Distinguished Mr. Mario Garnero, the President of the Forum of the Americas and the United Nations Association in Brazil, as well as the responsible for conceiving this Sustainable Development Forum,
Distinguished representatives from the agencies pertaining to the United Nations system,
Distinguished representatives of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS), partners of this event,
Distinguished political leaders / Distinguished personalities from the financial, entrepreneurial and academic world,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor to participate in this third edition of the Sustainable Development Forum, under the auspices of the Forum of the Americas and the United Nations Association in Brazil, counting also with the support of other relevant public and private entities.
2. This conference has been firmly establishing itself in the global calendar, as it allows for the analysis and reflection on some pressing issues of the international agenda - in an open and frank setting. I am glad to notice once more this year the fortunate choice of the “guiding-theme” (“The New Global Green Economy”) equally current and relevant due to its implications in diversified fields of human, economic and environmental activities.
3. Before starting my speech, may I greet the distinguished presence in the audience of a significant number of Brazilian State Governors and Congressmen who will certainly enhance the discussions with their ideas and experiences. By the way, I recall that in three different occasions I had the privilege of presiding over the “Chamber of Deputies”, the Lower House of the Brazilian Congress, where I can assure you the socioeconomic and environmental issues have deserved their fair amount of attention.
4. For my speech, I was given the subject “Brazil´s Challenges and Perspectives”, having as streamline the broader issue of the global green economy.
5. From the outset, I observe that the challenges Brazil will have to face in the coming years are essentially the same other nations will be confronted with, even though there might be some natural differences on how to cope with one´s respective socioeconomic and environmental context. We should not lose sight of the principle enshrined in the Rio Declaration - at the Rio-92 Conference - regarding “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
6. We must realize that the green debate does not correspond at all to a “zero-sum game”: green economic policies and guidelines promoted by developing countries ought not to be seen as adversarial or opposing to those of developed countries – and vice-versa.
7. Above all, rich and developing countries alike, we can and should work together on behalf of a better world for future generations, be it through the advancement of efforts in the fight against starvation and misery, be it through worldwide dissemination of more sustainable consumption and production patterns, insofar as both aspects are intertwined.
8. In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, in which socio-environmental disorders and financial crises surpass boundaries, there is no alternative other than facing these challenges in a coordinated and consensual way – as consensually as possible. After all, the spectrum of climate threats or the depletion of natural resources strikes us all. Even nations who are apparently more endowed to manage different crises may see themselves suddenly affected by the dissipation of other countries´ vulnerabilities.
9. Having said that, it is key to put into perspective what we are talking about. As you know, Brazil will be responsible for hosting and presiding over the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (or Rio+20) which will take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro during the months of May and June 2012. For Brazil, the green economy debate should not be examined separately from the formulation agreed upon at the United Nations Assembly. In other words, it needs to be analyzed within “the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”. International discussions based on that approach have been steadily moving forward.
10. In its inception, the “green economy” notion may have given some concern that it would somehow replace or dilute the concept of sustainable development, which watches over the balance between the following goals: (i) economic development; (ii) environmental protection; and (iii) the promotion of social well-being. Today such concern may be substituted by the good expectations brought over by green economy opportunities. Green economy should be thus devised as an “operating concept” of sustainable development.
11. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio-92), cherished principles, processes and documents were put into place aimed at reconciling socioeconomic development and environmental conservation. Brazil is proud for having hosted the Rio-92 Conference which strengthened the concept of sustainable development and whose legacy has guided the efforts of our policymakers. As host-country again of the Rio+20 Conference, Brazil will strive for highlighting the complementary and synergetic opportunities that can be drawn from this new debate.
12. The Rio+20 Conference is likely to be one the most significant events in international politics for quite some time. Brazil will endeavor to ensure Rio+20 may reach effective results and correspond to the highest expectations both from a substantive and logistical standpoint.
13. The President of Brazil - Her Excellency Dilma Rousseff – is herself personally engaged to secure Rio+20´s success. Last June, she sanctioned a Presidential Decree which established the “Rio+20 National Commission” as well as its “Executive-Secretariat” currently responsible for carrying out consultations among representatives from the Brazilian government and civil society.
14. The results from those consultations will be evaluated by the aforementioned “Rio+20 National Commission”, allowing the Brazilian government to elaborate its contribution to the United Nations Secretariat to be sent next November. Through this kind of measure, Brazil is determined to guarantee an inclusive and transparent process along the elaboration of proposals.
15. Brazil will host Rio+20 because we believe that it is through multilateralism that we will be able to engage the whole international community in devising solutions to our dire global problems, which still prevent us from reaching full sustainable development. I am convinced that Brazil is well placed to facilitate the search for consensus, since it still has traits belonging to a developing country, whereas it does excel in key-areas of the world economy.
16. Brazil aspires to confer equal weight to the three pillars of sustainable development concerning the outcomes of Rio+20, by means of balancing out its environmental, social and economic dimensions. The basis of such exercise should hence lead us to the reaffirmation of sustainable development as an integrating concept apt to reconcile environmental concerns with social needs and economic feasibility.
Ladies and gentlemen,
17. It is fair to say there are already a few good examples of successful experiences in the areas of sustainable consumption, housing, sewerage and sanitation, energy efficiency, sustainable cities and so forth. Indeed, additional research and solutions are needed, but we should to put into practice what already exists. A great deal of technologies required for sustainable development is available to us right now. What we might lack is to further disseminate those experiences and give them scale. It is necessary to grant developing countries due access to such green technologies.
18. In the framework of a sustainable green economy program, a feasible “byproduct” of Rio+20 could be the creation of its own modalities of disseminating good practices through, for instance, a repertory of ideas and initiatives that have yielded actual results. All this cautioned by the understanding that what is considered “best practices” by some countries might not be so by others.
19. Concerning green economy, Brazil sustains that it be seen as a set of options for sustainable policies, including activities and programs which respond to different necessities and realities from both developing and developed countries, with the purpose of accomplishing the broader goal of sustainable development.
20. If the details concerning the notion of “global green economy” are not yet fully clear, at least we know what it should not look like. A green economy should not be considered a luxury item that only developed countries are able to afford.
21. In developing countries, we do see the need to foster suitable conditions that will enable them to embrace green economy without prompting abrupt changes in their productive system nor unexpected economic hardships. For that to happen, developing countries must be allowed to preserve a minimum of “policy space” in order to promote public policies that will not only induce development but also reorient certain sectors to keep up their process of wealth distribution.
22. In light of all these elements, it is necessary to reinforce the link between the concepts of green economy and sustainable development. The goal is to avoid misreading the whole notion of green economy that might be seen as some sort of privileging the trade of advanced technological solutions over the search of solutions adaptable to the various realities of developing countries. Accordingly, green economy should be an “instrument for mobilizing” sustainable development.
23. The link between green economy and sustainable development should be further reinforced if we could explore the notion of “inclusive green economy”, by bringing to the forefront of the debate the social aspects and by highlighting one of Rio+20´s themes, which is – let me remind you – “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
24. The overall theme of this conference is the so-called “new” green economy. But I wonder if it is all that new. In my view, it has mostly to do with a process under continuous progress and mutation, being hard to precise the very beginning of this apparently “new” green phenomenon. Likewise, it is impossible to determine the starting point of the globalization process. The reason I mention this is to avoid tracing exceedingly ambitious and unrealistic goals, leading us to hasty temporal ruptures or to the “mandatory” adoption by developing countries of a whole “new” technological apparatus, which might reveal itself incompatible with their absorption capacity for a period of time.
25. In that respect, I believe that the “new” and the “not-so-new” green economies should be able to coexist for a while, so as to give room to the required adjustments that will be needed in adapting different economies to modern green production methods.
26. In practical terms, among other aspects, all this translates into attaining sustainable growth through actions that privilege low carbon emissions and the reduction of fossil fuels, along with improving energy efficiency, revenue generation and employability in new sectors.
27. But the so yearned revenue and job creation in new green sectors will only reach the whole of society if we are able to evenly share the advantages they are supposed to bring along. For that to occur, it is pivotal to encourage mechanisms of international cooperation geared towards effective technical assistance, technology transfer, capacity building and up-to-date training.
28. As expressed by a number of developing countries authorities, we should be cautious not to face a scenario in which “green” would prevail over “economy”. Such hypothesis if stretched could degenerate into tendencies that would justify (i) unfair trade barriers or even (ii) the imposition of “outward-inward” conditionalities for development financing, without taking into account domestic priorities from recipient countries, notably those from the least developed nations. Moreover, green economy should never oblivious to the social pillar enshrined in the concept of sustainable development.
29. We should also avoid making up superfluous needs or groundless environmental parameters regarding the operation of legitimate and profitable economic activities conducted by populations in the developing world, who still struggle to adjust to a new technological paradigm. Nor should green economy limit itself to the mere marketing of products from companies from the developed world or from a select group of emerging countries.
30. Hence the importance of disseminating accessible green technologies, which may allow for investments on a realistic basis and conforming to the public financing capacity of developing countries, especially the poorest ones.
31. After all, a “global green economy” worth that name should not result in freezing comparative advantages worldwide. If developing countries continue to produce what they had been previously doing – remaining the sole recipients of finished technologies provided by the rich nations – that will only increase the gap between both of them. That kind of circumstance would unveil itself counterproductive for all parties involved in the medium and long run, as it would aggravate inequalities and the shortcomings issued from such disparities.
32. On the other hand, it is a misconception to think that vigorous economic growth on the part of developing countries - through access to green technologies - would somehow constitute a threat to rich countries. Quite the opposite, I would say: the more developing countries are able to achieve successful insertion in the global economy, the more opportunities rich nations will have to invest through their companies and services.
33. Efforts towards liberalizing “environmental goods” should occur in a gradual and flexible way, in order not to staunch the flourishing of latent green industries in its inception and so as not to prevent newcomers from entering the green market. The emergence of new actors capable of producing environmental goods will stimulate healthy competition on a global scale and make green industries less concentrated in the hands of a few.
34. Promoting a widespread green economy program implies dealing with the induction and creation of markets both domestically and in the international level.
35. International cooperation is thus essential in this process of virtuously inducing a global green economy. International cooperation should consider the fact that green technologies ought to adapt to local conditions. Only by observing locally defined environmental, economic and social priorities can we assure the necessary “perception of ownership” by local communities in the face of green initiatives – a fundamental step to ensure lasting success and transformation in developing countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
36. After these remarks of a conceptual and perhaps philosophical nature about the challenges and prerequisites to make possible a “globally inclusive green economy”, let me pass on to concrete examples as to what Brazil has been doing on the subject. I will present the Brazilian perspective based on some of themes belonging to the subsequent panels.
37. In fact, I praise that the panels which follow my speech will tackle various aspects of the green economy debate, allowing for a multidimensional analysis that move us forward in understanding such a complex topic. So let me go step by step.
38. Considering that green economy cannot be dissociated from poverty eradication – on the account of the theme proposed for Rio+20 -, let me refer to some measures taken by us in that domain.
39. In the past few years, Brazil was able to withdraw 28 million citizens out of poverty, but there are still 16,2 million Brazilians living in a situation of extreme poverty. For that reason, the Brazilian Federal Government launched this year the “Plan Brazil without Extreme Poverty”, which improves and amplifies the country´s experience in the social area. According to reliable statistics, poverty in Brazil decreased by 51,9% between 2002 and 2009.
40. Regarding innovative financial mechanisms – object of the speech to be delivered by UNITAID´s President Douste-Blazy to whom I extend my greetings – Brazil has been engaged in those international initiatives since the very beginning, with full-fledged commitment to ensure the feasibility of “long-term”, “substantial”, “predictable”, “sustainable” and “additional” resources.
41. As you must be aware of, UNITAID – an international facility for the purchase of drugs against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – is financed out of different sources, one of which is the solidarity contribution on airplane tickets. In the Brazilian case, as of the Law 12.413 enacted on May 31st this year, the Brazilian Executive branch has become authorized to make donations to UNITAID - for an undetermined period of time - to the extent of 02 (two) US dollars per passenger which embarks in a commercial flight in Brazil with destination to a foreign country.
42. In another sphere, Brazil – along with India and South Africa – has conceived an international fund (the IBSA Fund) to support developing projects in third countries, which has bore fruits for a while now. In consequence of our sanitation project in Haiti, the IBSA Fund was able to receive a prestigious international award, in 2006.
43. I must admit it is no easy task convincing segments of my country´s public opinion on why Brazil is willing to help third countries, when part of the Brazilian population still suffers scarcity in some social areas. Yet it is a persuasion venture worth doing it, for the sake of diffusing the conscience that by helping the neediest we are actually helping ourselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
44. The driving force behind each and every economy is its sources of energy and the ways to effectively use them. Needless to say, such reasoning applies to the green economy as well.
45. Brazil is proud to bestow one of cleanest energy complexes. The proportion of renewable energy in our energy matrix amounts to 45.4%.
46. In Brazil and elsewhere, solutions to energy challenges cannot be limited to a reduced set of options. There is no single solution to energy problems. Addressing the issue calls for the exploration of an energy mix.
47. Even as far as oil industry is concerned, evidently it can also be explored in a more sustainable way. I can assure you that the discovery of sizeable oil reserves in Brazil in the last few years shall not mislead us to some sort of “indolence” or “alienation” facing our steadfast commitment in search of green solutions.
48. PETROBRAS, for instance, has shown how a major company in the sector is able to explore oil in compliance with environmental and social standards. By enhancing its green efficiency activities, PETROBRAS has improved the rationalization in the use of water and energy. It has also decreased the output of chemical residues and carbon emissions.
49. Another promising energy field is that of bio-fuels, in which Brazil and the United States have been closely cooperating. The production of bio-fuels is not only compatible with the production of food, but it can often serve as a means to increase food production and provide for food security.
50. The Brazilian experience is living proof that countries with similar potential to produce bio-fuels do not have to make a choice between food production and bio-fuels. Those countries just need - as did Brazil - to properly plan their agricultural production bearing in mind their specific economic, social and environmental conditions and applying appropriate techniques and raw materials.
51. Likewise, the Brazilian government has been promoting inter-ministerial discussions involving the private initiative about prospects of bio-fuel production for aviation. The purpose of such initiative is clear: to develop bio-fuels for aviation with similar levels of safety and cost as those found in oil fuels.
52. In Brazil, research centers committed to excellence have been developing technologies – some of which patented – so as to obtain bio-kerosene with high degree of purity. Brazil has conditions to become one of the leading export centers in bio-kerosene. By redirecting some of our sugar-cane industrial plants, it would be feasible to produce approximately 05 (five) billion liters of bio-kerosene, largely exceeding our annual domestic consumption.
53. A successful green economy is also unconceivable without efforts to lower emission of greenhouse gases. Brazil has demonstrated by its actions the importance it attaches to the proper handling of climate change. Example of that was the passing, in December 2009, of our “National Policy on Climate Change” (or PNMC, in its Portuguese acronym).
54. The Brazilian voluntary goal is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases between 36.1% and 38.9% in relation to what Brazil would normally produce in 2020 if no mitigation action were to be taken.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
55. Another instigating topic to be discussed here is about the Amazon region. I can assure you that my country has put forth efforts to treat the Brazilian Amazon region in both an indivisible and coordinated way. In an indivisible way because we attempt to manage the forest without disregarding the human and economic dimensions, watching over the three-faced aspects of sustainable development to be present in public policies. In a coordinated manner because we do try to involve different institutions from the Federal, State and Municipal levels, coupled with active participation by civil society.
56. Brazil has devised and implemented several plans with focus on sustainable development, deforestation reduction and mitigation of greenhouse emissions with impact on forest management, with the purpose of diminishing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by 80% until 2020. The Brazilian Government has been monitoring the Amazonian vegetation coverage by means of satellites commanded by the National Institute for Spatial Research (INPE), which counts with distinct operational systems.
57. Moreover, Brazil - whose energy matrix is largely composed of hydroelectricity – has been improving a recent technique known in Portuguese as “usina-plataforma”. It is a method developed by the State-owned electric company ELETROBRÁS for the construction and operation of hydroelectric power plants, aiming at reducing their environmental impact. This state-of-the-art technique is supposed to be applied in the near future in the construction of the “Tapajós Complex”, located at the state of Pará in the Amazon region. Among the method´s innovative characteristics, we could mention (i) “surgical clearing of trees”, with minimal intervention on nature, and (ii) “radical reforestation” - a strategy to recover most of the vegetation surrounding the construction locus.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
58. In view of the permanent challenge to consolidate a global green economy, the Brazilian industry has well been doing its part - always counting with the support of the Brazilian government.
59. In the area of transportation, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) in association with an urban bus company in São Paulo and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), among other partners, have been carrying out the following green project: the building of efficient buses run by hydrogen combustible cell – an effort which represents a turning point towards the expansion of cleaner solutions in urban public transportation in Brazil.
60. But that is not all. In Brazil, several companies have been investing in the research and development of bio-plastics. Bio-plastics do not depend on petroleum for its production, but on vegetable raw materials such as sugar cane. Furthermore, they can be biodegradable, renewable and recyclable. In September 2010, one of the world´s largest industrial plants of ethanol and its byproducts was inaugurated in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Fair estimates indicate that the evolution of the bio-plastic market in Brazil may generate a demand up to 1.5 billion liters of ethanol per year and 18 thousand new jobs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
61. Our subject is indeed fascinating and I could go on for hours. Yet I prefer to leave to the experts the discussion and analysis of its multiple dimensions. I do wish you dynamic and productive work during this forum.
62. In conclusion, I assess that the implementation of a true “globally inclusive green economy” shall require the increase of international cooperation focused on rebalancing asymmetries in terms of know-how and resources. That entails conducting effective initiatives in the areas of technology transfer, technology absorption, capacity building and technical assistance deprived of conditionalities. Developed and emerging nations alike, such as Brazil, must give the example and demonstrate, in practical terms, the virtues of a green economy to everyone´s benefit and advantage, so that less developed countries may be able to cast away their suspicions and embark fearlessly in the transition to another social-economic-environmental model.
63. What is at stake is not only our engagement in the preservation of the environment or in the mitigation of climate change factors. In keeping with those noble objectives, we must do everything in our power to ensure the socio-economic gains that shall emanate from an equitable access to knowledge, technologies, goods and production processes. These in turn will make feasible the transition to a sustainable, efficient and, above all, inclusive green economy.
Thank you very much.