The Brazilian Amazon has a Social Progress Index lower than the national average, according to an unprecedented study of 772 municipalities

Press release

  • The “2014 Amazon SPI” report resulted from an evaluation of 43 social and environmental indicators
  • Prepared by means of collaboration provided by the #Progresso Social Brasil network, the study was conducted by Imazon, in partnership with the Social Progress Imperative (SPI) and the Avina

August 23, 2014 The Brazilian Amazon, known internationally for its natural resources and its environmental importance for Brazil and the world, is a region in which 24 million people live amid social challenges and lack of opportunities for the majority of its population. This was the scenario addressed by the unprecedented study, “Social Progress Index (SPI) in the Brazilian Amazon – 2014 Amazon SPI," prepared from collaboration provided by the #Progresso Social Brasil network and conducted by the Imazon research institute in partnership with the Social Progress Imperative (SPI), a global non-profit institution, and the Avina Foundation, from the months of February to July 2014.

The 2014 Amazon SPI report shows that the region has a general SPI of 57.31, lower than the national average of 67.73, based on a range that goes from 0 (worst level of social progress) to 100 (best). In the evaluation of each of the 772 municipalities in the region, 98.5% had an SPI lower than the average of Brazil, which is in 46th position in the global ranking of 132 countries, according to the latest edition of the global SPI study launched in April, in which the leaders New Zealand, Switzerland and Iceland obtained an average higher than 88.

The dimensions evaluated by the Amazon SPI reflect, in general, the statistical method of the Social Progress Index created by the Social Progress Imperative to help globally guide investment decisions and government policies that have a positive impact on peoples' lives, based on 54 indicators exclusively in the social and environmental areas. Designed with the support of experts in public policies around the world, the SPI is based on the understanding that development measures based only or primarily on economic variables are insufficient to measure social progress.

The Amazon evaluated in three dimensions

To calculate the Amazon SPI, 43 recent indicators from public and reliable sources were used, some of which were chosen to better reflect the peculiarities of the local reality – such as the incidence of malaria and deforestation, – but preserving conditions for comparability with the rest of Brazil. This project represented the first effective initiative for application of the global SPI in an eminently local context.

Following the SPI methodology, three dimensions were considered in surveying the 772 municipalities of the 9 states of the Amazon: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The best result was obtained in the Foundations of Wellbeing dimension, with an average index of 64.84, and the worst was in Opportunity, with 48.33. This dimension also presents the largest disparity between the region and the rest of the country (21%), demonstrating that there is a lack of opportunities for the Amazon population (see the complete results for the three dimensions evaluated in the region below).

Results of the “2014 Amazon SPI”

Check out the results obtained by the region in each dimension evaluated, in comparison with the performance of Brazil in the Social Progress Index (SPI).




Social Progress Index (SPI)



Dimension – Basic human Needs



Nutrition and Basic Medical Care



Water and Sanitation






Personal Safety



Dimension – Foundations of Wellbeing



Access to Basic Knowledge



Access to Information and Communications



Health and Wellness



Ecosystem Sustainability



Dimension – Opportunities



Personal Rights



Personal Freedom and Choice



Tolerance and Inclusion



Access to Advanced Education




“It is still a great challenge to measure the social situation of the Amazon. The data is updated infrequently, there are limitations in the geographic scope of some indicators and, until recently, social performance was only measured by indexes that were strongly influenced by the economy” said Adalberto Veríssimo, of Imazon, one of those responsible for the unprecedented survey. With creation of the SPI in 2013, it became possible, according to Veríssimo, to evaluate the social progress of the region considering only social and environmental indicators that are really important for peoples' quality of life. “Social progress as measured by the SPI reveals that the region is below the Brazilian average, which is incompatible with its environmental importance,” he emphasizes.

The set of information is accessible on the internet (see the addresses at the end of this text in “General information”), through a platform that allows one to break down and analyze the study data. “This makes strategic use of this information for public and private sector decision-making feasible, in the sense of looking for solutions to improve the social and environmental indicators in the Brazilian Amazon. With this expectation, the Progresso Social Brasil network highlights this agenda in its interaction with governments, companies and social organizations,” says Glaucia Barros, program director of the Avina Foundation.

According to the Public Sector leader for Deloitte Brazil, Eduardo de Oliveira, experiences such as the IPS Amazon are important to make more effective joint actions between government and private companies. "Study projects like this one are essential for public sector leaders and business agents to understand more deeply the challenges of regions, such as the Amazon, that still represent great boundaries of socio-economic development, and new business opportunities as well. Today we live an era in which there is no longer any contradiction between social progress and prospect for business – these are actually facets of the same reality, a more integrated world, which needs qualified information to enable us to advance in all dimensions", Eduardo de Oliveira says.

Results by groups of municipalities

To show the behavior of social progress in a region such as the Amazon, responsible for a third of the tropical forests in the world and encompassing the largest hydrographic basin on the planet, five groups were created to combine municipalities with similar characteristics in the Amazon SPI:

  • Group 1 (average SPI – 65.9): 87 municipalities with the best results in the region, totaling 390 thousand km2 and 9.4 million inhabitants (8% of the region’s territory and 39% of its population). It accounts for more than half of the Amazon’s GDP and includes all the capitals of the states except for Porto Velho (RO).
  • Group 2 (average SPI – 61.13): 200 municipalities that total an area of 1 million km2 and a population of 4.8 million inhabitants (21% of the territory and 20% of the population). It includes Porto Velho and the municipality with the highest per capita income in the Amazon, Campos de Júlio (MT).
  • Group 3 (average SPI – 59.10): 194 municipalities with sharp differences in economic development levels, with annual per capita incomes that range from R$ 1,800 in Barreirinha (AM) to R$ 9,700 in Ipiranga do Norte (MT), confirming that good economic performance does not necessarily ensure social progress.
  • Group 4 (average SPI – 53.59): 204 municipalities totaling 29% of the region’s territory and 20% of its population and accounts for only 9% of the Amazon’s GDP.
  • Group 5 (average SPI – 49.00): 87 municipalities recording the lowest levels of social progress in the Amazon, with 1.7 million inhabitants (7% of the region’s total), accounting for 3% of the Amazon’s GDP.

In general, the results of the Amazon SPI reflect, according to Adalberto Veríssimo, “a development model strongly marked by deforestation, extensive use of natural resources and social conflicts. The continental extension of the region and the precarious local infrastructure impose additional challenges on its social and economic progress.”

General information

The Amazon SPI on a digital platform

More details on the “2014 Amazon SPI,” prepared by Daniel Santos, Danielle Celentano, Jaime Garcia, Antonio Aranibar and Adalberto Veríssimo, are available at and At these addresses, it is possible to see maps and the results of each municipality, in addition to its place in the regional ranking. Depending on its performance in relation to other localities within the same income range, the municipality is assigned a good, neutral or weak result.

The #Progresso Social Brazil network

The #Progesso Social Brasil network is part of an expanding global movement of national social progress networks, whose objective is to bring different sectors of society together, including companies, civil society, philanthropic organizations, government bodies and academia, around the common objective of improving social progress and human wellbeing. Our network counts on the strategic support of the alliance between the Social Progress Imperative, the Avina Foundation and Deloitte. Those interested in joining the network should contact us by email:

Global sponsors of the SPI

Social Progress Imperative (SPI) and the objectives of the Social Progress Index (SPI) have the global support of organizations such as Avina (Fundación), Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte, the Skoll Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

In Press Porter Novelli

Press officer

+55 (11) 3323-1581

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