Home to 40 percent of the planet’s species, Latin America has a rich ecosystem—but it also has a huge problem. Regions of Latin American and the Caribbean saw a 94 percent drop in biodiversity from 1970-2016, according to the most recent data from World Wildlife Fund. Recognizing the toll its business takes on the environment, e-commerce giant Mercado Libre—the so-called Amazon of Latin America—is launching Regenera América to help protect and restore key biomes in Latin America that contain more than a quarter of the Earth’s biodiversity and 50,000 animal species.
The company is tapping proceeds from its US$400 million sustainability bond to fund the megaproject, with two tech-fueled reforestation pushes at the center. One will focus on the Mantiqueira mountain range region that spreads through Brazil’s southeast. Created in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the initiative is focused on restoring more than 6,672 acres (2,700 hectares) of forests, with the potential to sequester 640,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 25 years. There’s also an environmental justice angle: Developers are exploring how to give landholders and Indigenous communities in the region economic credit for restoration activities, like planting cocoa trees.
The second part was designed by Ecological Research Institute and is slated to create biological corridors among remnants of virgin forest, regenerating 741 acres (300 hectares) by planting 1 million trees. The potential ROI? Sequestering 110,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 25 years.
To ensure the project delivers, Mercado Libre announced it’s collaborating with Pachama, a climate-tech company that harnesses AI to drive carbon capture and protect global forests. By tapping into Pachama’s innovative imaging system, the team can monitor progress through its network of satellites and artificial intelligence technologies in real time. The partnership not only lets Mercado Libre see how its efforts impact the region’s restoration—but also allows it to shift gears as necessary.
Regenera América also includes commitments from Mercado Libre to measure and report the company’s total emissions, buy clean energy for its operations, and electrify the fleet used by the company and its last-mile and logistics partners.
“We are propelled forward by the drive to transform,” Pedro Arnt, executive vice president and CFO of Mercado Libre, Buenos Aires, Argentina, said in a statement. “The growth of our platform increasingly demands that we contribute to the societies in which we operate, to be efficient in our energy consumption, to move towards increasingly cleaner transportation, and to come up with innovating strategies to mitigate our social and environmental impacts throughout the entire value chain.”