The Brazilian Decade Continues
Two years ago I said that Brazil will define this decade, and 20 percent into the 2010s, I am sticking to my guns. Superficially, two large mega sporting events come to mind, but there are far more reasons to be mindful of Brazil’s dominance on the global scene. Its economy recently surpassed the United Kingdom and is now the world’s sixth largest economy. Its energy portfolio is promising, from offshore oil supplies to a burgeoning wind power sector. Regions of the country that were once left behind, like Bahia, are now experiencing rapid economic growth. With that success comes a growing threat to valuable areas of biodiversity such as the cerrado, savannah-like plains that are just as critical to Brazil’s environment as the Amazon. Nevertheless, while much of the world is flailing and is ridden with angst, these are good times for Brazil. Brazilians have much to be proud of: its leading mid century and futuristic architect, Oscar Niemeyer, is still at it at the age of 104; and his creation and polarizing capital, Brasília, now benefits from architects and designers that aim to make this city much more livable, sustainable and resilient. Meanwhile cities like Curitiba will continue to thrive as laboratories of resilience and innovation. And while Brazil has always had a solid manufacturing sector that includes automobile and airplane assembly, green technology is holding its own as well. Meanwhile cities like Curitiba will continue to thrive as laboratories of resilience and innovation. With economic growth comes concern over environmental management, but the combination of grass roots activism, entrepreneurship and government accountability is starting to change the story of Brazil from one of destruction to one of conservation. But overall, Brazil’s story is one that should be admired. Its poverty programs are working, the status of women is improving and the country is making strides in health and education. Call it Latin America’s tiger or lion, Brazil is getting it right. From sidewalks to sunsets, it takes a visit to Brazil to appreciate fully this country’s wonders. Brazilian exceptionalism, however, will long be felt far away from its Atlantic shores. Pictured: Salvador da Bahia, courtesy Leon Kaye.