From Marabá, in Pará, we fly around
1200 kilometres to the federal capital
It is situated
in the middle of Goiás State, in central Brazil. We will spend
only a few days in this astounding city but they will be extremely busy.
We hope to divide
our time between visiting the media, politicians, the Brazilian Institute
for the Environment and Renewable Resources, the national base of the
National Council of Rubber Tappers and the Institute of Socio-Economic
The INESC is an NGO
which helped set up extractive reserves in the Brazilian Amazon. We also
have another reason for visiting Brasília. In its conception, design
and construction, this city represents the opposite of sustainable development.
As a planned modernist city it is a symbol of the massive industrial exploitation
of natural resources.
When we meet the
media (foreign and Brazilian press and television) and the politicians
(both Brazilian and the foreign ambassadors), we will discuss the findings
of our visit. We will also get their opinions on the future of development
not just in the Amazon but for the whole of Brazil. We want to find out
whether they think these projects can help resolve the problems Brazil
faces or whether they believe they are an obstacle to economic development.
Although we have
only a brief time in Brasília, we will have time to marvel at the
extraordinary spectacle of the citys design and architecture. Brasília
is a true feat of human endeavour and vision. It is the largest planned
city in the world. Commissioned in 1956, by President Juscelino Kubitschek,
it expressed the vision of Brazils elite at a time of emerging industrial
dynamism. As Brazils first inland capital it was intended as a catalyst
for the economic development of Brazils vast untapped interior,
including the Amazon.
Others have been
less kind about the city: the Royal Institute of British Architects once
described it as the backside of the moon. For others it represents
the same destructive spirit and determination which has led to the construction
of mega-projects in the Amazon and which sees the region as
a massive resource for human development.
The city, with its
vast stretches of concrete avenues and modernist buildings, can sometimes
appear a rather sterile and vapid environment and it is surrounded by
a ring of impoverished shanty towns, yet these facts cannot detract from
the monumental achievement that the city is. It is shaped in the form
of an aeroplane or bird in flight, the architectural symbol of Brazils
ambition to exploit its inland resources and transform itself into a developed
nation. It was designed by the three best Brazilians in their fields:
Oscar Niemeyer, inspired by the French founder of the modern planned city,
Le Corbusier, was the architect; Lucio Costa was the urban planner; and
Burle Marx the landscape architect.
The audacity and
ambition of its construction echoed that of its political authors. It
was built 125 kilometres from the nearest paved road, 120 kilometres from
the nearest timber supply and the nearest source of steel was further
still. At the same time the construction of two major highways was also
completed: the Belém-Brasília highway and Brazils
first transcontinental highway. Brasília was conceived, planned
and built in under four years.
we fly south-east to our final destination, Rio de Janeiro.
On our return
to Rio de Janeiro we will relax and assess all that we have learned.
By the end of our
visit we may have come nearer to answering our initial question: can sustainable
development meet the social needs of Brazil? The Amazon visit is only
the initial leg of our exchange. On our return we will immediately start
finalising the plans for the second leg when representatives from Brazil
join us for further debate and an opportunity to understand what we want
and expect from development in Europe.
We will also begin
a national tour of youth groups, schools and colleges to present our findings
and share what we have learned with our peers.