Brazilian scientists’ hopes and fears about Rio+20

Aisling Irwin

Aisling Irwin
Consultant news editor, SciDev.Net

Wearied by the Rio+20 negativity (or realism, depending on your view) that permeates many of the communities we’re reporting on, I thought I would ask figures from Brazilian science what they felt about the summit. After all Brazil is a feisty, confident nation with a mature body of science under its belt.

My (stastically dubious) conclusion is that two thirds of Brazilian scientists are optimistic about what Rio+20 might achieve. Here’s what they said:

Jacob Palis, president of the Brazilian Academy of Science

Jacob Palis: optimistic about Rio+20 (PUC-Rio+20 Cynthia Salles)

Optimism is somewhat a characteristic of our people. The main reason for optimism is the progress we have been making in science and technology in this country. Also, socially, there has been substantial progress in the alleviation of poverty.

Also, there is the fact that the scientific community is clearly united in its goals

And the dialogue with politicians is there – it’s not always successful, but that is democracy.

Fábio Feldmann, former Federal Deputy & State Secretary of Environment of the State of São Paulo

Fábio Feldmann: Not so optimistic about Rio+20
PUC-Rio+20/Cynthia Salles

I’m not so optimistic because, up to now, there is a lack of leadership – a terrible lack of leadership.

Some moments I feel we are just facing the same discussions we had in Stockholm [UN Conference on the Human Environment] 40 years ago, for example the polarisation between North and South.

It’s a discussion that is not able to take into consideration that we must face the limits of the planet.

Glaucius Oliva, president of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development:

I am an optimist that we will have an agreement on strong goals that may shape national and international policies for the coming years in defining proposals and government investments.

One important aspect is to have an international fund to promote sustainable development worldwide — which of course would include funding for joint research projects between nations that will contribute to finding solutions for problems.

This blog post is part of our Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development blog which takes place 11-15 June 2012. To read news and analysis from the conference please visit our website.


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