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‘Code of Conscience’ shuts down heavy equipment in threatened Brazilian rainforests


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

September 4, 2019 | 4 min read

The Amazonian rainforest is on fire, and the globe is taking notice of the manmade destruction being done. However, whilst it’s still difficult to stop humans from destroying the forests, a new campaign is helping by using new technology to stop the machines that cause that destruction.

Chief Raoni Metuktire

Chief Raoni Metuktire shows off the Code of Conscience

In collaboration with global NGOs, agency AKQA has launched an open-source software called ‘Code of Conscience’ that restricts the use of heavy-duty vehicles in protected land areas like the Amazon.

Code of Conscience uses open-source mapping data from the United Nations World Database on Protected Areas – updated monthly by NGOs, communities and governments – in conjunction with existing GPS tracking technology that’s installed in construction vehicles, to autonomously restrict deforestation crews from entering protected zones. A small, low-cost chip has been developed to equip the code into older, non-GPS models, and the software is available for free to everyone at

To get the word out about the chip and the movement, chief Raoni Metuktire – the most prominent Native Brazilian leader and a living symbol of the mission to preserve the rainforest and its indigenous culture – was enlisted to speak in a video.

In it, the Kayapó leader makes an impassioned plea to help save the forests, which he calls “the heart”. He states that he wants people to coexist, love and take care of one another, but that the greed for the wood of the forest is getting in the way of that aim, thus, the need for the Code of Conscience chip that turns off the heavy machinery when it enters a protected zone.

He affirmed the urgent need for action in a statement: “May all heavy machine manufacturers and leaders come and see this. So that the tractors operate, but stop when they reach our land, our forest and so it continues to exist. It is for our awareness and for the forest to stand up.”

An invitation comprising the Code of Conscience chip embedded in a wooden sculpture of an endangered animal has been sent to the CEOs of the world’s top-ten construction equipment manufacturers, with a vision for all new machines to leave the factory with Code of Conscience pre-installed.

“The illegal destruction of nature affects everyone, whether through the reduction of biodiversity, violence against communities, degradation of soil, or the heating of our planet,” explained AKQA executive creative director Hugo Veiga. “Code of Conscience now invites heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to become part of the solution to these critical global problems. And it’s clearly economically viable; while it may deter some operators who wish to break environmental laws, it will attract the growing number of responsible organisations who recognise the strategic value in supporting the rainforest amidst an increasingly environmentally conscious world.”

Code of Conscience was developed in partnership with the Raoni Institute, which represents the Kayapó indigenous group and its mission to stop unfettered Amazonian destruction, as well as the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), and the Peabiru Institute which promotes social diversity throughout the region. The ambition is for Code of Conscience to become federal law and spread to other areas.

Code of Conscience by AKQA

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