Blog: Recovery from Crisis: Brazilian public health and environment reflections
IGDC Member João Nunes chaired our recent webinar on Recovery from Crisis and shares details of this fascinating event where he was joined by guest speakers from the University of São Paulo and University of Campinas
IGDC Member João Nunes (Senior Lecturer/International Relations Department of Politics) chaired our recent webinar on Recovery from Crisis and shares details of this fascinating event where he was joined by guest speakers from the University of São Paulo and University of Campinas
On 16 May 2022, the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre (IGDC) hosted the webinar “How to recover from crises? Reflections on the Brazilian public health and environmental disasters”. This webinar is part of the IGDC webinar series on Recovery from Crises. I was pleased to chair this event and honoured to be joined by: Gabriela di Giulio, Associate Professor in the Environmental Health Department of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and Visiting Researcher in York’s Department of Politics in 2021-22; Marko Monteiro, Associate Professor in the Science and Technology Policy Department, University of Campinas, Brazil; and Jean Paul Metzger, Professor at the Department of Ecology, University of São Paulo. This resulted in very interesting and eclectic discussions around the topic of crisis recovery in Brazil and more globally. It highlighted the importance of adequate mobilisation of risk management, the role of scientific expertise and its relation to political institutions, and the importance of the relationship between humans and the “more than human” world.
The webinar is now available to Watch on the IGDC YouTube Channel
The Covid-19 pandemic, which emerged against the background of the ongoing climate emergency, has contributed to the amplification of existing social vulnerabilities. However, these two concurrent crises can also be seen as opportunities to catalyse social change, foster emancipatory knowledge and accelerate transformations.
This was the starting point of this webinar, which considered the case of Brazil and reflected about its global significance. Brazil is, in many ways, a paradigmatic example of these global crises, as is demonstrated by the disastrous response on the part of the federal government to the Covid-19 pandemic, and by the rampant destruction of the Amazon and other protected biomes, such as the pantanal and the cerrado.
In her talk, Gabriela Di Giulio reflected on “how critical studies of global health and sustainability can contribute to shed light on the socio-economic and political determinants that are present in systemic crises (e.g. Covid-19, climate emergency), and how these aspects amplify vulnerabilities and suffering in Brazil”. Speaking in particular about the pandemic, she argued that “the federal government neglect of risk governance parameters, combined with an attempt to spread doubt, confusion, and mis-disinformation is an important element for interpreting the controversies of this crisis in Brazil, and its effects that went well beyond to physical injuries associated with the pandemic”.
Marko Monteiro argued that “Brazil's response to Covid illustrates a series of failures, which led to a large number of deaths, many of them avoidable”. In his view, the Covid-19 crisis “can help us to see the fragile place expertise occupies in Brazil: while having it widely available, through state institutions, in many instances policy makers and the wider political process ignored or chose to bypass existing technical advice and consensus, involving social isolation measures, treatments and vaccination”.
Finally, Jean Paul Metzger showed the extent to which “[t]he spread of zoonoses and, particularly, the spillover of pathogens from wildlife to humans depends on several factors, such as pathogen diversity and abundance, human population vulnerability, and landscape permeability to pathogen flow”. For him, “[n]ature-based solutions, in particular restoration actions, can help in controlling reservoir species and reducing landscape permeability to pathogens, and are thus relatively low-cost, effective, and persistent solutions benefiting the well-being and health of human populations”.
Overall, the discussion in this webinar highlighted several key issues pertaining to the possibilities of crisis recovery. Among them is the need for an adequate mobilization of risk governance in emergency preparedness and response; the role of scientific expertise and its relation to (strong) political institutions; and the need to rethink the relationship between humans and the “more-than-human” world.
|Featured Researcher||João Nunes|
|João Nunes joined the Department of Politics as Lecturer in International Relations in September 2014. Previously, he was a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick and a Visiting Fellow at the Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development.|