always for developmentMonday September 8th, 2014
Pedro Luis Passos and Mario Mantovani*
A paradox round the election debate: the process should supply opportunities for a broad discussion of national problems often end up bypassing the essence of these problems. Example is the water rationing already faced today by millions of São Paulo. Parties trade accusations on the subject without locking a thorough and free debate.
At no time, however, the tragedy of water in São Paulo was presented to the voter as what it actually is: a serious environmental crisis. The forestry and environmental agenda seems to have sunk in the Brazilian public debate, especially the speech of candidates in the October elections.
The policy continues to treat the forest as “obstacle to development”, when it should see it as a lever of this. To try to show the links between environmental conservation and well-being, the SOS Atlantic Forest prepared a document with 14 targets to be adopted by the candidates to the President and the Governor. The goals are structured in three areas: forests, sea and cities.
The goal is to get the candidates to commit to a development agenda that is forever -that preserve and foster the natural resources that are the very foundation of development. The shaft forests, the letter asks candidates to commit to veto any efforts to change the legal rite of creation of protected areas, avoiding the approval of PEC 215.
We also ask that the next government complete the regularization process of federal conservation units and quintuplique the budget of protected areas. It seems too much ambition, but all we ask is that Brazil invests in these units the same as investing in Argentina. The sea axis is an amazingly new agenda in Brazil, which has more than 8,000 km of coastline and a quarter of the population living on the coast.
We asked the candidates to work for approval as early as 2015, of the National Policy Law for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biome, the first legal framework for the protection of our coast and our estuaries. The lack of basic sanitation in coastal municipalities harms not only the sea, but also the health of coastal residents -razão why we proposed that candidates commit to double by 2018, the number of coastal municipalities with sanitation coverage.
The shaft cities is what unifies the three agendas: it is in urban areas living 84% of the population and it is in them that the side effects of deforestation, pollution and resource depletion are felt most acutely. In order to mitigate the current problems and future risks of water shortages, we proposed to candidates working to institute basin committees across the country as early as 2015 and, through them, to start charging for the use of water to all users – today agriculture, the largest water user, enjoys moratorium on the payment.
We also ask that the federal Executive propose changing a rule that allows one to pollutants in urban rivers in addition to its dilution capacity. This resolution, four decades ago, prevents some sources, such as the Tiete, are used today to ease the seat in the largest metropolitan area in South America. The leaders of 40 years ago could excuse himself and say they did not know what would result his short future vision. Today’s rulers have no such excuse -and will not be forgiven if they show the same lack of strategic thinking.
* Pedro Luis Passos is president of SOS Atlantic Forest Foundation Mario Mantovani is director of Public Policy at the SOS Atlantic Forest Foundation