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|Power, certification, and the social sustainability of Brazilian bioethanol|
|Main title||Power, certification, and the social sustainability of Brazilian bioethanol|
|Subtitle||views from Brazil|
|Title variations||Biofuel certification as a tool for environmental and social sustainability : the case of the Brazilian northeast|
|No. of Pages||44 S.|
|FU dept. or institution||Proceedings of the Berlin Conferences on Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change|
|Year of publication||2010|
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|Classification (DDC)||320 Political science|
|Type of document||Speech, lecture, presentation|
|Media type or format||Text|
|Abstract||While the environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability have received plenty of attention in biofuel policies and assessment, only recently has the social ‘pillar’ gained increasing weight, as demonstrated e.g. by debates over the food vs. fuel dilemma and large vs. small-scale biofuel production. The Brazilian bioethanol programme, Proálcool, launched in 1975, provides a unique historical illustration of the challenges of reconciling social, environmental and economic objectives in the presence of striking asymmetries of power. Inequality characterises the relations both between regions – the poor Northeast and the prosperous Southeast – and between social classes in the Northeast sugarcane zone. The on-going renaissance of Brazil’s ethanol sector provides new opportunities for economic and technological development, but has also raised concerns about the potentially harmful environmental and social impacts from the expansion of sugarcane cultivation. The entry of international players into the Brazilian biofuel scene has increased competition, but has also opened up opportunities for more pro-poor policies and breaking down the entrenched power structures, notably through the pressure from international sustainability certification schemes.
This paper will examine the prospects and challenges facing biofuel sustainability certification in promoting social and environmental sustainability in Brazil, with particular attention to the country’s Northeast region. By examining the recent Brazilian debate concerning certification – including official positions by authorities, statements by various stakeholders, and the broader media debate – the paper identifies the key challenges of sustainability certification in the light of its often mutually contradicting objectives. The focus will be on interactions and tensions between four such objectives: ensuring biofuel sustainability at the global level; promoting innovation towards the supposedly more sustainable ‘next generation’ biofuels; supporting Brazil’s economic and commercial ambitions as part of its ‘ethanol diplomacy’; and promoting social justice. The paper will conclude by recommendations concerning ways to overcome the challenges.
|Author's comments||E5: Impacts of Certification and Effectiveness|
|Created at||11.11.2010 - 16:32:57|
|Last changed||16.11.2010 - 15:10:06|