- How can modern technology be used to locate and measure oil spills or gas flaring?
- How can reliable evidence in remote and scarcely populated regions be systematically collected?
- How can the evidence gathered be used to campaign against the impacts?
About the research
These are the questions ISS researchers Dr Lorenzo Pellegrini and Professor Murat Arsel are seeking to answer. All Eyes on the Amazon aims to make a major positive impact on the current situation in the Amazon by working in nine project locations in Ecuador, Brazil, and Peru covering a total of about 8 million hectares of forest.
In order to stop deforestation in these areas, ISS is working together with the local community to contribute to an interconnected network of forest ‘protectors’. The local and indigenous communities are central to this network but research institutions, law enforcement agencies and environmental and human rights organizations also play a vital role.
Together the network works on:
- ‘Radical transparency’ by collecting evidence of deforestation and environmental damage,
- ‘Full responsibility’ through evidence-based action like campaigns but also better law enforcement
- ‘Durable solutions’ by helping to create or further improve local conditions that enable better protection of the rainforest. For example, financing of forest ranger teams.
A unique element of this project is the use of state-of-the-art-technology, such as satellites and drones by local indigenous communities to monitor and collect evidence of environmental damage. As Lorenzo Pellegrini states: ‘Drones are incredibly effective as you can capture images of an oil spill in a flooded forest and get a pretty good idea of the size of the spill’.
Building on over 10 years of research and partnerships with local organizations and communities, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Murat Arsel focus on technical capacity building for the local monitoring activities and on monitoring and evaluating the impact of anti-deforestation strategies – both in terms of concrete outcomes and through the assessment of socioeconomic and environmental institutions.
Why is this research relevant?
Forests, rainforests in particular, are extremely important for the local as well as global environment. Absorbing carbon monoxide and releasing oxygen, rainforests are often referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’.
They are also home for over 150 million indigenous people worldwide. Despite the importance of the rainforests, they are being cut down at an extremely fast pace and, as a result both of deforestation and of resources extraction, indigenous peoples are being forced from their homes.
This research is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 15 on protecting life on land to stop land degradation and loss of biodiversity. It is also related to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action and mitigating climate change.
Lorenzo Pellegrini and Murat Arsel have a long history of carrying out action research into the dynamics of conflicts and the collaboration in the management of natural resources in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.
Three ISS PhD researchers work closely with the researchers on the political ecology and ecological economics of deforestation.
Led by Hivos and Greenpeace, in total fifteen local organizations and eleven coalition partners, including ISS, are involved in the project
- Lorenzo Pellegrini, Murat Arsel, Martí Orta-Martínez, Carlos F Mena 2020 - International investment agreements, human rights and environmental justice: The Texaco/Chevron case from the Ecuadorian Amazon, in Journal of International Economic Law Volume 23, Issue 2, June 2020, Pages 455–468
- Lorenzo Pelegrini et al. 2020 Community-Based Monitoring of Oil Extraction: Lessons Learned in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in Society & Natural Resources
- Murat Arsel, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Carlos Mena 2019 Maria’s paradox and the misery of missing development alternatives in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in R. Kanbur, R. Sandbrook, and P. Shaffer, (eds), Immiserizing Growth: When Growth Fails the Poor (pp. 203–225). Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Elissaios Papyrakis and Lorenzo Pellegrini 2019 The Resource Curse in Latin America, in Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Lorenzo Pellegrini and Murat Arsel 2018 Oil and Conflict in the Ecuadorian Amazon: An Exploration of Motives and Objectives, CEDLA
- Marti Orta-Martinez, Lorenzon Pellegrini and Murat Arsel 2018 'The squeaky wheel gets the grease'? The conflict imperative and the slow fight against environmental injustice in northern Peruvian Amazon, in Ecology and Society, Volume 23, no. 3
- Lorenzo Pellegrini, 2018 Imaginaries of development through extraction: The ‘History of Bolivian Petroleum’ and the present view of the future, in Geoforum, Volume 90, March 2018
With funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the Swedish Postcode Foundation, and the Postcode Planet Trust, All Eyes on the Amazon takes as its starting point the importance of local communities in protecting the rainforest.
Can oil extraction lead to development?
Investigating the damage caused by oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Research at ISS - Environment and Climate Change
All Eyes on the Amazon - video trailer
The ears and eyes of the Amazon
Interview with Dr Lorenzo Pellegrini
Fighting oil pollution in the Amazon
Empowering indigenous communities with modern technology
Underground fossil fuel reserves for socio-environmental benefits
Presentation by Dr Lorenzo Pellegrini