Economic development can never be at the cost of human growth and development, says Brenda Carolinne Martins; who highlights how COP27 is an opportunity for dialogue that can elevate voices from South America.
My name is Brenda and I’m a 22-year-old social scientist from the Cerrado biome in Brazil. I currently work for a socio-environmental organization, called EcomAmor. Through the implementation of education projects, we work to build and develop sustainable cities and connect people with nature. I am also a young leader and activist affiliated with Restless Development and the Global Commons Alliance. I am passionate about projects that cause impact by raising awareness of the global commons, climate justice, and science-based targets for nature. COP27 as an opportunity to elevate South American voices about climate change.
As a young black woman from the 2nd largest biome of South America: Cerrado. I have seen the challenges that my country has faced in recent years. A few short years were enough to wreak havoc in Brazil – causing us to lose control of one of the main things that make Brazil, Brazil. The beautiful nature that we exist within.
Why is Cerrado so important?
The Cerrado is a vast tropical and subtropical biome covering more than 20 per cent of Brazil, it includes a number of ecosystems from tall closed forests to marshlands to open grassland. It is also the largest savannah in South America. Today, it is one of Brazil’s most threatened ecosystems.
The Impact of Climate Change on Brazil.
The Climate Observatory, a Brazilian civil society network working on the climate agenda, noted that in 2021 Brazil emitted 2.42 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, the worst result since 2003.
The latest IPCC report affirmed that if Earth’s temperature continues to rise, Brazil will become a very dry region, especially in its central part and at Amazon, with a 2-4° temperature rise. This is significant because Brazil harbours nearly 60% of the Amazon.
Higher temperatures may change the range and distribution of temperature-sensitive species, and the increased drought severity can significantly affect the Amazon’s freshwater ecosystems and the people that rely on them. Should climate impacts decrease agricultural production, Brazil’s food insecurity could increase, as could pressure from farmers on the Amazon’s land and resources.
The desertification of Cerrado: Hotter, drier, and deadlier
The central region highlighted in the IPCC report, Cerrado, is where I am from. It is where I was born, and it is where my family, friends, and all of those whom I love, live. Year by year, we feel the climate turning drier and hotter, the rains more violent and the wildfires increasingly destructive.
One of the world’s largest biodiversity hotspots, and a vital source of much of Brazil’s water supply, the Cerrado biome may collapse in thirty years, if agri-businesses continue to grow at their frenetic pace.
Given the rapid rate of deforestation in the area, Cerrado, following from what we have seen in the Amazon forest – has seen an imbalance of the area’s native flora and fauna. This impact on the biome’s biodiversity strongly impacts the traditional communities who live off what the biome offers.
COP27: An opportunity to highlight South American voices
This blog aims to bring awareness to a critical region in Brazil. Several local and international organisations linked to the Brazil Climate Action Hub, are present at COP27. They are working hard to raise awareness about the Cerrado biome, highlighting the ways in which the region is important to global climate balance.
They are bringing South American voices to this international platform. And they’re asking for more thoughtful actions by European Parliaments in their international relations with Mercosur when considering our natural diversity.
Brazil is a continental country with many natural diversities – 6 biomes and 1 marine ecosystem. There is an opportunity to grow and work towards economic development, however, this cannot be at the cost of human development.
And, we certainly cannot keep taking and extracting from the Earth, without considering its needs, strengths, and intricacies (and what we can give back). So, the time to create political agreements that respect the reality of biomes and their traditional peoples is now!
Image Credits: Brenda Caroline Martins, at the Chapada dos Veadeiros region
Brenda is a member of the Global Commons Alliance Campaign Steering Group, and a social scientist with academic research experience in anthropology, sociology, race, gender, cinema, and immigration. She was also involved in scientific initiations, artistic extension projects, and film exhibitions focused on gender. In addition, she worked with content creation at technology and fashion companies. Now, she works with Indicators and Projects in a Brazilian socio-environmental organization that, through education, seeks to impact and transform communities in the state of Goiás.