Serrinha, a community of the Serra da Mantiqueira. This has generated employment and income in the area and made Serrinha a model of participatory management in Brazil.
He also works directly with stakeholders at the national and international level. Within the governmental sphere, he develops links between the mountain community and local and federal governments and is able to influence public policies to preserve and develop these areas. He believes the Brazilian Forestry Code fails to consider specific needs of mountainous regions and must incorporate compensation for environmental products and services for their communities. Felipe also works with an international forests network to seek out and implement best practices and demonstrate the importance of Brazilian forest regions.
Felipe believes preservation and sustainable development policies for mountainous areas will only arise through strategic pressure from civil society, via publications and relations with key government officials. His ultimate goal is for a spontaneous movement of civil society to create a National Committee for Mountain Ecosystems, which will coordinate, support and stimulate activities, establish specific national policies and interact with United Nations agencies.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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