When it comes to climate news related to Brazil in recent years, international headlines have tended to emphasize the country’s losses (like deforestation in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest), its deficits (lately, in climate-protecting laws), and its warnings (for example, in research about insect decline).
Over a year ago, a group of Columbia Business School students, alumni, and prominent Brazilian leaders across sectors decided it was time to challenge that predominantly negative narrative. They set out to organize an event that could help establish a new narrative — one that is far more complex, hopeful, and solution oriented.
Their efforts culminated in the Brazil Climate Summit, a two-day event at Columbia Business School this past September that brought together nearly 70 diverse speakers for 16 panels across two days, with 550 live attendees — more than half of them from Brazil — and over 4,000 livestream viewers.
Speakers and attendees included Columbia Business School Dean Costis Maglaras, Professor Bruce Usher, business leaders, entrepreneurs, experts, policymakers, NGOs, and multilateral organizations to discuss Brazil’s opportunities and responsibilities in a world where environmental and social impacts are the pillars of a new capitalism.
The panels tackled topics such as technology and disruption, policy changes and incentives to achieve net zero, climate justice, and the potential of the carbon credit economy.
The Brazil Climate Summit was intentionally scheduled just a week before Climate Week NYC, to bring a unified vision of Brazil’s future as a climate leader into the proceedings, explains Luciana Antonini Ribeiro, founder of EB Capital, a CBS alumna, and a member of the summit advisory board.
“We know our problems, and we are bigger than our problems,” says Marina Cançado, co-CEO of Future Carbon Group and a lead organizer of the summit. Cançado adds that she believes the international community ignores at its own peril Brazil’s potential as a climate solutions hub: “The world won’t reach net zero without Brazil.”
Of course, Brazil also stands to benefit from positioning itself as a leader in the global transition to net zero. According to Boston Consulting Group’s “Brazil Climate Report 2022,” which was created exclusively for the Brazil Climate Summit, Brazil stands to attract between $2 trillion and $3 trillion in investments related to the green transition by 2050.
Cançado acknowledges as much: “The green agenda is the driver for Brazil’s economic development from now on.”
BCG’s report highlights Brazil’s potential to lead, specifically in exporting ideas and products related to regenerative agriculture, nature-based solutions, green hydrogen, and industrial goods like low-carbon steel and low-carbon cement.
At the event, speakers, attendees, and others delved into each of these areas of potential, discussing their promise, their challenges, and the necessary work ahead.
Watch sessions from the 2022 Brazil Climate Summit.