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At the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre, President Dilma Rousseff stressed the importance of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in face of the current economic, social and environmental challenges faced by the world. Rio+20, to be held in Rio de Janeiro on June 20-22, will discuss a development model capable of linking growth and job creation, social inclusion and the sustainable use of environmental resources.
Read here the full text of the speech delivered by President Dilma Rousseff in Porto Alegre, on January 26, 2012:
"It is a great pleasure to return to Porto Alegre to attend another meeting of the World Social Forum. I came here in 2001 to participate in the first meeting of the Forum, when I was Secretary of Energy of Governor Olivio Dutra, a friend and a colleague, whom I now salute.
Since that time, this city became a reference for all those seeking an alternative to the imbalances between the economic and the political global situation. Here, we got the message that another world is possible. Here, we have gathered those who did not succumb to the mainstream conformism nor believed in the end of history.
Much has happened in the past eleven years. The international economic crisis, which had been latent, became a real crisis since 2008, and has worsened. But very positive things have also happened since 2001. In Latin America, progressive and democratic approaches to global imbalances were built. In most countries of the region, including my country --Brazil--, major economic, social and political changes are underway.
Our countries grow, while other parts of the world face stagnation, recession and, quite often, high unemployment rates. Our countries fight poverty and social inequality, whereas, in other regions, inequality and exclusion increase, and rights disappear.
Today, our countries do not sacrifice their sovereignty under pressure from superpowers, financial groups or risk rating agencies. But, above all, our countries are strengthening democracy. In South America, as in that iconic Portuguese song of the Carnation Revolution ("Grândola, Vila Morena"), "o povo é que mais ordena" ("the people commands").
The timing of this meeting of the World Social Forum, a few months before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development --Rio+20--, could not have been better. The financial crisis and the uncertainties around the global economy attach a special significance to the Rio+20.
Much of the developed world seeks to address the crisis with regressive fiscal measures, which have adverse social and environmental consequences, and generate dangerous threats, such as unemployment, xenophobia, authoritarianism, disregard for tackling climate change, and threats to world peace.
A few months ago, I was in Cannes, at the G-20 Summit, where new ideas for a new world were at the table. Despite the progress achieved at that meeting, I confess that I was not satisfied with the results. It is not easy to produce new ideas and alternatives when we are dominated by political and ideological prejudices. We know this story all too well.
In the 80s and 90s, faced with deep macroeconomic imbalances, political and ideological prejudices forced on Latin America a conservative model that led our countries to stagnation, to the loss of democratic and sovereign spaces, to increasing poverty, to unemployment and to social exclusion. Today, these failed recipes are being proposed once again in Europe.
Rio+20, which will be attended by Heads of State and Government, but also by significant sectors of civil society, should be an important step in the process of renewal of ideas --unlike the so-called Conferences of the Parties, the COPs. While also addressing important environmental issues and problems linked to climate change, the Rio meeting will address a much broader and more decisive issue: a new development model, comprising three dimensions --economic, social and environmental.
We want the word "development" to appear, from now on, always associated with the term "sustainable". Together with the Millennium Development Goals, we need to set the goals for sustainable development. These goals, including commitments and targets for all countries in the world, should have at its core the fight against poverty and inequality, as well as the environmental sustainability.
We believe here, as we did during the Government of President Lula, that it is possible to grow and to include, to protect and to conserve. Rio+20 will discuss a development model capable of linking growth and job creation, poverty eradication and inequality reduction, social participation and expansion of rights, education and technological innovation, sustainable use and preservation of environmental resources.
Three years ago, in Copenhagen, our Government has taken on new responsibilities in matters related to climate change. We presented in Copenhagen --for the world and for us here in Brazil-- a voluntary pledge to a significant reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, some other countries were reluctant then --and are reluctant even today-- to announce similar efforts. According to the United Nations, no other country has done more than Brazil to reduce GHG emissions. These commitments are part of a great transformation underway in our country over the past nine years.
In my Government, when we talk about sustainable development, and I want to stress this point, we talk about accelerated growth of our economy in order to distribute wealth, in order to create formal jobs and to increase the income of workers. It means income distribution to eradicate extreme poverty and to reduce poverty, including public policies to improve education, health, public safety and all public services provided by the Brazilian Government. It means a balanced regional growth so as to correct the inequality between the regions in Brazil, to address the low levels of development in some parts of the country, such as the North and the Northeast. It means creating a vast market of mass consumption goods, which will provide the internal support to our development. It also means that Brazil is becoming, and we will become, a country of middle classes from a socioeconomic perspective. It means development with environmental sustainability as a prerequisite.
Our choices in energy, food security, infrastructure and technological innovation take into account the sustainable use of our environmental resources.
Furthermore, sustainable development means strengthening the mechanisms of social participation and the strengthening of our democracy, it means encouraging and defending our values, our culture, and our cultural diversity. Finally, it means a sovereign and competitive insertion in the world.
The big knot that President Lula began in 2003 to unravel was the exclusion and social inequality. We are winning this battle, as shown by the 40 million Brazilians who have left poverty and rose to the middle classes. And our efforts to address the social challenges in the coming years are exemplified by our determination to enforce the Brazil Without Extreme Poverty ("Brasil sem Miséria") program.
The place that Brazil today occupies in the world is not the result of any economic miracle, as it happened in the past. It is the result of efforts of the Brazilian people and their Government, who knew how to choose a new path. Today, Brazil is another country. Nobody, no group can get us out of this path. We are now a stronger country, more developed and more respected. A country that lives in harmony with its neighbors in South America and Latin America and the Caribbean, and with them wants to build a beacon of development and democracy in the world.
Likewise, we have opened new relationships with our African brothers and the Arab world, attaching special attention to Palestine, which we hope may soon become a free state --a peaceful and democratic state with its sovereignty guaranteed.
Within the so-called BRIC countries, we fight for a new multipolar economic and political world order, more equitable and democratic. In all global forums, we are supporters of multilateralism, disarmament and negotiated solutions to all threats to world peace.
The task imposed on us by this forum, as well as by Rio+20 and other events to come, is to trigger a renewal of ideas and processes, something essential to address the difficult moments faced by a large part of mankind.
Recent studies by the OECD, an organization formed by developed countries, show an increasing concentration of income and rising inequality in industrialized countries and even in some emerging markets. The downside of all this is the explosion of unemployment and widespread poverty in countries around the world.
These two phenomena --unemployment and social inequality-- are particularly cruel when it comes to rich nations, whose societies won rights and are now loosing them. And they are cruel because they affect primarily young people, women and immigrants. The dissonance between the voice of the markets and the voice of the streets seems to be increasing in developed countries, putting at risk not only social achievements, but democracy itself.
The world of post-neoliberalism cannot be the world of post-democracy, as a German philosopher has recently pointed out. The indignation of youth, women and militants occupying the streets of several cities in the world is an important symptom that cannot be disregarded.
In such context, women have had a growing importance and have determined the changes. As I said at the opening of the UN General Assembly, we women will do everything to ensure that the twenty-first century will be known as the century of women.
The organizations of civil society and the progressive governments, each in their own spheres, can make of these early years of the millennium the beginning of a new era. For that to happen, it is crucial to strengthen the ties of solidarity and the South-South cooperation that bind our peoples.
The great movements in human history are made not only of actions, but also of hope. It was hope that moved my generation decades ago. Today, when I look back and realize all the progress we achieved, I can tell you this: everything was worth it, my colleagues and friends.
It is this hope that unites us and moves us to Rio+20. It is this hope that must always guide us in finding a new way of life, one that is inclusive and sustainable.
Being aware that the role of civil society is crucial to the success of Rio+20, I count on your mobilization, your engagement and your presence in Rio de Janeiro. I am sure that another world is possible.
See you in Rio!"

Rio+20 will discuss a new model of development, says President Dilma at the World Social Forum

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