10:30 - 11:00 – Opening
Professor Denise Pires de Carvalho (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rector)
Professor Jerson Lima (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, President of FAPERJ)
Professor Carlos Frederico Leão da Rocha (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Vice-Rector)
Professor Denise Freire (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Study)
Professor Tatiana Roque (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Coordinator - Fórum of Science and Culture)
11:00 - 12:30 – Panel 1: The Post-COVID-19 World: Trends and Challenges
Presentation: Ana Célia Castro (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Director of the Brazilian College of High Studies (CBAE / Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Moderator: Leonardo Burlamaqui (State University of Rio de Janeiro, Levy Economics Institute
Jan Kregel (Director of Research, Levy Economics Institute, New York)
Jayati Ghosh (University of Massachusetts Amherstand School of Social Sciences)
Yochai Benkler (Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University Law School)
Emerging in January–February 2020, the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed huge parts of the planet in weeks. It not only infected the population, but injected a gargantuan dose of uncertainty into the global system. In that regard, as in many others, it is a phenomenon without precedent. At the present time, January 2021, we are witnessing, simultaneously, a health crisis, an economic crisis, and aggravated social and political polarization, as well as a crisis of global governance, cooperation, and trust.
As mentioned above, the Desirable Tomorrows conference will take place within this turbulent environment, and it will have as its main goal the discussion of alternatives for our current multiple discontents. Both knowns and unknowns abound, but one fact is certain: we live in troubled times. Few would dispute that. But as Schumpeter remarked way back in 1927, ‘the disagreement is about how to interpret that’. Thus, the conference’s forthcoming presentations and debates must address not only the problems the world faces and their sources, but also the disagreements on how to fix them.
Ideally, the bold thematic arch of the planned panels will have some sort of analytical framework within which the panels will be linked. This will provide participants with much-needed help, both in terms of understanding connections and establishing interdisciplinary bridges, but also in terms of conceiving policy and institutional reform alternatives.
In that regard, as Nancy Fraser has aptly put it, the thought of Karl Polanyi affords a promising starting point for the task at hand. His way of conceptualizing the dynamics of capitalism was both interdisciplinary and multilayered. The Polanyian ‘fictitious commodities’ lens allows us to distinguish at minimum a triple dimension in our own unfolding ‘Great Transformation’.
The present crisis consists of a profound economic contraction coupled with unemployment, hunger, financial instability, and debt expansion almost everywhere; an ecological dimension encompassing global warming, worsening pollution, resource exhaustion, and new forms of bio commodification that penetrate nature’s very core; and a social dimension shown by devastated neighborhoods, increasing inequalities, deaths of despair, an already deep immigration crisis, and the rapid rise of a precariat produced by the AI and robot revolution.
This has opened up a huge window for ‘political counter movements’ of a left- and especially right-wing nature. Politically, we are confronting a very unusual blending of a ‘Revolt of the masses’ (Ortega y Gasset) with a ‘Revolt of the Elites’ (Lasch). Moreover, this political Frankenstein has been equipped, by the big tech social media platforms and television networks, with both the instruments and the echo chamber to become a global mass movement.
In that regard, the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, will remain as an almost unthinkable stain in US history forever. But the nonviolent German far-right protesters that surrounded Germany’s Parliament in August should not be underplayed. In sum, the socio-political scaffolding of western capitalism may be at stake. And the term ‘western’ is critical here. It adds a geopolitical dimension to the current crisis.
It’s becoming clear that there is a growing east-west divide on multiple fronts, from state capacity to economic resilience, to social trust and behavior, and with regard to political leadership. Not only is US hegemony is waning and China unmistakably on the rise, but the trust in both western liberalism and liberal democracy itself is under siege.
These are the key themes and questions that must be tackled if we want to come up with feasible visions and workable policy proposals to build up Desirable Tomorrows. Since our present situation is far being tolerable, not to mention ‘Desirable Tomorrow’, the conference aims to be a noteworthy event in this much needed and global discussion.
Moderator: Luiz Davidovich (Brazilian Academy of Science)
Catherine Rhodes (The Center for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge University)
Martin Rees (The Center for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge University)
Mathieu Baudin (Institut des Futurs Souhaitables, Paris)
Miguel Centeno (Princeton University, Global Systemic Risk, USA)
Sarah Cornell (Stockholm University, Principal Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden)
Thinking about the future, which has often been the province of institutes that refer to themselves as being “of the future”, is hardly a novel undertaking. However, its strategic mission has never been so relevant, mainly for two reasons: (i) the increasing understanding of the risks presented by the abuse of the planet and the inequality between and within nations, sources of new pandemics, economic instability, social upheaval, and dramatic climate change; (ii) the emergence of surprising scientific and technological trends, the dimensions of which are far from being known, that have helped relativize almost all of the apparent certainties. In such a context, the Sustainable Development Goals present themselves as mandatory, requiring societal change towards a more resilient and equitable human civilization, with international cooperation aimed at making the benefits of science and new technologies available to all. At issue are the replacement of recent dominant technologies and the possible applications of artificial intelligence, the energy matrix transition, the future of work, the organization of life in cities, patterns of food production and consumption, services, and therapies linked to the frontiers of biology and medicine. Universities, as privileged loci of research, debate, and intellectual cooperation, should be prepared to cope with these challenges and uncertainties, which must be dealt with in a multidisciplinary way. The post-pandemic scenarios underscore the question that organizes this Conference: how can the ‘desirable’ and the ‘possible’ tomorrows be cross-fertilized?
Martin Rees, founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, begins his contribution to the debate by asking: ‘Today’s young people can expect to live to the end of the century. So how can they ensure that humanity’s collective actions don’t by then trigger a “tipping point” that creates a depleted biosphere? And that ever more powerful technologies–bio, cyber, and AI—open up a benign future without threatening catastrophic downsides? And those persistent extreme inequalities—both within and between countries—don’t lead to a fractured and unjust global society? The stakes are higher than ever before; what happens this century could resonate for thousands of years’. Existential risks are not only related to ‘Humanity in a cosmic perspective’; they exist in relation to the ‘posthuman future’, or in the form of dangers such as climate change, nuclear terror, or biothreats. Just as serious is the risk posed by the current concentration of global wealth in the hands of the One Percent, pointing to the necessity of redistributing that wealth across the planet. ‘Failure to respond to this humanitarian imperative, which nations have the power to remedy, surely casts doubt on any claims of institutional moral progress’.
Miguel Centeno (founder of the Global Systemic Risk Research Community, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies) brings to the debate the concept of resilience that ‘has migrated from engineering and ecology into all disciplines. At its core, resilience refers to the capacity of any system—a human body, a city, a tropical forest, a building—to recover from failures and/or continue functioning despite disruptions or shocks. Resilience is a combination of two general qualities: resistance or ability to remain the same; and flexibility, or the ability to change enough to survive even if in a different form’. Exploring the intertwining of both dimensions, Centeno reinforces the concept of the interdependence of a connected world and the importance of polity and policies to survive the threats and manage the trade-offs that loom in the post-COVID world. ‘There is, in short, no Planet B’.
The role of universities and academia as ‘key places for the growth and dissemination of knowledge’ and the form the universities of the future will take the main concerns of Catherine Rhodes (executive director of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, and senior research associate with the Biosecurity Research Initiative at St Catharine’s College, BioRISC). In the context of addressing global risks, and understanding the intersection and combination of risks stemming from technologies and those stemming from governance (or lack of it), international governance is a necessary dimension. Universities and academia are part of this international governance: ‘Academia is ahead of many other sectors, and of most governments, in international collaborative work to address global challenges, but we can still do more to advance our collective capacity and inclusion in academia internationally. Our next actions also need to achieve greater engagement with efforts to address those processes that delay and obstruct contributions to addressing global risks, and help to drive the urgent changes that are needed’.
14:30–15:30 – Conference keynote – 100 Years of UFRJ – Personal Reminiscences and Outlook
Professor Kurt Wüthrich (2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Moderator: Denise Pires de Carvalho (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rector).
Round Table Discussions
The Urgency of Societal Change: Building a Sustainable and Equitable Future
Moderator: Denise Freire (Vice Rector, UFRJ, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Apostilis Koutinas, (Agricultural University of Athens, Greece)
PRINT Scholars and their narratives:
Cyntia Ely (UFRJ with The Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal–Endocrine Disruptors)
Carolina Kaminski Sanz (UFRJ with The University of Michigan, USA–Nanoparticles)
Ana Laura Cantera (UFRJ with UNTREF, Argentina–Robotic Art)
Marcellus G.F. de Moraes (UFRJ with the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA–Crystals)
Maria Fernanda dos Santos Mota (UFRJ with Monash University, Australia–Functional Fat)
Mediator: Ethel Pinheiro (PRINT Coordinator)
Anna Rubbo (Center for Sustainable Urban Development, Columbia University – Carpe Diem)
Lilian Balmant Emerique (UFRJ with Universidad de València, Spain – Human Rights)
Marta de Araújo Pinheiro (UFRJ with the Centre d’Études et Recherches Internacionales, France – Disasters and Risks)
César Paro (UFRJ with The University of Copenhagen, Denmark & Zanzibar University, Tanzania – Solving Zika)
Carolina Araujo (UFRJ with The University of Ottawa, Canada – Power and Justice)
Mariana Valicente Moreira (UFRJ with Arkitektskolen Aarhus, Denmark – Language, Bodies & Redefining City Spaces)
UFRJ’s Pro-internationalisation (PRINT) program
UFRJ’s Pro-internationalisation (PRINT) program serves to extend the university’s reach and impact locally and globally. We research in order to learn and teach; we generate and share knowledge locally and internationally to serve society, locally and globally. We strive for desirable tomorrows; it is our reason for being. These desirable tomorrows are based on plans made yesterday and actions taken today. This event is a chance to share and discuss our findings and to improve our knowledge. The city of Rio de Janeiro and UFRJ are globally renowned for their contributions to the promotion of health and sustainability, as exemplified by Rio-92, RIO+20, the United Nations Sustainability goals, and UNESCO’s One World One Health policy. Funding through the government’s CAPES, PRINT initiative has created the opportunity for our postgraduate programmes to collaborate domestically and to support pure and applied research that promotes sustainability internationally.
Our medical school has 200 years of experience in research and teaching doctors and nurses to deal with neglected and emerging tropical and sub-tropical diseases. UFRJ in collaboration with international partners is at the forefront of Zika, dengue, and COVID-19 research in the desire for One World One Health.
Brazil is home to the Amazon Rainforest, 25 percent of the world’s mangrove ecosystems, the Atlantic Rainforest, the Cerrado, and immense coral reefs and all of the associated biodiversity and biotechnology. UFRJ encompasses: The Botanical Gardens, The Natural History Museum, hospitals, numerous campi. Their combined research, teaching and outreach programs make UFRJ a global guardian of health, biodiversity and sustainability. In numerous partnerships with Petrobras, the university supports and promotes sustainable energy production increasing green energy component in the overall matrix. Brazil is an agricultural powerhouse and scientists at UFRJ in partnerships with Embrapa lead agriculture research in plant genetics to increase productivity and resilience to climatic change. UFRJ scholars collaborate directly with Embrapa and international partners on research to help eradicate poverty and hunger globally.
More than fifty postgraduate programmes at UFRJ answered the CAPES PRINT call, 70 percent of which are rated as international and excellent. UFRJ, in partnership with the Ministry of Education/CAPES is helping Brazil meet its scientific goals. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UFRJ has been a hub for companies and international governments to seek partnerships in order to save lives and improve disease outcomes.
PRINT will deliver increased international mobility, collaboration, visibility, quality, and impact. We are happy to share narratives of what our research staff and students have been doing with partner institutions around the world to bring about desirable tomorrows. PRINT will be presented in four sessions with six short presentations and discussion in each session. We hope you will enjoy being at the cutting edge of knowledge and international research collaboration.
Moderator: Marta Irving (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Cláudio Maretti (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Gilles Boeuf (Sorbonne University)
Jean Philippe Pierron (Université de Lyon, France)
Ricardo Abramovay (University of São Paulo)
Patrick Viveret (Institut des Futurs Souhaitables, France)
The recognition of the uncertainties and risks to human survival arising from the current model of production and consumption has been one of the central themes of contemporary debate and has also guided countless diplomatic efforts globally. This debate is being further amplified in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in a pedagogical way has illuminated, as never before, the unsustainable ways of being and existing in contemporary society. At the heart of this critical debate, the socioenvironmental agendas of climate and biodiversity have started to acquire centrality, both in terms of the philosophical ethical discussion involved, as well as the new possible economic pathways and in terms of public policies trends. Given the countless uncertainties that will need to be faced in the coming years, several questions that represent the inspiration for the roundtable discussion will guide this reflection. What are the main ethical issues that will need to be addressed in relation to the socioenvironmental agenda in the coming years? What paths must be taken to build sustainable societies? What are the main obstacles to the global affirmation of the climate and biodiversity agendas, how can they be overcome and how the agendas can be integrated? How can new standards of global governance based on the affirmation and recognition of the socioenvironmental agenda be ensured as a way to deal with the condition of policrise in contemporary times? What global strategies need to be adopted for the Green Deal and what are the possible paths to a low-carbon economy in the coming years? To what extent does the affirmation of the socioenvironmental agenda represent a safeguard and/or guarantee for the ‘Desirable Tomorrows’? These and other consequent issues will be the basis of the dialogue and the proposed reflection.
Round Table Discussions
14:00 – 15:30
Moderator: Andrew Macrae (Coordinator, Print UFRJ)
Fabio Rubio Scarano (Biology Institute, UFRJ, Brazil)
Adriana Silva Hemerly (UFRJ with VIB-University of Gent, Belgium, Fifth Industrial Revolution – Gene edited plants combating climate change to help feed the world)
Bruno Francesco Rodrigues de Oliveira (UFRJ with University College Cork, Ireland – Sponge holobionts & symbiont biodiversity)
Marina Schmoeller do Prado Rodrigues (UFRJ with The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland, Australia – Optimising rainforest conservation)
Michelle Amário (UFRJ with Penn State University, USA – Photosynthesis and coral)
Viviane Dib da Silva (UFRJ with King’s College, London University, UK – Maths and forest restoration modelling)
Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Environmental Governance—A Global Challenge and its Implications Biodiversity is at the core of most agreements set by global socioecological diplomacy. While vulnerable to human misuse and misconduct, biodiversity and ecosystems are now perceived as part of the solution to a number of planetary challenges, including climate change, desertification, disaster risk, poverty, and disease outbreaks. Brazil is a biocultural powerhouse, since it hosts the world’s largest biodiversity, which is mirrored by outstanding cultural diversity. For instance, nearly 300 indigenous languages are spoken in the country. Moreover, Brazil has a respectable track record in global diplomacy, both as the host of major United Nations sustainability conferences (e.g. Rio92, Rio+20) and as a key negotiator leading to agreements such as those reached in Nagoya (2010, Aichi Biodiversity Targets) and Paris (2015, Paris Climate Accord). However, in the past two years, the dismantling of the institutions upon which these very foundations were built is challenging Brazil’s diplomatic leadership as well as its biocultural diversity. This raises the question of ‘How sustainable is sustainability?’ The Agenda 2030 to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), from a global perspective, has reported trade-offs between biosphere (conservation on land and in the oceans, climate action, and water and sanitation) vs. social (e.g. peace and justice) and economic goals (e.g. economic growth). The internationalisation project at the Ecology Graduate Program at UFRJ was initiated to examine synergies and trade-offs between SDGs in Brazil. In this talk, I will present some of the results we have achieved so far. One of the preliminary findings is that some of the targets that SDGs address, especially the economic ones, reflect the hegemonic development viewpoint. Other cosmovisions, many of which have been put forth in Brazil, are not contemplated within the SDG. I will discuss some emerging social movements and ongoing dialogues between different types of knowledge holders in Brazil and discuss how they can be relevant to the transition towards a sustainability state that is more inclusive of different worldviews.
Moderator: Jean-Pierre Briot (CNRS-Sorbonne Université, Paris, France)
Ana Cristina Bicharra Garcia (UNIRIO, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Fabio Cozman (C4AI/USP-FAPESP-IBM, São Paulo, Brazil)
François Pachet (Spotify CTRL, Paris, France)
Priscila Machado Vieira Lima (UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Stuart Russell (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a neologism which has been invented in the mid 50s. It has recently become popular though some striking successes (such as defeating the Go world champion in 2016). New generation large scale artificial neural networks, renamed as deep learning, are now routinely used for applications such as face monitoring, language translation and weather prediction. This undisputable success has led some scientists or journalists to make prophecies about the era of the machine (singularity) or the end of theory in science (data correlation is enough). However, current technology is still very specialized and little adaptive. Also, data-based inductive methods do not lead alone to causal reasoning, necessary to answer “what if” questions. It is also important to reassess that the future of AI is more about collaboration with humans rather that competition with them (for instance, a radiologist assisted with AI-based pattern recognition software leads to a better performance than the sole human radiologist or the sole AI software). Paradoxically, most challenges for AI-human collaboration come from the unpredictable behavior of humans (roads would be safer if all vehicles would be autonomous).
The objective of this panel is to discuss some challenges about the introduction of AI in our human society, such as, e.g., collaboration, ethics, acceptation, limits. One cultural challenge to facilitate acceptance of AI is to be able to deconstruct some myths about artificial intelligence for the public. Another one is to imagine guidelines for a smooth cooperation between humans and artificial entities (software or robots). Various ethical as well as legal issues need also to be revisited and adapted to new situations. Last, the progress of AI as well as of neurosciences also leads to reconsider some of the characteristics of humans, such as intelligence and creativity.
The panel includes several AI experts and will be structured around a few mini-debates about such examples of open questions.
Moderator: Adalberto Vieyra (UFRJ)
Tais Hanae Kasai Brunswick (UFRJ/Cenabio)
Roberto Giugliani (UFRGS)
Stevens Rehen (UFRJ)
Tiago Outeiro (University of Gottingen, Germany)
Fernando Bozza (FIOCRUZ)
Antonio Carlos Campos de Carvalho (UFRJ)
Frontiers in Biotechnology and Medicine
The text below summarizes the reflections and the central points that will presented by our speakers next May 25.
Antonio Carlos Campos de Carvalho presents a general view regarding the avenues that biotechnology has opened and the challenges that lie ahead. Biotechnology has seen unprecedented progress in this millennium. The appropriation of omic technologies (genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and lipidomic) and the development of new methods to interpret and analyze massive amounts of data has increased our understanding of the mechanisms of disease and greatly expanded our capacity to develop new therapies for previously untreatable diseases. Genome editing has already reached the clinic for hematological diseases and should soon be available for most monogenic diseases. In agriculture, genetic manipulation of crops and herds will allow unimaginable productivity increments, rendering the task to feed an increasing population with decreasing crop and pasture areas possible. But biotechnology needs also to provide the preservation of our natural resources and equitable benefits to all countries and peoples of the world. In these challenges lie our “desirable tomorrows”.
Roberto Giugliani proceeds showing the possibilities of gene therapy worldwide and in Brazil. Thirty years after its first successful use in humans, gene therapy seems to be finally emerging as a practical treatment tool, not only for genetic disorders, but also to cancer, infectious diseases and other conditions. The main achievements which are enabling gene therapy to gain momentum are the technological advances derived from intensive research in animal models and the development of a new generation of viral vectors for effective gene transfer. Depending on the particularities of the condition to be treated and objectives of the gene therapy to mitigate the disease, specific in vivo and ex vivo approaches have been developed. Brazil is participating in international multicenter gene therapy trials, showing that we already have conditions to use this therapeutic tool. However, the lack of systematic investment in Brazilian laboratories for research and development of gene therapy may leave our country mostly as an interesting market, and not as the important player it deserves to be.
But the desirable tomorrows will find a world with an aging population, and Tiago Outeiro offers an optimistic view of an aged world. The aging of the human population, and the consequent increase in prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders and other age-associated conditions, the global warming and the detrimental effect of humans on environment, is unveiling significant medical challenges that need to be addressed. Biotechnology, a field that has witnessed tremendous technological advances, promises to open novel perspectives not only for diagnosing and treating devastating diseases, but also for solving important needs of modern human societies. We must act consciously, responsibly, and in a concerted manner in order to continue to extend human life while, at the same time, ensure the sustainability of our planet. This will be the only way to ensure that mankind can, one day, explore new worlds beyond our planet and even beyond our solar system.
Finally, Fernando Bozza tells us what we learned from the pandemic. The recent pandemic of COVID-10 brought rapid incorporation of new technologies, foreseen for the near future, in the direction to the present. A clear example is in health care: the inclusion of new devices, apps, or algorithms in concrete actions related to the surveillance or the care of patients with COVID. Under the broad denomination of Digital Health includes mobile health, telemedicine, and health information technologies, among others. We will present some national and international experiences of innovation in Digital Health applied to COVID and discuss lessons learned and challenges for its broader and more equitable application for the Brazilian population in the future.
Round Table Discussions
Frontiers in Biotechnology and Medicine
Moderator: Fernanda Abreu (CCS/UFRJ Coordinator of Biotechnology Research)
Opening Speaker: Alex Prast (Linkoping University, Sweden)
Amanda Staudt (UFRJ with University of Greifswald, Germany – Green pharmaceuticals)
Kamilla Guimaraes (UFRJ with National Institute of Health (NIH) Bethesda, MD, USA – Immunology and lung inflammation)
Miriele Verza (UFRJ with Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal – Tuberculosis and bioinformatics)
Romário Matos (UFRJ with University of Minnesota – New Anti-virals for SARS-CoV-2, dengue, and Zika)
Tereza Cristina Santos Evangelista (UFRJ with University of Stavanger, Norway and Universidad de Sevilla, Spain – New drugs for Alzheimer’s)
Moderator: Adilson de Oliveira (UFRJ)
Gordon Mackerron (Professor of Science and Technology Policy, Business School, University of Sussex)
Roberto Schaeffer (Programa de Planejamento Energético, COPPE, Brazil)
Rainer Quitzow (IASS, Potsdam, Germany)
Mediator: Adilson de Oliveira (UFRJ)
David G. Victor (Center for Global Transformation, University of San Diego, USA; Co-director, Laboratory on International Law and Regulation)
Rafaela Guedes (CEBRI Senior Fellow and Petrobrás)
Segen Estefen (COPPE, Brazil)
The Industrial Revolution marked a rupture in humanity’s relations with nature. Initially supported by the steam engine and later by turbines and engines, the Industrial Revolution centered life in the intensive use of fossil fuel stocks accumulated by nature. The abundant supply of these exhaustible natural resources became a decisive factor in the expansion of the industrial system.
The first political economy analysts of the Industrial Revolution perceived the availability of natural resources as a constraint to expanding the industrial system. Malthus indicated that the physical limits of land would stop industrialisation in the long run. Ricardo pointed out that the rents of the terratenientes would stop the capital accumulation. Marx saw in the accumulation of capital the germ of the destruction of the industrial system’s institutional framework.
Despite these initial warnings, the industrial system advanced for more than two centuries with no natural-resource barrier to its expansion. The concern with the depletion of natural resources gained traction only in the 1970s, when the periphery of the industrial system limited access to their stocks of oil reserves. Nuclear energy has been deployed to overcome the risk of depleting the planet’s fossil fuel resources. However, its promise was aborted by the environmental and geopolitical problems associated with its widespread use. The debate evolved into two contrasting analytical approaches.
For some, the limitations of natural resources can be overcome with technological innovations that increase the quantity of scarce natural resources or replace them with abundant alternatives. Others have pointed out that the industrial system’s expansion is not limited by the availability of resources but by the political economy divide it promotes.
The debate on the limits to expanding the industrial system gained new stature after the risk of global warming was identified. More recently, this risk has been compounded by the increasing social disparity induced by the industrial system.
To overcome these risks, humanity has to establish a new dialogue with nature. The energy transition from fossil stocks (EF) to renewable energy flows (RE) is an important building block of this new dialogue. The reconfiguration of the industrial system’s value chains around RE will induce new business models, which must be socially just and environmentally sustainable. Changes in consumption habits and social behaviors will strengthen local communities in the hierarchy of the industrial system.
The development of an energy system based on EF has been a central force in Brazilians’ socioeconomic improvements in the last seventy years. Nevertheless, the Brazilian transition to RE started right after the oil crisis of the 1970s. Economic and regulatory incentives were offered for innovations to drive the replacement of fossil fuels stocks by ER. The identification of vast hydrocarbon reservoirs on the Brazilian continental shelf reoriented the Brazilian energy transition, however. The insertion of domestic oil resources into the global economy has dominated recent Brazilian energy policy.
Complex, multidimensional, and full of uncertainties, the energy transition is fundamentally dictated by the population’s behavior and habits. They result from a myriad of social and technological innovations that require a profound reorganization of the industrial system’s productive chains. This process will be carried out in stages, induced by relative prices and government regulations.
The Brazilian energy transition has already passed its first stage. Several productive niches in the industrial system were able to exploit the social and environmental benefits of RE. However, the supply of fossil fuels continues to be protected with subsidies and regulations that thwart RE’s spread in the Brazilian economy. Removing these barriers is essential to accelerating the energy transition, but it faces strong political opposition from entrenched economic interests.
The Energy Transition seminar intends to explore the social, economic, technological, and geopolitical challenges of the Brazilian energy transition. It will examine the following topics:
1. Opportunities and challenges for the energy transition
i. Current geopolitical context: role of the state
ii. Regional comparative advantages
2. Economic instruments for environmental management
i. Global carbon tax
ii. Environmental criteria in global business transactions
iii. Subsidies and incentives
3. Effects of the coronavirus crisis on the energy transition
i. Consumption habits
ii. Future of globalization
4. Technological cooperation for the energy transition
i. Green energy deal
ii. Climate agreement
Moderator: Leonardo Burlamaqui (State University of Rio de Janeiro, Levy Economics Institute)
Andre Lara Resende (Investment Banker and former President of BNDES)
Kevin Gallagher (Professor of Global Development Policy; Director, Global Development Policy Center)
Mariana Mazzucato (Director of the Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose, University College London).
The ongoing pandemic-related turmoil has raised several red flags for countries, states, business, social organization, and politics. The coming challenges are sizable. However, this multilayered crisis has also sparked a whole set of opportunities for rebuilding our natural, social, and economic environment. The Biden presidency slogan ‘Building Back Better’ captures that goal appropriately. Building on the previous discussions, the conference’s closing panel will try to lay out some of tasks ahead.
First and foremost, the ongoing ‘vaccine nationalism’ has to be avoided and reversed if we want to get to a set of ‘Tomorrows’ better than our present, and previous, days. Additionally, climate change initiatives have to attain a higher level of commitment, as reflected in scientific research, innovations, and investments by all stakeholders, especially the richest countries. The accelerating tech war between the USA and China has to be addressed within a frame of mutual understanding instead of the current ‘blame it on the other side’ attitude. Advances in biotech and telemedicine deserve global dissemination.
The current revision of public macro-financial constraints in order to fund the multiple reconstructions ahead—the debunking of the public-debt hysteria as well as the ‘benefits of austerity’—must solidify; but at the same time, the implications of ‘free money’ and growing private debt for financial fragilisation should not be underplayed. The threat of a ‘world without work’ can arguably be labeled as an exaggeration, but the proliferation of ‘gig economies’, worsening work conditions, and growing inequalities is already in place. The current libertine interaction between politics and social media needs a fundamental revision.
In sum, if we’re aiming towards ‘Desirable Tomorrows’, the agenda in front of us is extremely complex and filled with ‘unknown unknowns’. Genuine progress will demand massively improved international cooperation as well as a much higher level of state involvement. On that front it is worth recalling Daniel Bell’s sharp comment that ‘the Nation State has become too small for the big problems of life, and too big for the small problems of life’, which translates as the need for not only a higher level of state involvement, but also a very different set of state capabilities and social embeddedness. Looking ahead, Gramsci’s ‘pessimism of the Intellect coupled with the optimism of the Will’ will surely have to take a front seat. The conference’s goal is to touch on some of these issues and, hopefully, spark a cluster of initiatives headed for building a better, desirable future.
17:00 - 19:00
FOBREAV MEETING (Brazilian University Based Institutes for Advanced Studies/Fórum Brasileiro de Estudos Avançados)
Moderator: Ana Célia Castro (Colégio Brasileiro de Altos Estudos, UFRJ)
Guilherme Ary Plonski (IEA/USP)
Aldo Ângelo Lima (CEA Vice-Director)
Estevam Barbosa de Las Casas (Instituto de Estudos Transdisciplinares/UFMG)
Ivo da Silva Júnior (IEAC-UNIFESP)
James Humberto Zomighani Junior (IMEA-Unila)
José Raimundo Carvalho (CEA Director)
Maria Lúcia Formigoni (IEAC-UNIFESP)
Viviane de Melo Resende (CEAM/UnB)