Claudio Padua

Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPE)
Year founded: 

Video (Portuguese)

Through science, education and local engagement, IPE promotes conservation and sustainable development of Brazil’s natural resources.

Focus: Biodiversity, Environment, Education, Business Development
Geographic Area of Impact: Brazil
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 10,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 3.74 million (2010)
Percentage earned revenue: 20%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, Brazil, 2009

Brazil is renowned for its rich biodiversity and natural resources, but these are under threat. The Atlantic Forest, one of the most important rainforests, has lost 93% of its original area, with the extinction of several animal and plant species. The Amazon, the world’s biggest rainforest, faces devastation from agricultural expansion and logging. Brazil must balance environmental protection with economic growth.

Innovation and Activities
IPE promotes conservation and sustainable development in impoverished communities throughout Brazil. The organization aims to conserve biodiversity while respecting the traditions of local communities living near areas in need of protection. To achieve its mission IPE carries out a number of activities, including: research of rare or endangered species; environmental educational programmes; professional training in conservation biology; policy advocacy for biodiversity conservation; partnership engagement with companies to improve social and environmental responsibilities; and projects that encourage sustainable alternatives for income generation of communities living near protected areas.

IPE has directly assisted in the conservation planning and sustainable use of millions of hectares in the Amazon and Atlantic Forest regions. A project in the western Sao Paulo state of Pontal do Paranapanema, for example, combines environmental protection with the introduction of sustainable agro-forestry techniques to local farmers so that they do not adversely impact the region’s biodiversity. As a result of its efforts, IPE managed to remove the black lion tamarin from the list of severely endangered species.

In 1999 IPE founded the Brazilian Center for Conservation Biology in Nazaré Paulista in the state of Sao Paulo. It shares knowledge gained from 20 years of wildlife and conservation research through courses to audiences on themes like conservation biology, conservation medicine, wildlife management, sustainable development, environmental education, environmental law and the history of ecology. The centre has a Master’s programme accreditated by the Brazilian Ministry of Education, with support from big Brazilian companies like Natura and Fibria and the Arapyau Institute. It is creating an MBA on management of socio-environmental business. IPE is also the major shareholder of a 2.5 company that successfully works with new business connected to payment for ecosystem services.

The Entrepreneurs
Coming from traditional Brazilian families, Claudio and Suzana Padua left lives as a businessman and designer for a life of adventure as conservationists. In the 1980s they moved with their three children to the Pontal do Paranapanema in western Sao Paulo state to fulfill that dream. What began as a project to study the black lion tamarin developed into IPE, which now includes +80 professionals working in 45 projects. Claudio focuses on the environmental and technical part of projects, and deals with the institution’s administration and partnerships with the private sector, the development of carbon offset projects, marketing initiatives and engaging the corporate world in social and environmental responsibilities. Together with Brazilian businessmen he is a shareholder of a start-up company whose mission is to use REDD++ and other innovative mechanisms to create five million hectares of privately protected areas in Amazonia. Suzana dedicates herself to environmental education and the socioeconomic integration of communities where IPE works. She is an Ashoka Fellow, an Avina leader and a member of the Women’s Corporate Directors in Brazil. IPE's projects have received awards including the Whitley Gold Award in 2002 and three times the Ford Company Award for conservation. IPE also received the 2003 Efficiency Award, as one of the 50 best-administered organizations in Brazil.