Sustaining Our Rainforests, One Child at a Time

"Two weeks ago I was honored to be a part of a "Sustainable Rainforests" fundraising event in Monaco with H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco; the Governor of the State of Amazonas, Eduardo Braga; the president of OFS Brazil, Leda Bozaciyan; and many invited guests." - Jean-Michel Cousteau

In 2006 and 2007, twenty-five years after my father's expedition to the world's largest river, I returned to the Amazon with my son and daughter, Fabien and Celine, and the Ocean Futures Society expedition team. This adventure resulted in the production of the two-hour PBS documentary "Return to the Amazon" that highlighted the most powerful of the world's river systems and the intricate connections at a local and global level.

Emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, the Amazon flows through the world's largest tropical rainforest, a vast natural theater where evolution has gone wild, creating the greatest biodiversity of any area on the plant; but today many species are becoming endangered as the rainforest is being cut down at an alarming rate and growing local human populations are struggling to survive from the richness of the forest. But knowing that "people protect what they love," OFS has partnered with the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco to create, distribute and implement our newest educational program, "Sustainable Rainforests". This awareness-building initiative will consist of culturally appropriate, multi-media, educational resources to be distributed free of charge to middle school science educators and students in the Brazilian Amazon region.

From our various experiences in the Amazon, I have seen the beauty and appreciated the value of the rainforest to people of tropical nations. I have seen first-hand the vital connection between the health of the rainforest and the quality of peoples’ lives. These experiences have made it clear me that increased awareness and education are the necessary first steps in achieving sustainable management of the rainforest and its associated activities.

The ultimate goal of "Sustainable Rainforests" is to create unity among the young people that are being brought up in the Amazon region. This effort will make it possible for these future users and managers of the rainforest to understand the value of the rainforest, how it is threatened by human activity, and what can be done to avoid future mismanagement. We want young people to understand the global importance of their local rainforest and see how the connections of deforestation, pollution, and overfishing will not only be harmful to their lives but will also impact the rest of the world.

We want the young people of the Amazon to be stewards of what is everyone’s inheritance: a healthy, functioning tropical rainforest that is connected to global processes of the land, sea and atmosphere.

Two weeks ago I was honored to be a part of a "Sustainable Rainforests" fundraising event in Monaco with H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco; the Governor of the State of Amazonas, Eduardo Braga; the president of OFS Brazil, Leda Bozaciyan; and many invited guests. We enjoyed the "Return to the Amazon" photo exhibit and beautiful art work created by artists from Brazil, France and the United States. It is events like this, where people from around the world came together to support the long-term sustainability of the Amazon rainforest, that give me hope for the future. It reminds me of my interview with former Environment Minister of Brazil, Marina Silva, and her optimistic words about the future: " Maybe the idea of a sustainable use of natural resources as business would have been considered romantic 20 years ago, now it's possible. I believe it is possible to learn from our mistakes and to learn while making a difference in the present. Because if we don't make a difference in the present we can hardly expect to have the future we hope for."

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Jean-Michel Cousteau, President