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LN – Marina Silva: “Environmental protection is not a right or left flag”


Marina Silva, the environmental reference and former candidate for president of Brazil, visited Argentina in the framework of Encuentro B, held in Mendoza, and talked about the Amazon and the need to find a new sustainable and equitable model. Credit: Marcelo Aguilar

While trying to control fires in the Amazon, in Mendoza voices were raised asking for awareness and achieve a change for the good of the planet and future generations. With a soft and slow but forceful speech, the main speaker was Marina Silva, Brazilian political leader, environmentalist and pedagogue who is clear that there is only one way out and that implies commitment and ethics. He also strongly questioned the actions of the president of his country, Jair Bolsonaro: “It is weakening the control bodies and does not listen to public opinion,” he said.

Silva went through Cuyana land to participate in the + B Meeting, where world leaders and companies discussed inequality and climate crisis. The environmental reference and former candidate for president of Brazil left strong definitions of the need to act without delay. He highlighted the international challenges in environmental matters, especially for Latin America, and referred to the need to take impact actions to achieve “major transformations”, with the emphasis on a climate change agenda and a new development model.

What is that new model based on?

We must find a transition for a low carbon economy, other than carbon intensive. For that, it is necessary to look for a new model that is sustainable, but not only in the economic aspect, but in the social aspect, with equity. It is an ideal of life, which involves several dimensions: economic, social, cultural and environmental. But to this, we must add the ethical, political and aesthetic point of view. Today, the wrong things we are doing are not due to lack of technique but because of lack of ethics. We have technical answers for many problems; We already know how to produce energy that does not impact the planet's climate, such as wind and solar, but ethics are lacking.

What do you mean specifically?

To commitment, to a political decision. Governments and companies know the technical answers, but do not act from the ethical and values, so that they do not sacrifice resources for millions of years. Therefore, everything must be done to make it compatible. Many companies have already started looking for a positive impact, from a social, cultural and environmental point of view. Some governments have policies that seek this but it must be done faster and better.

What place does Brazil occupy in this scenario?

It is the worst example. Just Brazil with the United States of Donald Trump have a denial view of the climate crisis. Bolsonaro extinguished the Ministry of Environment; It is weakening environmental bodies, cutting budgets. It has transferred forest services to the Ministry of Agriculture, which has an agenda contrary to the protection of forests, sending several initiatives to the Congress that endorse deforestation and against indigenous peoples.

You grew up in the Amazon, collecting rubber. Today, what do you feel when you see what happens, facing the future?

There is a lack of commitment with future generations, with the balance of the planet and with our own interests, because in the Amazon we are the first harmed. Environmental protection is not a flag of the right or the left, it is of human beings, of people who have a commitment to life, with a development model that is capable of promoting prosperity, strengthening democracy and promoting social equity and cultural diversity

What should the government do to stop this situation?

Ethics and commitment, with tools. For ten years, with a plan in my management we managed to reduce deforestation by 83%, and consequently fires. The problem is in the Government that has no commitment, that does not control. The tools exist: combating illegal practices, territorial planning and support for sustainable productive activities. Bolsonaro is doing exactly the opposite, it is weakening audit institutions. It is encouraging progress on forests, with illegal activities related to wood, livestock and mining. In addition, he wants to lease indigenous lands to business groups.

What happens then with the activity of the villagers?

There is no competitiveness, the activity is very low. For example, the collectors are many and are without government support. They have development possibilities but with a different model. We have more than 17,000,000 hectares in open, abandoned or underutilized areas. If these areas were used with the technology we already have, we could triple the production without the need to advance over the forests. In addition, we have the possibility of tourism, which is a great source of employment and wealth for people. But, unfortunately instead of making investments, with skilled labor and more technological resources, it is preferred to advance on forests, which gives a maximum productivity for eight to 10 years.


Silva grew up in a community of rubber pickers in the Amazon, learned to read and write at age 16 and was able to graduate as a history teacher.
Silva grew up in a community of rubber pickers in the Amazon, learned to read and write at age 16 and was able to graduate as a history teacher. Credit: Marcelo Aguilar

How do you think the situation is now?

The Bolsonaro Government has no interest in controlling the situation. There is no interest in advancing on forest predators. The greatest responsibility to protect Amazonia is from countries that have sovereignty over it, so that we have efficient policies.

And what is the role of the international community, are there delays in acting?

International solidarity is important, but our sovereignty must be respected. For us there is a great responsibility: Brazilians, Bolivians, Peruvians and Ecuadorians must be the main ones interested in protecting the Amazon. Today, there is no commitment from our authorities, while a recent investigation ensures that nine out of 10 Brazilians are in favor of preserving the Amazon.

What happens to the Government regarding this opinion?

What happens is that Bolsonaro does not listen to public opinion. But, he had to send the army to fight the fires. You can not fight the symptoms, but the causes. Therefore, we will present in Congress a proposal to create a special commission to discuss a set of measures: recompose budgets, strengthen control and satellite monitoring bodies.

What is your message for the new generations?

We cannot insist with a model that compromises the balance of the planet and the sustenance of life. The great challenge before the government and the companies is to place ourselves with an non-negotiable position on environmental protection. They must adapt, because natural resources are not infinite; resources of millions of years cannot be destroyed based on a core of a few decades. That is a crime against humanity. With that awareness we have to have long-term policies. Who does not comply will be threatening the future of life, and against the homeland.

Inequity and climate crisis

The Meeting + B, which took place in Mendoza between September 11 and 13, received more than 1200 attendees from different parts of the world under the slogan “Live the Impact”, inspired by different talks given by specialists. World leaders and companies discussed inequality and climate crisis.

Marina Silva, Brazilian politician, ecologist and pedagogue, together with Yolanda Kakabadse, former president of WWF International and member of the B Team, spoke about the role of the State and international organizations in dealing with environmental and exclusion problems. This panel was moderated by Facundo Garretón, Argentine deputy and entrepreneur.

In addition to analyzing the serious fires of the Amazon, Silva referred to the importance of citizens committing: “Society must demand long-term policies. We must create international political communities that do not adhere to particular ideologies.”

In the so-called Encuentro + B there was a space of call to action, where members of the movement proclaimed themselves in front of the Amazon fire. “This disaster can grow a lot, there are more than 500 species dying for our ego. We only come here to ask for your voice,” they said.

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. (tagsToTranslate) Marina Silva: “Environmental protection is not a right or left flag” – LA NACION


Publicado en el diario La Nación