What is the MATOPIBA Social and Environmental Conflicts Observatory?

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Check out the Polyce Briefing,

published March 2022 by

Institute for Development Studies (IDS) from the University Sussex,

United Kingdom



The Matopiba Social and Environmental Conflicts Observatory is an initiative based on a workshop held at UnB in 2019. In a delicate moment in the political situation in the country and in universities, its format enables the construction of spaces for political action through science engaged, dialoguing with the social responsibility of universities.    


The territory called MATOPIBA – composition of the acronyms of the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia – was formalized, in 2015, by Decree 8447. This geographic delimitation was established based on studies by the Territorial and Strategic Intelligence Group (GITE), of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), through Ordinance No. 244, instituted the Matopiba s Agricultural Development Plan (PDA). 


Decree 8447 was revoked in 2020, with the enactment of Decree 10,473. However, the “last agricultural frontier” in Brazil continues, constituting the largest territorial extension in the world, impacted by the expansion of monocultures and extensive cattle raising. This dynamic in Matopiba is expected to continue in the post-pandemic period with an increase in demand for commodities in the global market, causing changes in land use, deforestation and conflicts over land tenure.


The Matopiba Social and Environmental Conflicts Observatory is a network or platform initiative to monitor, monitor, study and report predatory advances on the agricultural frontier. It features work by researchers from various universities and leaders, representatives of social movements, entities and organizations (NGOs) working in Matopiba and the Cerrado, engaged in understanding and denouncing socio-environmental conflicts that impact the communities in the territory. Therefore, the Matopiba Observatory aims to support conservation actions, based on studies on socio-environmental conflicts in the Cerrado.


The Observatory can serve both to affirm the socio-biodiversity model and to denounce the visible and invisible impacts of the agribusiness model. However, it is important to always highlight as a priority the statement that there are other models of development.



It currently has five activities in progress:


-      Preparation of studies and analyzes focusing on the themes of poverty and inequality arising from the expansion of the agricultural frontier in Matopiba;


-   Survey of legislation and changes in state environmental and land legislation in the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí, and Bahia, as well as their consequences for the socio-environmental agenda;


-      Survey of key actors in the discussion on the implementation of public environmental policies, on the conservation of the biome, and on the defense of the rights of traditional peoples and communities in Matopiba;


-      Survey and systematization of socio-environmental and/or land conflicts in Matopiba, caused by gaps, omissions in implementation, or non-compliance with the legal system;


-     Identification of opportunities for state incidence to conserve the cerrado and guarantee the rights of traditional peoples and communities.


Mapa localização região do MATOPIBA