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.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.