Infrastructure in Brazil: How to achieve territorial governance

Policy brief and operational guidance

Large scale infrastructure projects, such as highways, railways, hydroelectric power plants, together with large-scale mining investments in Brazil underpin the national development strategy of growth, targeted on commodities exports to global markets. However, these investments are historically marked by socio-environmental conflicts. Projects are invariably planned, implemented and measured according to sector-based expectations or national macroeconomic goals. Little or no connection remains to local demands and contexts. The outcome is often the violation of rights, the loss of socioeconomic opportunities and restraints on sustainable livelihoods and natural resources. A territorial approach for such investments would pursue an integrated vision and a more effective path to achieve long-lasting sustainable development goals.

The initiative Large-Scale Projects in the Amazon – Lessons Learned and Guidelines (hereafter, Guidelines) sheds light on lessons learned and recommendations for public policy and business practices so that a new relationship between large-scale projects and the hosted territories in the Brazilian Amazon can be established. Led from 2015 to 2018 by the Center for Sustainability Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGVces) and the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), this initiative engaged over 470 people representing 180 institutions. The initiative sought to overcome the absence of widespread integrated mechanisms that enable learning from the past in order to avoid repeating mistakes.

The launch of the guidelines in 2017, and the revised version in 2018, immediately raised ‘how to’ questions. How to implement the compiled guidelines into a real territory, in a real infrastructure implementation context? How to transform general guidelines into strategic and practical actions?

With the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the Emerging Market Sustainability Dialogues on Sustainable Infrastructure (EMSD) network, between 2018 and 2019 the FGVces team discussed among key actors the pathway to implement the guidelines in practice. The team exercised the design of practical intervention models for certain territories for the business sector, discussed with different sectors of public management, and exchanged ideas and lessons learned with academic institutions. The results were gathered in a policy brief presented in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

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