environmental geopolitics

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The current environmental discourse in Brazil is dominated by international geopolitical interests

Among the areas of action of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) of Brazil (https://www.gov.br/mre/pt-br) there is one described as Sustainable development and the environment that refers to action on three fronts: ( i) Sustainable development; (ii) Environment and climate change; and (iii) Sea, Antarctica and Space. Therefore, in this first look, Brazil has an environmental geopolitics.

On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when doing a search using the word geopolitics, I found an interview with former Minister Ernesto Araújo.[I] that, for my purposes, only the beginning of a sentence is usable: “Whoever controls the discourse today, the public discourse, has tremendous power (...)”. It is a simplism that I would like to invert to better express geopolitics: whoever has tremendous power controls public discourse. This power is expressed, minimally, as the conjunction of military, political and economic power. There are numerous situations in which geopolitical questions of action or reaction by the Brazilian government are mixed with our internal politics.

This recent expression (geopolitics), which arises from the projection of a State's power over the space of other States, can even be naively read as the junction of two disciplines, geography and politics. However, there is a multiplicity of forms of power projection (military, economic, technological, for example) and a multiplicity of occupation spaces (territory, cyberspace, culture, for example) that affect all relations between nations. No State is immune to this projection of power in its own space, nor does it fail to do the same in the space of other States. What basically changes between states is the intensity of their action in projecting that power and the degree of reaction to the penetration of their space by other states. In this geopolitical sense, we have become accustomed to the status of a nation occupied by several powers, mainly the USA, China and Germany. These states project their military, economic and technological influence onto the Brazilian space.

There are several signs of this occupation in the public discourse that circulates in Brazil, whose direct or indirect origin is in these countries with geopolitical interests in Brazil. Within a vision of interpenetrating sovereignty, whose borders of a State are not only the territorial borders, but the entire effective space occupied by it, there would be no problem if Brazil also projected its power (action) or contained the power of other states ( reaction). In fact, in none of the G7 or BRICS countries is there any discourse that promotes Brazilian geopolitical interests. The illusion of a conciliatory or neutral foreign policy only hides inertia in our geopolitical action or capitulation in reaction to the geopolitical interests of other nations. The denunciation of WikiLeaks that the US tapped the phone of former president Dilma Rousseff, at the time of Barack Obama's government, is just a small sample of the interference in Brazil by other nations. the big ones players of geopolitics hit and beat in this quest for hegemony. Brazil, on the other hand, only catches or self-mutilates.

The current environmental discourse in Brazil is dominated by international geopolitical interests. Global environmental issues are promoted at the expense of local or regional environmental issues. Global warming and its consequences for climate change is more discussed than basic sanitation and the pollution of our rivers. Decisions on the Brazilian energy matrix, mining and agribusiness are sanctioned by international geopolitics with the endorsement of our elites.

American geopolitics has already interfered in Latin America with regard to the defense of democracy, the fight against drugs, the defense of human rights, for example. They were all speeches that hid, at first, the geopolitical interests of their promoters. It is necessary to build our ability to have our own discourse on environmental issues that meets the interests of Brazil, including the portion of the population forgotten by the political and economic elites. Environmental injustice always gets to them.

*Josis Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and researcher at UFDPar.


[I] https://www.gov.br/mre/pt-br/centrais-de-conteudo/publicacoes/discursos-artigos-e-entrevistas/ministro-das-relacoes-exteriores/discursos-mre/intervencao-do-ministro-ernesto-araujo-no-painel-redefinindo-a-geopolitica-do-forum-economico-mundial-de-davos-29-01-2021

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