Today begins the eighth edition of the Virada Sustentável Festival São Paulo, a Sustainable Week Festival. A major event on the topic in Brazil, the initiative promotes opportunities to present projects and facilitate discussions that lead to social, environmental and technical solutions to global problems. Based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations, the event takes place in several cities and, in 2018, it happened also in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Salvador and Manaus.
At the official opening, guests pointed out the main challenges of 2030 Agenda from the business perspective, as well as public management and civil society organizations. Mediated by Ricardo Young, entrepreneur, teacher and adviser of Virada Sustentável Festival, it made the audience reflect on how different groups articulate in search of agreements and planetary pacts.
Ricardo Voltolini e Haroldo Machado Filho: path to sustainability
“This agenda has been approved by the UN, but does not belong to it. It is everyone’s commitment. And it is global, not uniform. It must be adapted to the reality of each place, each people”, emphasizes Haroldo Machado Filho, senior adviser of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Brazil. For him, the important thing is the value of common intentions, partnerships and joint efforts. “We have to feel happy living in a plural, open and transparent democratic environment, which are achievements of Brazilian society.”
Marcelo Arantes, advertising, marketing and sustainable development VP at Braskem, emphasizes that, when talking about collective engagement, the risk is that responsibilities will be diluted. “We at Braskem ponder very clearly on our vulnerabilities. We reworked sustainable development policies and included them in our business plan.” He reports that the company has specific goals and measures its results, such as a 21% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 11% energy savings in its processes. “In partnership with Akatu, we educated 100,000 young people about conscious consumption and how to meet the material cycle through recycling. We have developed the bluevision platform to disseminate content about the theme and promote initiatives.”
Known as the 2030 Agenda, the UN’s internationally designed action plan seeks to encourage sustainable policies across all dimensions of human life, such as access to health, education, inclusion, security, environmental protection, urban mobility, personal hygiene, gender equity and others, considering the eradication of poverty as the most significant challenge and a prerequisite for sustainable development.
Alexandre Schneider, municipal educational officer, said the ideal would be to have government plans entirely based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) guidelines. “Fragmentation and bureaucracy are major challenges. We must be humble to understand that dialogue must be permanent. Sometimes we hear things we do not like, but we must build as collectively as we can.”
17 Goals, 169 Targets
The UN document was signed in 2015, distinguishing priorities and outlining the signatory countries’ achievements over 15 years. The Actions pillar highlights the concepts of the five Ps: People (social focus), Planet (environmental focus), Prosperity (economy and income), Peace (agreements between nations) and Partnership. Haroldo Machado notes that the latter is perhaps the main item, given the degree of requirement of the 169 targets outlined in the document. Isolated, punctual or individual actions will not have the necessary projection. According to him, it is essential to seek partners, build together and dare. “If the world isn’t better for everyone by 2031, it will not be better for anyone. This is the main call.”
“If the world is not better for everyone by 2031, it will not be better for anyone. This is the main call.” – Haroldo Machado Filho, senior adviser to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Brazil
For Marcelo, the competition is beginning to be permeated by collaborative actions in the chemical and petrochemical sectors, especially in the areas of sustainability and environmental conservation, mainly due to partnerships. “The global pact is key to managing the coalition towards collaboration.” The executive director of Alana Institute, Carolina Pasquali, agrees that it will be necessary to reconcile divergences to advance. She says betting on creativity is essential to find ways to create a narrative that speaks about the world we want to build through movies, journalism, and stories. “Art and culture sensitize and disarm us, help us seeing what we do not see when we only look at ourselves. We need to look at the heart, the body and lightness.”
Investments in social responsibility and environmental actions, whether from private initiatives or from civil society organizations, often lack the funds to move forward. Ricardo Young says that investors are little-commented actors in the chain that fosters sustainability, since they do not necessarily participate in the processes, although they made possible important projects that, without them, would hardly happen. “This year, with Larry Fink’s letter, I’ve noticed a major awareness movement for sustainability issues.”
Larry Fink, BlackRock Executive Chairman, is one of the most influential investors in the world and has more than UU$ 6 trillion, or four times the Brazilian GDP in 2017, under his responsibility. Fink has also traditionally sent letters to leaders of other companies commenting on trends. In January of this year, the emphasis was on the importance of social investments and attention to the revision of concepts such as “result”, “profit” and “risk”.
“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” Fink wrote. Denise Hills, president of the Brazilian Global Compact Network and sustainability superintendent at Itaú-Unibanco, says that Fink’s positioning has changed the world at the moment. “The competition between companies is getting at a moment of collaboration, of finding common interests that result in collective goods to society. Not participating in this move is a new risk for investors.”
Content published in October 22, 2018