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Ten Facts Brazil’s President Should Tell the World Including GDP Doesn’t Equal Progress

Brazil president Dilma Rousseff In a debate at the University of Brasília, Ambassador Correa do Lago asked for ten suggestions for the speech that President Dilma will make at the opening of Rio+20. My suggestions were the following:

1. The speech should begin with the sentence “Humanity is at risk.” The environmental and financial crises demonstrate that the industrial civilization’s union among Political Democracy, Social Justice, Economic Growth and the Techno-Scientific Advance is fraying.

During the Cold War, forces existed that attempted to halt the foolish march towards nuclear war. Now, it appears that the foolish march has no adversaries. Profit and consumption are aligned in their voracity, conducting the world towards global warming, unemployment, migration and inequality.

2. If in this meeting the Heads of State and political leaders think merely as politicians, looking only towards their short-term, local problems, and not as leaders of humanity, looking beyond them, we will be missing an immense opportunity.

Humanity cannot continue defining its future based upon the size of the countries’ GDP. It is necessary to redefine the concept of progress, find new criteria and indices that in fact measure Well-Being, Peace, Employment and Harmony among human beings and between humanity and Nature.

3. We need an International Green Fiscal Policy. It makes no sense that taxes on fossil products should have the same aliquots as products that are in harmony with Nature. Nevertheless, the importance of a global world demands that the Green Fiscal Policy be the result of a worldwide accord. Rio +20 must be the moment for this idea to be considered.

4. Certain natural patrimonies, like large forests, oceans and the geographic poles must be protected from economic ambition and remain free of depredation. Our countries are part of the great Condominium Earth. International accords must limit national sovereignty itself when this refers to the use of the national patrimonies that have an impact upon the life and well-being of future generations.

5. The world has a Hague Tribunal to judge crimes against humanity committed by dictators. We need a Tribunal to judge the crimes against humanity committed by economic agents seeking to satisfy their voracity, thus degrading the environment and throwing millions into misery and unemployment.

6. In 1945, the statespeople succeeded in creating an economic plan that channeled resources towards the industrial reconstruction of a Europe devastated by World War II. It is time for a new boldness, now on a worldwide scale, to avoid the approaching devastation, itself created by the type of progress that is plundering, concentrating and instable.

Only a generation with a new education will obstruct the foolish march of environmental degradation and social inequality. The world needs to make a radical educational reform in all levels and in all its countries to incorporate the ethic values of environmental protection, eliminate social exclusion, and maintain the natural and cultural diversity. We need a Global Marshall Plan for the education of the entire world’s children.

7. We cannot postpone the creation of a World Fund, based upon the Tobin Tax on currency conversion, to support education and the environment and to fight poverty. Besides more stability for the crazy financial system, this fund will serve to attract resources necessary for the projects aiming towards a new type of development.

8. It is necessary to implant a United Nations Program for Human Development (UNPHD) capable of monitoring and influencing development with humanization and humanism, including ecological equilibrium and lifelong education as part of the concept of human rights.

9. Besides this, the Heads of State and politicians must install in Rio de Janeiro, as a legacy of Rio +20 an International Institute for Studies about the Future of Humanity, preferably within the family of the UN University.

10. Humanity cannot continue witnessing the shame of a scientific and technological advance that amplifies the inequality. Without limiting the advance that was made thanks to the incentive of the private patents, it is necessary to create a Public Fund that will permit the financing of all humanity’s access to the scientific discoveries, especially in the area of healthcare.

Speak for us, Madame President. Even if the world leaders do not listen today. Politically, the moral force of your speech, in our name, will remain for the future, as a call for wisdom in the world.

Cristovam Buarque (CBUARQUE@senado.gov.br) is a professor at the University of Brasília and a senator (PDT-DF).

Translated by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).

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