This commentary examines the challenge of sustainable development in the Amazon, arguing that global efforts to mitigate climate change and current Amazonian policies are clearly inadequate to prevent global warming and deforestation from tipping the forest into a savanna. It analyses the growing climate pressures jeopardising the Amazon's resilience; the erratic Brazilian, Bolivian, Colombian, Ecuadorian and Peruvian governance of the forest; and the failure of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) to establish long-term forest conservation policies in the region. The research demonstrates that the ‘savannisation hypothesis’ is potentially closer to reality than most debates in the social sciences assume and should be considered seriously. The commentary concludes by suggesting possible pathways for preventing the dieback of the Amazon. These are based on three strategic axes: the strengthening of the ACTO, the promotion of a technological revolution in the forest, and a progressive environmental diplomacy by the Amazonian countries.