Before we begin our travels in the
Amazon region we start our exchange
in the city of
Here we hope
to meet the Brazilian media and Brazilian politicians. We will also use
our time in the cidade maravilhosa, marvellous city, to acclimatise and
prepare for our journey ahead.
Rio de Janeiro is
at the heart of Brazils industrial sector. It is also a city where
poverty is a daily reality for the millions who live in its shanty towns.
In 1992 Rio de Janeiro was the venue for the United Nations Conference
on the Environment and Development (UNCED), the Earth Summit. Both sustainable
development and the role of the Amazon as a major resource for the development
of Brazil were hotly debated at UNCED. Rio is therefore the perfect place
to begin. Rio de Janeiro is also a pleasure seekers paradise. It
is the home of the train robber and Sex Pistols inspiration, Ronnie Biggs
and seven million cariocas, as its inhabitants are known, the ultimate
pleasure seekers, who delight in their samba and football. The Maracanã
Football Stadium is Brazils temple of football and held 200,000
fans on the occasion of Pelés last game. It is a tribute
to the artistry of the Brazilian game. It is one of the most common postcard,
tourist destinations, with its beautiful beaches, such as Ipanema/Leblon,
Botafogo and Copacabana/ Leme, the sambadrome, skyscrapers, Pãu
de Açúcar–sugar loaf–mountain and the huge statue
of Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado mountain.
The city and the
region in which it rests–the south-east–is a testament to
the modern aspirations and potential of Brazil. The south east region,
which includes the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Espírito
Santo and Rio de Janeiro, is the industrial powerhouse of Brazil and Latin
America. Its economic output is greater than that of any other single
Latin American nation. It has the largest port in the world, Santos and
one of the worlds largest car industries. Its industries supply
the wealth that make Brazils economy the tenth largest in the world.
Yet, the city of
Rio de Janeiro and the south east region also reveal the severe social
problems experienced by Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is a city of extreme contrasts,
reflecting the divisions and inequalities of Brazilian society: the poor
scraping an existence in the shanty towns which ring the city and the
rich, protected from this squalor, in their sumptuous apartments, with
security guards and high fences. There are 43 million people living below
the poverty line in Brazil.
The Brazilian Amazon
is a massive resource which could be utilised to solve many of these problems.
At the same time it is argued that sustainable development must be applied
to the Amazon in order to protect its natural resources.
In Rio de Janeiro
we will visit the Rocinha shanty towns or favela, as they are known in
Brazil. Here we meet our first partner group. We will ask them whether
they consider sustainable development to be relevant to their needs and
ambitions and whether it is the best form of development for the Amazon
We hope to meet the
media and Brazilian politicians. Rio de Janeiro is home to Brazils
largest television, radio and press network–Rede Globo. It is also
the national stronghold of Brazils Green Party. We aim to get news
of our visit and the opinions of those from the favela broadcast on television
and radio. We will also arrange for more media time on our return from
After a day on the
beach with our partner group we set out for our first Brazilian Amazon
destination, the Amazon state of Rondônia.