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Interview with Jorge Abrahão

This time we talk to Jorge Abrahão president of Instituto Ethos, one of the IACC’s partners in organising the 15th IACC. Its mission is to mobilise and help companies manage their business in a socially responsible manner, making them partners in building a just and sustainable society. Instituto Ethos does this through the exchange of knowledge and experiences and the development of tools to help companies analyse their management practices and deepen their commitment to responsibility social and sustainable development. Read about what Instituto Ethos would like to see happen at Rio+20 in Brazil.

In terms of pushing the transparency and accountability agenda forward, what are your expectations for Rio+20 next year?

It is necessary to develop a road map to internalize compromises in the economic order, internally and externally, fostering a transition agenda to a green, inclusive and responsible economy. A responsible economy, which seeks to strengthen a set of humanistic and universal principles and values that sustain the democratic functioning of societies and markets, through the development of ethical and integrity values, we need to promote a culture of transparency and build strong mechanisms to fight corruption.

With so many issues at stake and on the table atRio+20, what kind of outputs would Instituto Ethos ideally like to see stemming from the discussions?

This is not an easy answer, but if I need to highlight some issue, I would list three points. First, the reduction of the ecological footprint, considering reducing the consumption of resources, the impacts on ecosystems and their conservation and restoration. The second point would be poverty eradication and reduction of social, political and economic inequalities, translating into access to goods, income and public services. And the third issue is the Implementation of a system of integrity and transparency for commitments in public-private relations, including a mandatory public annual disclosure of sustainability policies and practices by multinational corporations, public companies and utilities, or justification of impossibility of report.

What do you feel is the single most important issue?

Rio+20 will face the challenge and the opportunity to analyze the global crisis – started in 2008 and unfolded in 2010/2011 –, taking into account the exhaustion in the traditional development model and the reinforced imposition of short term economic imperatives over political decisions, proposing a change of course based on sustainable development principles and imperatives. Surely, there will be conflicts of interests and of visions amongst the more advanced voices, perhaps Brazil among them, to defend a political affirmation in its multilateral dimension with impacts in internal orders, also leading to the end of the crisis. In this sense, concrete proposals must be presented to internalize decisions in the real politics and in the real economy, in their global and local dimensions, observing the principle of non-regression in relation to previous commitments.

If Rio+20 is not able to construct this path, there will be a great risk to miss the accumulation of all decisions mentioned above, which are fundamental in building a fairer, inclusive, responsible, and environmentally-friendly global order. With this context, and with this spirit, we offer the following suggestions, proposing the internalization of Rio92 decisions in the political sphere, as well as in the economic sphere through the adoption of goals and concrete actions that, we believe, will contribute to overcome the crisis and to build a new development paradigm.

What do you think needs to be done better in Brazil with regards to implementing a green and sustainable economy? What should the government, civil society and private sector commit to?

We need to reinforce that the dialogue and the planning process must be a collective action between government, business sector and society. There are already some initiatives in this direction in Brazil but they need to be deepening. With that, we can adopt, progressively, a new national accountability standard measure development, start paying for ecosystem’s services and establish minimum operating standards.

The dialogue also makes it possible to create links between public and private actions in developing and following through with the national plans. If the Brazilian government adopt a sustainable purchasing policies, that will help in this process.

There are two more cultural aspects that we need to improve what we already do in Brazil. The first is includes in the decision-making process four aspects: the social, the environmental, the economic and the ethical. Second, we need to do effective investments, bought the public and private sector, in a new education model focusing on developing values and culture.

What role do you feel Instituto Ethos plays in the process of sustainability and a green and responsible economy in Brazil?

The Ethos Institute works to coordinate the many initiatives scattered and fragmented in the public, in society and market organizations that work for sustainable development in Brazil. To unite these efforts, we collaborate with enterprises and civil society entities, a platform for an inclusive, green and responsible economy.

We are confident that a dialogue between different sectors can build effective proposals for a new economy, and secureBrazil’s role as a global leader in the sustainability agenda.

What do you think could be the IACC’s role in the follow up process to Rio+20?

The IACC can play an integral role: it can deepen and regulate the commitments for combating corruption and transparency adopted at Rio+20.

However it’s important to note that these proposals and strategies will only be successful if government, business and civil society leaders are involved in the implementation process. In addition, as a forum that facilitates cross-collaboration between countries and anti-corruption fighters from around the globe, the IACC can play a fundamental role in following up on the Rio+20 discussions, and pushing the anti-corruption agenda at other international fore.