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The Green Economy movements in Brazil
Brazil has a long history dealing with environmental and social challenges, and also a broad set of plans and activities regarding development. The connection between those, however, has been neither a priority nor effective throughout the years, especially when it comes to public policies and incentives for economic growth.
However, for a number of reasons the country’s current situation provides it with very positive prospects for the emerging paradigm of a Green Economy. Some of the most significant examples of opportunities for Brazil: l An energy matrix predominantly based on renewable sources, such as ethanol and hydro (although mostly in big power plants, with significant impacts in rivers, populations, etc). l A highly developed technology to use sugar cane and other biomass, not only for ethanol and sugar, but also for plastics and co-generation of electricity, lowering dependency on oil. l Brazil has a much bigger biological capacity than its ecological footprint, due mainly to the country’s size, climate and natural resources, combined with a relatively small population, with low demographic growth rates. l Natural assets such as the biggest rainforest in the world, extremely rich biodiversity and environmental services/ goods, combined with huge water reserves, as well as an extensive coastal line, providing for fishery and tourism. l A highly urbanised population, with access to communications and information, and increasing educational level (although this still one of the country’s biggest challenges). As the world turns its attention to the urgent need to shift to a more sustainable and socially inclusive economy, Brazilian actors in many different areas are also waking up to the strategic benefits it could bring to the country in the near future. This has led to a growing receptiveness for GE discussions and proposals, started in different areas and under different names. In this context the Green Economy Coalition national dialogues initiative appears as a very timely catalytic process, able to gather together a number of different actors and sectors.
The Green Economy Coalition National Dialogues in Brazil
Starting in mid 2010, as part of the GEC global initiative, the Brazilian National Dialogue on GE has been configured as two year process aiming towards a three-pronged strategy: a) mobilising/raising awareness about GE in the most relevant social and economical actors; b) establishing networks and intellectual capital to influence public policies and mainstream decision makers; and c) helping to shape the inputs to and outcomes from the UNCSD 2012 (Rio+20), both through the Brazilian official contributions, direct participation in the preparatory process, and through indirect influence, sharing knowledge and proposals with other global/international actors. The process to fulfill the objectives above is organised in a sequence, represented by the following diagram:
Results so far
At the present moment (March, 2011), the Brazilian GE National Dialogue is entering its second phase, building on the support of a very relevant audience, well articulated with the other main movements in the country aiming to Rio+20, and with strong plans to become an active participant in the official Brazilian preparatory process to UNCSD 2012. In addition, the process of building the Brazilian Essential Agenda for the Green Economy is up and running, based on the results of the first phase of the initiative: the Brazilian Green Economy Framework (BGEF) and an active network of participants and supporters. The BGEF comprises six topics: terminology, general concept, principles/practical concepts, perspectives, themes and priorities. Together, these topics will be used to frame and assess the concrete proposals to be developed/ identified at regional and thematic seminars, providing some level of consistency and coherence in the outputs from these semi-autonomous discussions. Results will provide material to be developed at the 2nd National Seminar on Green Economy, which will distill the Brazilian GE Essential Agenda, featuring a relatively small number of key measures needed to foster GE in Brazil, firmly anchored in the broad discussions held throughout the process. This Essential Agenda is intended to provide the basis for advocacy by many different sectors, since it should focus on very relevant enablers and promoters of the transition to GE in Brazil, with immediate applicability. The general concept presented in the BGEF is as follows: “A ‘Green Economy’ is an Economy which results in improved human well-being and social equity, while creating value for Nature, significantly reducing social/environmental risks and impacts, and demand for ecosystems and scarce social resources. A GE is characterised by focusing investments in activities that,
aiming at such results, use and make the most of natural, social and human capitals, taking into account in its decisions the limits of the planet and the sustainable interests of society.”
3 To avoid privileging “development” based on economic growth at any cost, anchored in big infrastructure investments and massive consumption, rather than innovative strategies to “leapfrog the 20th century”, which should receive support. At the same time, to strengthen the institutional framework and public policies aligned with sustainability, which are still seen as too fragile and poorly articulated. 4 To promote alternatives to consumerism and the consumer society, by fostering the Sustainable Consumption and Production Plan (part of the Marrakech Process), as well as by privileging education and cultural and social initiatives reframing the broad societal aspirations and understanding of what constitutes a “good life”. 5 To use existing economic instruments (and to develop new ones as appropriate), so as to provide incentives to move towards GE and to dis-incentivise activities that will move the country in the opposite direction. This may include taxation policies, financing and investment mechanisms, “green” public procurement, valuation of public goods and assets, and charging for externalities. 6 To promote the quick and appropriate adoption of the recently approved National Policy for Solid Wastes. To fight against weakening the National Forestry Code. 7 To promote the creation of mechanisms to generate payments for environmental services, recognition of the importance of natural and protected areas, for example through tourism, sustainable use of natural areas, and valuing of biodiversity assets. 8 To foster the transition to a GE will require not only economic mechanisms, but also investment in strengthening society through education, promotion of transparency, citizenship and participation, civil society organisation, and a range of other means. 9 To protect grassroots producers and create employment
Other aspects of the BGEF include the following:
l A GE shall be understood as providing not only for the environment, but also for social well-being, sustainable economic prosperity and personal happiness and fulfillment. l GE provides a means to bridge sustainability values and concerns into mainstream economic decision making. l Livelihoods and businesses can be seen as mechanisms contributing towards a GE, insofar as they steer economic activities to more sustainable patterns and performance. The process also identified that there is high optimism and few negative reactions and suspicions about GE. Nevertheless, some concerns were voiced regarding the risk of GE being misused to generate commercial barriers or means to weaken Brazil and other developing countries’ competitiveness. The conclusion reached through the national dialogue to date, though, is that this shouldn’t preclude support for GE, so long as due care is taken to avoid such risks. 10 priority areas towards GE have been identified, framing opportunities and enablers, and also risks and obstacles for the fast transition to a GE: 1 To seize the opportunity of Rio+20 to leverage the GE debates in Brazil and inspire global action. 2 To adopt sustainable ‘green’ strategies to reduce social inequality, currently fostered by an economic system which leads to accumulation and concentration of wealth. To protect employment, livelihoods and working conditions in the transition to a GE.
and wealth, by providing technical and institutional support to traditional communities, small farmers, entrepreneurs and others. Although financial and market mechanisms can and should be used as tools to generate compensation for those kinds of goods and services, this shouldn’t reduce them to merely commodities. For instance, paying for the services provided by a forest doesn’t mean that the forest itself should be bought and sold as if it were just merchandise. 10 To denounce and prevent any misuse or misrepresentation of the Green Economy and related concepts/practices, avoiding the erosion of the proposals they represent, as well as the growth of skepticism in society.
The Green Economy Coalition
The Green Economy Coalition (GEC) brings together environment, development, trade union, consumer and business sectors, North and South. The GEC is committed to a common cause: accelerating a transition to a new green inclusive economy. The Coalition fosters a common understanding of green economy themes, and promotes learning, creativity and innovation across sectors. With its global and local reach and credibility in environmental, social, business and economic spheres, the Coalition is placed to: l improve communication between stakeholders and among green economy initiatives l forge a coherent new development vision that works for all l encourage that best practice is scaled up l promote ways of halting bad practice l encourage innovation that explores prosperity within planetary boundaries l influence key decision makers.
The Brazilian GE National Dialogue will organise a number of regional, thematic and other focused consultations between April and September, so as to realise its 2nd National Seminar and publication of the Brazilian GE Essential Agenda in October. This will allow it to become a significant input to the 2nd Intersessional meeting of the UN official preparatory process to UNCSD 2012. The Brazilian NDs methodology and results are available to everyone planning to contribute to the transition to a green economy. We are happy to share them and provide further information and answers. For more information contact Aron Belinky, International Processes Coordinator, Vitae Civilis Institute - Brazil: email@example.com
Vision of the Coalition
A resilient economy that provides a better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of one planet.
Aims of the Coalition
l to mobilise and build a global coalition of organisations from different sectors for a green and inclusive economy l to provide a platform for debate on green economy issues ensuring that multi-sector perspectives and voices from the South are integrated into discussions l to organise and share knowledge on the green economy l to identify priority issues and strategic opportunities to influence the transition to a green economy l to help build consensus on priority issues, and to jointly communicate policy messages to key audiences and in strategic forums.
The GEC is supported by a secretariat hosted and Environment by IIED in London. For Developmentthe further information on GEC please contact: oliver.greenfield@ greeneconomycoalition.org firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com IIED, 4 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H 0DD, UK www.greeneconomycoalition.org
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