Here I am at Rio’s main bus station “Rodoviaria” Novo Rio on my way to Sao Paulo with the objective to develop strategies for the growth of sustainable events in Brazil and Australia. After an inspiring meeting with Meegan Jones from Green Shoot Pacific and the Australian representative for the elaboration of the new ISO 20121, the next step now, will be meeting with Leticia Menger the Brazilian representative of the Sustainable Event Alliance together with Meegan in an attempt to tackle the immense task of greening the upcoming mega events planned for Brazil. (The 2014 FIFA World Cup and The Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games)
I have to say that the new “Rodoviaria” with its polished granite floors, free Wi-Fi (not working at the moment for some reason… maybe they don’t have the service in the early hours of the morning) looks much better since my last time here and in comparison with Tom Jobim Airport is in much better shape.
After two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, I’m still not used to the “new” Rio. Not that is all bad. It is actually better in many ways. People seem prouder about the place, construction is going on all over the city creating infrastructure for what is coming, but the down side are the European prices on everything. Food, rentals, real state, clothing and so forth. Sometimes feels like the Wild West, where people see the possibilities and everyone wants a piece of the action at whatever cost…weird.
For somebody who left Brazil more than 20 years ago mainly for economic reasons, to see all that happening is quite a change. Sometimes I wonder if this bubble will burst or if it’s a definite pathway for the nation’s development.
I arrived in Sao Paulo on rush hour after 6 or 7 hours and the scenery changed completely. The mountains and ocean views are replaced by a horizon of buildings and smog and you can feel the change in air quality.
From the efficient main bus station I get into the metro and it’s quite scary. The crowd is enormous and I miss the first train going in the direction I needed to go, due to overcrowded carriages. I squeezed in the next one which I’d decided to go at any cost and after half an hour later I arrived at Saci Hostel where I was greeted by Leticia Menger, the Brazilian representative of the Sustainable Event Alliance (SEA). She is a warm and friendly lady and we head out for breakfast. As we go via Avenida Paulista (Paulista Av.), the main economic artery in Brazil’s booming economy, the contrasts are visible. Helicopters are landing on top of buildings everywhere and on the street you can see beggars scattered about. The food however is delicious and sipping fruit juices we start to talk about the event scene in Brazil.
Leticia is a well-spoken and dynamic event organiser well connected and engaged in many different projects, aiming now to produce them in a sustainable way. She tells me about some of her events and my impression is that she really knows what she’s talking about and she seems overloaded with work. To initiate the works for the SEA, she tells me that she won’t be able to do everything by herself and is looking for someone to share the load. I offer the services of Climate Wave and we brain storm the possibilities.
Later in the day Meegan Jones, the Australian CEO of the SEA and Green Shoot Pacific arrives and after a little while we are discussing and thinking about what strategies will be required for the implementation of SEA in Brazil.
We arrive back at the hostel and the talks vary in themes, but not in subject. The idea that I start to grasp is that there is plenty do be done here and very few people in the country who know the path to get there. I see that as an incredible opportunity for Climate Wave Enterprises and offer my knowledge and assistance for the development of these ideas.
The next day we engage in more talks and we go out to this city precinct where they have a mega market located in an old building, with food, spices and fruits of all sorts. Next to it, you see many other buildings where you can buy electronic and computer equipment, clothing, etc. We stroll around amidst the huge crowds (living on the Gold Coast for so long I’m not used to that anymore) and by the end of our little tour, we take Leticia to her destination and we part ways. The atmosphere is great and the sense of the work ahead gives me confidence that sustainability of events is something that will be developed in Brazil. The country is still taking baby steps in this area but nevertheless it is walking in the right direction.
On the way back Meegan and I talked more about the development of the SEA in Australia and how we could take the sustainable event management course for professionals placed in New South Wales to Queensland. At the moment the NSW government gives financial subsidies and incentives for the courses taught in this state and we would like to see that happening Australia wide.
Hours later I hop on another bus this time going to Aeroporto Vira Copos (Viracopos airport) in Campinas, a booming city in Sao Paulo’s interior. My destination now is Praia do Forte (The “Fortress” Beach) in the Northeast state of Bahia, local of two of the most successful conservation programs in Brasil. The Projeto Tamar (marine turtle conservation) and Instituto Baleia Jubarte (the Humpback Whale Institute). My intentions now are to meet with one of my best friends from Brazil, Enrico Marcovaldi and to check the harmony between the conservation programs and the tourist development of this now international beach resort town.