Super Brasil

Last night I attended the Look West Not East debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London. It was organized by Intelligence2 and featured HE Roberto Jaguaribe Brazilian Ambassador to UK, Parag Khanna and Jonathan Freedland amongst others. The speakers set out their stalls for what geopolitics will look like in the coming years. From one side of the panel we heard lots of data and seemingly irrefutable economic wisdom about the rise and rise of the Asian powers — particularly China, India and Japan. Apparently, Mandarin is now the language of choice for ambitions students and parents alike and the second largest national group at Oxford is from China. From the other side of the table it was refreshing to hear passionate support for the idea of South America’s (particularly Brazil’s) potential ascendency. The continent is one of the most important sources of commodities in the world. It also boasts huge water reserves, agricultural might and it is the world’s lungs in the form of the Amazon rain forest. For all the impressive stats on economic growth, manufacturing and military prowess I found the points of view somewhat lacking. All in all too much boasting of power — politics, industry and scale — and not enough discussion about what makes a country or region super. Perhaps being super is born more out of culture, people, history and creativity. I’m looking forward to getting the inside track during my upcoming trip to Brazil in a couple of weeks time…

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