Bows and arrows for a computer and an email

December 15, 2011


This blog article has been produced for Eye on Earth Summit 2011 by SciDev.Net Conference Service, which maintains all editorial independence.

In Abu Dhabi  this rich country in the Middle East  Chief Almir Surui stands out from the crowd. With his feathery hat he looks out of place, but his modern laptop and the natural way he moves among people in suits and ties or kandoras and ghutras tells another story.

Chief Almir looks older than his 36 years, maybe because he had to grow up fast: since he was 17 he has been the leader of 1,350 other Amazonian Surui people.

Back in the 1980s, Almir and his people struggled with bows and arrows for their Amazonian territory, in the southwest of Brazil, close to the Bolivian border.  Now they’re doing it with mobile phones and Google apps.

Despite his reservation getting electricity just five years ago, Almir has adapted quickly. Recently, he has found himself visiting countries like Japan, the United States, England and Denmark, as well as Abu Dhabi, where he gave a speech on December 13, at the Eye on Earth Summit.

“I am here because I believe the experience of my people can contribute in some way to building a new model of development that respects the culture of local communities and helps to rethink the economy,” he told SciDev.Net.

At the conference, he talked to business leaders, NGOs and governmental representatives about the Surui people, the significance of forest protection for them and the environmental importance of conserving indigenous reservations.

“We have to take advantage of events like this to think about real solutions for sustainable development. We can’t just discuss, we also have to do something,” he told the audience. This echoed the words of other speakers, including former US president Bill Clinton.

Almir also talked about his tribe’s current project to preserve and conserve the Surui forest territory through the sale of carbon credits.

“I believe that we have to create our future and not wait for it to come to us. That is why we protect our forest for future generations while we also take advantage of it today,” he said in his speech.

“The Surui people are managing the environment in our own way and we want other people around the world to know what we are doing, to contribute with public policies and to help making our planet sustainable.”

Daniela Hirschfield

World Science Forum: how did it do?

November 22, 2011

Yuan Tseh Lee (with microphone): 'this forum has been very successful in many ways' (Credit: Flickr/gedankenstuecke)

The World Science Forum has been held every two years, since 2003, in Budapest, Hungary, but now it will alternate between Hungary and other countries, starting with Brazil in 2013.

Aloizio Mercadante science and technology minister of Brazil, called the forum “one of the most important scientific events in the world”. He announced the theme of the next forum to be ‘Science for Global Development’ and promised regional preparatory meetings ahead of the forum.

Indian science and technology minister, Vilasrao Deshmuk, invited the forum to India in 2017.

Yuan Tseh Lee, president of the International Council for Science (ICSU), said that “forum has been very successful in many ways”. Despite numerous presentations, discussions and different views, he said, “we did come up with some common agreements and common views”.

Alice Abreu, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said this forum was better than the previous one, but still lacked time for discussions. This was also a general feeling among the other participants I talked to.

Zaid Naffa, honorary consul from Jordan, said that line-ups of 5-6 speakers in two hour blocks were not a friendly enough format for the politicians and diplomats, who need shorter presentations and more opportunity to ask questions.

Mićo Tatalović, deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

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