INTERVIEW WITH NELTON FRIEDRICH
Coordination Director at ITAIPU Binational Brazil
General Coordinator of the “Agua Boa Cultivando” program
SCHOOL OF SYNERGY
It is contradictory to think that technology will solve social and environmental problems. Science and technology are valuable tools but we can not forget that they are often in the service of power predators, polluters, with a short-term vision. Today’s problems are the result of “technical solutions” from yesterday.
The most important thing now is to change the hearts and minds programmed in a linear, economist, immediatist and segmented posture. The lack of participation of society and local actors in finding solutions convert every effort in a piece of infrastructure.
What we need is a radical change in the way of being-feel-produce and consume. We are what we think and if our thinking is directed to a process for producing infinite, unlimited growth, the idea that nature is a machine, it is more important to have that to be, it is difficult to imagine a pro-active actions, solidarity, care, respect, and love. If we are not what we think and that we are not what we feel, we are not what we do.
Political will is the root of the “Cultivando Agua Boa” (CAB) program. It has built a vast network of 3,000 actors, with the commitment of most significant entities to strengthen democracy participatory in our region which has 29 municipalities and one million inhabitants.
It is not a product but a process. Beyond the balance point and the figures achieved by the CAB program, the most significant result is the synergy process that is facilitated and attended by thousands of people and institutions in joint and culture and consciousness of sustainability.
In the methodology of CAB, the base is the area where we live, where we derive our identity: life is in a territory and this territory is the micro-watershed. There are organized meetings with communities – with all the social actors who inhabit the territory of the micro-basin. These meetings serve to motivate, move, move people and articulate forces. In these meetings, we construct a Management Committee of that territory where are reunited people who pollute and find people who are affected by the pollution, elected officials, universities and NGOs, businesses and trade unions, churches…
The Management Committee fulfills a very significant mission, it gathers and articulates actors who are often reluctant or remote. It does not bring to the community a recipe, it does not say “do this”. The “Workshop of the Future” is a community process that brings forth ideas, dreams, hopes, which draws the map of liabilities and assets socio-environmental planning. It is a way for us to re-login as collective subjects of our history and our future.
ROLE OF THE COMPANY
For a corporate citizen as the Itaipu Binational dam, the most important is to articulate, to combine efforts, allocate responsibilities and not only to provide resources. Itaipu does not provide financial support if the other partners are also contributing. Otherwise, we do not. If we give Real (Brazilian currency), it is because the other players are another Real or sometimes two Reales. With a real investment, we reach the equivalent of three Reales. It is a conscious process of “social engineering” which allows to make much more things and to share responsibilities.
We are not talking about money without having previously met the community and have defined with it, and not for itself, what will be done. Thus we can quantify the necessary budget.
But not only the financial aspect : the success of actions does not depend on the structure itself, but mainly the behavior, attitudes of the community itself. The hardware implementation for the hardware realization has no meaning, it is too often ephemeral because it is then not monitored or with maintenance. When there is this culture of community participation, monitoring, it is certain that people will take care because they helped to decide and carry out the work.
Everything is easier when you awaken consciences, which brings together the wills that social channels this energy before sleeping. It generates a large flow of human energy, motivation, participation, which allows for great leaps forward, and not a few small steps.
One of the biggest successes of a work like this is not to leave a sense of support, philanthropy and marketing disturb the structuring vision to be developed. It is easy to make a philanthropic action or ecological marketing for a photo, but these actions are only occasional, they are not structural. We do not do this. We do not work in an emergency or in response to a request. It is usual that public entities are working on demand, in response to pressure or claims an interest group or another. The short-term demands : there is a lack of water, we get water…The real public policy does not act when demanded or in state of emergency. We can not do without participatory democracy, community. The action must be structuring.
To do this, we work according to the terms of territory : micro-watershed by micro-watershed basin, creating a medium and long term work culture, without falling into “immediatists” actions with purely cosmetic effects. We create collective action in a systemic vision, with interconnection.
Environmental education inteconnects, infiltrates actions to transform the program into a continuous and structuring process, with effects in the medium and long term in the territory. We can say that what we are experiencing here is like a big open social-ecological laboratory, a participatory democracy classroom. The most important result is the empowerment of people and communities in the opportunity to act, to recover a sense of belonging to the community, to the territory : “Here is my life, here is the life of my family, my neighbors, my hopes and my frustrations. ” This identity provides a framework for our lives. We feel it when someone in the community, during the Water Pact has been concluded in his community, look with pride the t-shirt that bears the design of micro-basin on the chest.
These feelings have a value that is difficult to measure.
THE TRIPLE BORDER : A POLE OF POLITICAL WILL
We have the opportunity to live in a triple border region (Brazil-Paraguay-Argentina), bathed in the Paraná river and Iguazú River in one of most beautiful places on the planet. Nature has no boundaries. Brazilians, Paraguayans and Argentines are in the same watershed. In the new understanding of the interdependence, interconnection, water should unite us, not divide us.
The triple border actually promotes the meeting of peoples with different languages (Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani) around a cause as noble as that of life itself. This is an ongoing search for individuals and joint actions. We see born a strength of socio-geopolitical environment, different geopolitical forces colonizing process of domination that prevailed until very recent epochs. The triple border has turned into a major center of political will : the three countries are in the process of being closer, conducting joint and complementary.
The first pillars of this reconciliation are the Itaipu Technological Park, cooperation between institutions and public enterprises, universities and NGOs. We construct the Knowledge Centre Plata Basin and UNILA (University of Integration in Latin America) to promote regional integration by other paradigms, with a Latin American vision. Each time a little more, these experiences of good practices become a true center that radiates a source of replicability. In this sense, the triple border is the meeting point of many wills : an open laboratory of best practices, solidarity and hope.
A GREAT LEARNING COMMUNITY
Faced with the greatest social and ecological crisis in the history of humanity, we are all apprentices, we must learn, and often re-learning, including re-learn to love. Love your neighbor, love the community, love the source of water, earth, air. This is the great learning of another paradigm, another model of civilization that we must build. In this process, it is possible to divide, where synergy, vision systems, understanding that we are all interconnected and that everything is interconnected. Life is a network of cells, molecules, there is no life without network.
In this great learning community, we find values that we have lost or have been suppressed. We find ancestral knowledge, popular knowledge, establishing a dialogue of knowledge. In this learning process, we rediscover the Other, abandoning selfishness, individualism. We complement each other in building a global citizenship.
This learning also leads us to rediscover the deep spirituality. This will cause major changes within individuals and thence to the environment in which they live. This creates a chain reaction, a multiplier effect, which will be held either by governments or by arms.
In Foz do Iguaçu, October 2010