Beach or exhibition on sustainable development?

Luisa Massarani

Luisa Massarani
Latin America regional coordinator, SciDev.Net

Although it is autumn in Brazil, it’s 30 degrees Celsius with blue skies and no clouds. It was a perfect Saturday to go to the beach, the usual Brazilian weekend. But instead of lounging by the sea people spent several hours in line to attend an exhibition on sustainable development!

Around 45,000 people visited the exhibition this Saturday to add to the 110,000 people who had already visited since the 13 June.

Maybe its public success is partly down to its partner the Roberto Marinho Foundation (owned by a powerful family associated with the main TV channel and newspaper), and the involvement of famous people, such as the actress and art curator Bia Lessa, who is general director of the initiative. The exhibition space alone is reason to visit. It is a compelling scaffold-like construction at the Fort of Copacabana, one of the most beautiful places in Rio de Janeiro, with a view of Copacabana beach and the ocean.

The exhibition aims to be for “all members of society … to reflect upon and deepen their understanding of a possible development model that takes into consideration past, present and future impacts, to ensure better living conditions around the planet along with economic growth, social inclusion and respect for the environment”.

But in my view, the reason for its big success is the fact that Brazilians are very concerned about the environment, biodiversity and other issues related to sustainable development. For example, two surveys carried out recently support this point of view.

The website gives a lot of relevant information on the exhibition, including videos of the discussions.

Rio+20 has pushed a boom of exhibitions on sustainable development in the city and you can read more on these here:

CCBB, the Cultural Centre of Brazil Bank, “Amazônia – Ciclos de Modernidade”, on the Amazon.

Museum of Modern Art, “Brasil Cerrado”, a videoexhibit by the artist Siron Franco, on the biome Cerrado, little known but with a high biodiversity.

Museum of Life (my own museum), “Nós do mundo”, on the challenges for reaching a more sustainable world.

This blog post is part of our coverage of Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. To read news and analysis on Science at Rio+20 please visit our website.


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