Lost in Rio

Mićo Tatalović

Mićo Tatalović
Deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

It was nobody’s fault that I spent half a day at Rio’s botanical gardens today, searching for a session that was held at a different venue altogether. But it turns out the day wasn’t a complete loss.

20 minutes into my arrival and several helpful Brazilians’ advice later, I found out that I was in fact standing in the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation’s (EMBRAPA) research center . I learned they were doing some – not for profit – research on indigenous agro-ecology, trying to ensure indigenous people in Xingu Indigenous Park in central Brazil, can maintain their livelihoods by boosting their food security in a culturally-sensitive way. “The greatest challenge to agricultural policy in Brazil is to develop actions for research, development and transfer of technology that promote the sustainability of indigenous people and their lands” says EMBRAPA. The project sets up ‘no-catch’ zones and over the last few years has released 30,000 newborn yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles (tracajas), which form a big part of the community’s diet.

But the natural capital accounting event – my original assignment for the day – was calling, and I had to go.

After locating the gardens, the only visible session was one organised by a Brazilian mining company (I won’t name it as they were so keen to keep me out of their precious session), who were giving awards of up to 15,000 Brazilian Reals (around US$8,000) to promising science students, which was really nice to hear. But after an unpleasant encounter with the mining company’s entourage, I figured I was better off wandering around the garden until I received an update of where I was supposed to be for my session.

The garden was lovely – and it would be good if more Rio+20 delegates went and spent some time in nature – travelling around in air-conditioned gas guzzlers, from one high-energy consumption venue to the next, it’s easy to forget what it is they’re here to protect.

By the time I finally arrived at the National School of Tropical Botany, the session on natural capital accounting was well underway. But that didn’t stop me getting an update on our ‘African nations agree to put a price on nature’ feature – check in to our news site in the next two days to learn more.

All-in-all, another fun and educational day in Rio.

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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