Sustainable development has been peripheral to Brazilian elections, yet this election could mark a turning point. Street protests in 2013 sent a clear message to politicians: people want to debate Brazil’s future in the 2014 election, but so far politicians have reduced the election to a debate around personalities and power. In the run up to the October election we have a chance to show that sustainable development is not merely a debate among elites but an essential issue for Brazil’s struggle for citizen rights and equality. The task this year is to connect the dots between the environment, development and citizen rights thus making sustainable development a key electoral theme in 2014. Could the street protests and new political coalitions help promote sustainable development as a campaign issue? We argue that the political situation in Brazil may create a rare opportunity to do so for the first time since the return of democracy in the mid 1980s. Here we explain why.