New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment




A breathtaking scenery in the south of Brazil is being put at risk by an administrative management, that does not respect the environment or the needs of the inhabitants. Irene Silva works as a biologist at the Brazilian Institute of Environment, which has had considerable success in mediating conflicts, in the full respect both of people and environment.  

Irene Silva - Brazil

I have worked as a biologist at the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.

I managed the environmental protection of the beach of Piaçabuçu located along the southern coast of the State of Alagoas, an area rich in natural beauty. It is a place created to protect the sea turtles and sea birds that rest and reproduce along the coast, a place of exclusive and unique beauty, also expressed by the relationships among its traditional communities, with considerable human and cultural values.

In the "Protected Areas for Sustainable Growth", activities and exploitation of natural resources are permitted, provided that these are carried out in a rational, orderly and controlled manner.  Sustainable development is allowed as long as it is within the socio-economic and cultural traditions of local populations, in this way protecting the most significant areas intended for the conservation of natural heritage.

Nevertheless, management of the territory is done according to an old model of economic development, which does not include social equality or take into account environmental protection. This has led to constant threats to conservation because of inappropriate use of natural resources and inefficiency of basic services to the poor.  After all these years, the result has been a very low level of social management undermining the rights of people in these areas.

Since the territory came under our control, we aimed to minimise environmental impacts while raising maximum biodiversity and conservation.  Operating in this way and using resources in a sustainable manner, within a short time difficulties started in the relationships between us, representing the community’s interests, and those representing business and private interests.  A "war of management" of the territory broke out characterized by antagonism between the existing powers.

In spite of the conflicts, our experience clearly shows that it is not the differences of opinions and interests which in itself can destroy relationships, but rather the manner in which these situations are handled. Following this line of thought, our organisation was able to perceive the risk, without refraining from fighting, but at no time acted to stop or destroy the other party.  Our aim was to awaken in the challenger a greater environmental awareness so that they will become a new partner.

Take for example a conflict related to shrimp fishing and marine disposal of garbage. After two public hearings in court, following negotiations and respectful discussions on all the problems related to fishing, an agreement was reached.  Now there is a rule of separating organic waste from inorganic matter with different disposal destinations.

We are slowly bringing together the point of view of those who live in these areas with local tourism and the opportunities that the beauty of the landscape can offer to the entire community.

©  Photo Copyright Luke Joel, Creative Commons License





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