Welcome You All in Brazil…
For the second time Brazil will be the focus of the world’s attention in the discussions about a more sustainable economic development. The young trackers have just arrived in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where the summit and over 500 parallel events will take place. As the unique Brazilian in the team, it is my duty to take my first post here to welcome you all and wish us a great and fruitful work. Despite all unhappy expectations with regards to high level talks, you will follow our daily tracking and reporting and then witness that there are a lot of people carrying out actions towards a greener world based on social and environmental justice.
It might even seem a lost cause, but as long as there are organisations, movements, and moreover, people, struggling for change, there will be hope and, therefore, reason for what to fight for. I would like to invite you all to remain with us and stay tuned – remembering you can also be a tracker, by giving us thoughts on what you country will do here in Brazil; is your government committed? What is your evaluation? Would you want to be part of this change?
Do not hesitate in gathering your group, raise awareness and promote some local actions to pressurize your government.
The Brazil that’s hosting Rio+20
Well, just to start with something I would like to highlight a bit of the context of the country hosting the Earth Summit. Today, Brazil is in a position that demands extreme changes. Being the sixth largest global economy and the richest in biodiversity and water resources, the country occupies an important political position on the international scene.
Despite being regarded by many experts as an environmental power, the country is one of the most polluting. Reports evidence it is one of the few countries with sufficient natural resources to ensure its population a decent quality of life alongside economic and social development. However, approximately 70% of its emissions are linked to deforestation, burning and changes in land use. I would also add it is one of the countries with the most operational facilities for change. It has one of the least polluting energy matrixes, mainly due to the generation of electricity through hydroelectric plants, but these are responsible for serious human rights violations. This is the case of Belo Monte, in Pará, which has already begun construction and which is expelling, with the government’s endorsement, indigenous people and riverside dwellers from their lands. The dam will cost the public coffers billions of dollars, will not be adequately efficient (due to the river flow), will not resolve the energy situation – and, judging by the country’s history, we do not even know whether it will ever be finished.
Another serious failing of the Brazilian government is its passive attitude and lack of commitment to forest preservation. Despite having vetoed twelve points of the Forest Code Bill proposed by the Congress, President Dilma Rousseff left much to be desired in her judgement, giving amnesty to deforesters and leaving room for new environmental crimes. The alterations (or lack of) allow the reduction of Permanent Protection Areas. The document proposed by the president will also give consent for areas to be restored with non-native species, such as, for example, in the planting of eucalyptus in locations previously occupied by
Atlantic Rainforest. The environmentalists’ mobilizations and strong opposition to this point have led the government to retreat and revise this particular passage, which is only effective in areas of up to four fiscal modules (a fiscal module is a land unit that varies from 50 to 100 hectares, depending on region and municipality).
Hundreds of thousands of Brazilian militants, organisations, scientists, personalities and intellectuals were mobilised for the proposals’ total veto; 2 million signatures were collected and an enormous mobilization took place across the country – as well as abroad. But this was not enough to encourage the government to provide a total veto. Now, discussions will only continue after Rio+20 and, in the meantime, nothing is very certain.
A number of international organisations, and organised civil society itself, have accused the Brazilian Government of overloading the Summit agenda. The country will is going to Rio+20 with a bold proposal to reduce poverty through the social mechanisms inspired by the experiences of the Lula Government’s income distribution programmes. In doing so, it trivialize the meeting’s agenda and discussions about important issues that are still far from being resolved. The country is supported by members of the so-called BRICS, a group made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, countries which have similar ideas about their development and the use of natural resources.
This is the scenario in a country which, after 20 years, will receive one of the largest meetings of world leaders in history – a generation meeting, as it stands on my registration e-mail I just received from UN – and this should be a time to assess progress and agree new proposals for an economic model that takes into consideration the rational use of natural resources. With Brazil’s clear lack of leadership and the absence of the most important political representations, such as the leaders of the USA, Germany and the United Kingdom, there is many evidences that the meeting may fail. President Dilma has not endeavoured to ensure that discussions are centred on effective changes and legal commitments for the realization of a fair and egalitarian future.
Between 15th and 23rd June, civil society will get organised to discuss proposals and pressurize the government to move more swiftly and effectively towards social and environmental justice. The People’s Summit, like the 1992 Global Forum, will bring together NGOs and movements for the struggle for rights from around the world. Thousands of people will participate in workshops and assemblies in order to influence the official UN meeting, between 20th and 22nd June.
Rio+20 is already upon us and it is time for world leaders to assume a central role, at the same time they assure the defense of the rights of their populations, particularly those most under threat; ensure biodiversity protection; and promote practises to save our future.
About the authorDiêgo Lôbo
Giving the perspective of a young brazilian following Rio+20 talks is the goal of this environmental blogger, PR and amateur writer.