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Backlands of Brazil

Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2010

From COP15: Journalist, Andreia Fanzeres, reflects on her upbringing in the Brazilian backlands and expresses her hope for future generations.

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Copyright The Open University


Interviewer: How did you get interested in climate change?


Andreia Fanzeres: I was born in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, and I started working with the environment, professionally with the environment like since 2002, working on a science magazine in Rio. During my childhood, I’ve lived in the backlands of Brazil in an area called Pantanal. I don't know if you’ve heard, it’s the most, the largest wetlands areas in Brazil. But it was like part of my childhood. By that time, I hadn’t realised the importance of environment, it was just part of my life. And then when I went back to Rio, I was like 16 years old, and then I decided oh my god, all the city, the buildings, everything and I just want to know how the national parks are, to hike and to be in contact with nature again, and then I decided to do a journalism degree and immediately started working with environment.

Some years have passed and I had a chance to move to Mato Grosso State, and after I got married I lived in the Amazon for almost two years. Today I’m still there in Mato Grosso State but not inside the Amazon biome, and all this time working in the backlands of Brazil and actually living there had taught me many important things about how to deal with nature and the rhythm of deforestation, the speed of deforestation, and what concerns me the most is that since actually I’m pregnant I started thinking what really my daughter will be able to see in the Amazon, because when I was born, I know there were like four or five small cities in the Amazon, and the deforestation was far from the beginning, and now like, well now there’s almost anything so. When my daughter will have my age, what will she be able to see, that’s my main concern.

Interviewer: What are you working on now?

Andreia Fanzeres: Today I work in an environmental website called O Eco. We are four reporters, each one of us works from home, and from Mato Grosso I am able to travel around the Amazon, the Brazilian savannahs and also to that wetlands region where I’ve passed like four years of my childhood. So I’m one of the reporters more close to natural and protected areas. So it gives me a huge opportunity to register the state of the environment in Brazil.

Interviewer: What are the big issues in Brazil?

Andreia Fanzeres: It’s indeed a very difficult question because there are many, many threatening activities around protected areas. So if you, if the Government does not hurry to protect these areas they’re quickly, they’re quickly gone. So there are many things that threatens these areas, and still you can find very good places, very conserved places, but every year you’ve got to travel further to find these places, it’s very sad.

Interviewer: Does the government need to act locally?

Andreia Fanzeres: Of course the commitment of each sector of the society is necessary, it’s more than necessary, but from what I’ve seen in the Amazon region, especially, when the Government is not present, all the threats come true, so deforestation really really happens. So the Government needs to be there and to enforce the law and to be able to explain to the population why is it necessary to protect some areas, what are the rules, in which situations people are allowed to get in and which situations people are allowed just to manage the natural resources. There is a huge lack of information as well. So that’s one of the things that inspires me as a journalist in the Amazon because I know people have poor access to information there.

Interviewer: What will you be doing in the next 5 to 10 years?

Andreia Fanzeres: From what we’ve been seeing here at Copenhagen, in the summit, sometimes I’d rather not think of the future, not to be afraid of the future. But, well, but I would like to continue working with environment, this is, sure I will continue working with environment, but maybe not necessarily as a journalist, maybe not necessarily at the same place. If I could be useful in other areas, I’m sure I would be available to do so. But one of the things that I would like to do with my daughter like when she was one year and then five years old and then ten years old is to keep travelling to these protected areas to keep showing her how the nature should be in order to make her realise little by little how important these areas are for the whole world.

Interviewer: Optimist or pessimist?

Andreia Fanzeres: Well, I think I should be optimistic as a future mum. Yeah, I should not be pessimistic. But sometimes I range from these two extremes so it depends. For example, if we don’t come out with a very ambitious deal in Copenhagen there’s no way I could be optimistic so. Still, even when I’m pessimistic, it’s still inspires me to find a little piece of hope and continue working because I think that’s how things should be. I don't know, it’s a very difficult question indeed.

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