Published: Sunday 31 December 1995

Amapa, one of the poorest states of Brazil, has won plaudits for its development model. Spearheading the change is Joao Alberto Capiberibe, a former guerrilla who is now governor of the state. Capiberibe's commitment to sustainable development has been described by the environmental group, Friends of the Earth as "unprecedented and unique." Summing up his philosophy, Capiberibe says: "I started from a very simple diagnosis. Our natural resources are disappearing, and unless we do something about that, we will be left in a situation of eternal poverty."

Amapa has reason to be fiercely possessive about its natural resources. Its isolation has slowed the rate of destruction caused by migration and deforestation common in the Amazon basin. To further safeguard these resources, Capiberibe plans to give a boost to projects such as tourism, fishing and mining to provide jobs and income for the local people who might otherwise invade protected areas of natural and indigenous reserves.

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