Innovative Partnership Between U.S. & South American Universities to Address Andean Amazon Conservation

For Immediate Release

Friday, February 8, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. - To combat deforestation in the Andean Amazon, four U.S. universities have been awarded funding by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development (HED) to partner with South American universities to enhance local biodiversity conservation and sustainability.

Announced today, these partnerships in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will strengthen regional academia and train local people in the Amazon, including those from indigenous communities, to implement conservation best practices. This nearly $3 million project over two-and-a-half years is part of the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA), USAID’s biodiversity program to protect and manage precious natural resources that are threatened by deforestation.

"Leveraging the biodiversity expertise of universities will foster the next generation of experts and help get university practitioners in the field to work directly with communities on the toughest conservation challenges,” said Lawrence Rubey, director, USAID’s Office of Regional Sustainable Development for Latin America and the Caribbean. “These partnerships are critical to strengthening the ability of local actors to protect the Andean Amazon.” 

The universities will engage the private and public sector at the local and regional levels, indigenous communities, and non-governmental organizations to strengthen local capacity through training opportunities. They will participate in joint research, develop higher education courses, and fund new scholarship and fellowship opportunities to identify and recommend new, sustainable approaches to managing threats to biodiversity.

  • Bolivia: The University of Florida will team up with Universidad Amazónica de Pando to develop a program in natural resources management.
  • Colombia: Florida International University will work with Pontificia Universidad Javeriana to develop a research collaboration network.
  • Ecuador: The University of North Carolina and Universidad San Francisco de Quito will launch a new certificate program in Amazonian Studies.
  • Peru: The University of Richmond and Universidad Nacional de Ucayali will integrate an applied interdisciplinary, science-based certificate program.

“The partnerships that make up the ICAA II Higher Education Partnership Program have put forth strong plans that are as inclusive as they ambitious. With goals to learn and teach, these partnerships are now on the way to strengthening capacity of local universities for long-term improvements,” added Tully R. Cornick, HED’s executive director.

The partnerships illustrate the valuable role that universities play in tackling biodiversity challenges and their ability to advance regional conservation.

About Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon II

The Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon II: Higher Education Partnership Program seeks to strengthen capacity building by improving applied research, training students, and engaging the public in support of the conservation of biodiversity. For information on USAID’s Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon, please visit

About Higher Education for Development

HED mobilizes the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. HED manages a competitive awards process to access expertise with the higher education community in coordination with the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). For more information about HED, visit