A new report released yesterday finds that, thanks to new investments in infrastructure and rapid technological innovation, it is possible to tackle climate change while at the same time improving economic performance. Challenging conventional wisdom, the report refutes the notion that countries must choose between fighting climate change and growing their economies.
Reinventing development will need imagination – a bigger and freer imagination - to transform our aspirations, to reinvent our countries and especially our urban future. Development as usual–growth at any cost, polluted cities and over-exploitation of key resources—hurts people and compromises our ability to prosper in the long term. And shouldn’t development be the means to a better life for the great majority of people?
We are entering the urban and more southern century - by 2050 most people around the world will live in cities. And most of these people will live in developing countries. The mix of pressing demographics and development as usual do not add up to a promising future. There is no such thing as a collective prosperity in countries running on dirty energy, polluted water and toxic air. An alternative course is possible –through cleaner and safer pathways-- if we abandon obsolete notions that accept unsustainable development as if it were inescapable. We can afford bigger aspirations, especially as our southern confidence expands almost as fast as the growth of our middle class and business opportunities.
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.