50th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Sustainable Regional Growth and Development in the Creative Knowledge Economy", 19-23 August 2010, Jönköping, Sweden
This article analyses recent efforts to create a different institutional framework in Pará State, Brazilian Amazon to promote sustainable development. The region is economically peripheral to capitalism. Historically, Amazon river delta has been used as source of raw materials since XVII century, but only from the 1970's, when roads were built, is been massively occupied by frontier activities like timber, mining, cattle and more recently soya beans. The economy is driven by primary activities and low technological intensive sectors (OECD indicators), not presenting diversity in its production matrix. It is an export based economy on mining (63%) and agribusiness (17%). Has two large regional hubs (Manaus and Belem) that offer better infra-structure, are trade connections and present more agglomeration effects (Lemos, 2007) however, it is not attractive to capital and technology intensive activities, and highly educated people. The region presents the lowest social, economic and R&D indicators of the whole country. Its MDG indicators (UNDP) are closer to Somalia than to São Paulo the heart of a macro cephalic country. The region suffers of, what can be called a natural-resources and green curse. Para state government, knowing its limitations in terms of competitive advantages is trying to overpass the mass-production paradigm implementing three thematic science and technology parks on: energy, biotechnology and IT; agrarian and mining sciences; fisheries and forest, in order to add-value to State vocation activities and connected 2 million people in 2000km of optic-fiber high speed internet to take from isolation peripheral areas. Although, the starting point to promote regional innovation, based on knowledge shared among economic agents is quite low as the absorptive capacity of the society is also low, there is a common belief that learning and knowledge-based economies do not exclusively occur in high technologically-intensive economies and can promote better use of natural resources. Asymmetrical interdependency among regions is contributing to maintain this lag. More recently, state government has been attentively inducting different institutional arrangements and investing in strategic research areas to promote a more sustainable development model. We discuss convergence on different Brazilian regions to evaluate the effect of these policies.