Marina Silva was a Senator in Brazil for two consecutives mandates, from 1994 to January 2011. At the start of her second Senate mandate, she was invited by President Lula to become Minister of the Environment (2003-2008).
As a Senator, Marina Silva defended the rights of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, such as indigenous peoples and traditional forest-dependent communities, and fought for improved public policies in support of social inclusion, such as in public health, education and the rights of minorities. In 1995, she prepared the first draft law to regulate access to genetic resources and protect the knowledge of traditional populations concerning their use.
As a Minister, she created a national plan to prevent and control deforestation in the Amazon that resulted in a major revolution in the way public policy for the region was developed and implemented. Her administration was able to significantly increase the number of protected areas and to decrease the annual rate of Amazon deforestation, amongst many other achievements.
Before leaving government and returning to her seat in the Senate, Marina Silva also oversaw the approval of the Law on the Management of Public Forests, which regulates the utilization of Brazilian public forest lands and establishes the Brazilian Forest Service and the National Forest Development Fund.
Marina Silva holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching History from the Federal University of Acre. She has won many awards, the majority granted during or shortly after her tenure as Minister of Environment. They represent recognition that, whilst occupying high public office she retained the same commitments that have characterized her public life ever since first becoming involved in the struggle to protect the forests of Acre alongside Chico Mendes.