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Interview: UN 2030 Agenda in Brazil

Julia Dias

On August 28th, the national secretary of Social Articulation, Henrique Villa, was at Fiocruz to attend Sala de Convidados (Guest Room) show, in Canal Saúde(Fiocruz Open Channel on Health). The show discussed implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda in Brazil. Villa is currently the executive secretary of the National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  The committee, composed of eight government members and eight civil society members, with their respective deputies, is the most senior level of the 2030 Agenda in Brazil and is advised by Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - Ipea (Institute for Applied Economic Research) and Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics). 

While attending the show, the secretary also addressed AFN (Fiocruz News Agency) about the progress of the Agenda in Brazil. Villa believes that a change in government after this year’s elections will not impair the work of the committee. “This commitment is reaffirmed by a group of Brazilian social players; therefore, it’s not a specific process followed by one government or by governments, but by the entire Brazilian society. This is not a government agenda, it’s a State agenda”, he claimed. 

AFN: Brazil played a crucial role in creating the 2030 Agenda. How far did the country go regarding implementation of this agenda?

Henrique Villa: We have also considered three implementation steps for the 2030 Agenda. In the negotiation step, Brazil played a leading role. Our Ministry of Foreign Relations worked very had since 2012 to brainstorm all Brazilian ideas and challenges for the global agenda. The 2030 Agenda has a very strong “Brazilian fingerprint”. Two other steps are being followed now: the internalization step, when the global agenda lands and is taken over by the country; and the interiorization step, when the agenda reaches territories, i.e. the states and municipalities.

As for the internalization step, three key phases are being deployed now. We have the target suitability process, where each target is reviewed and adjusted according to the Brazilian reality. We have the governance consolidation process. Remembering that governance is crucial for the leap. It’s necessary to have a committee in place, proper advice has to be given to the committee, it’s necessary to have a very strong communication channel, which is Brazil SDGs Platform and It’s necessary to have a set of structures that support the leap. Therefore, this internalization step is governance-oriented, it includes target adjustment and monitoring by indicators, which represents IBGE contribution. You take over the global agenda and transforms it into the Brazilian agenda. We are now talking about the Brazilian Agenda.

However, an effective implementation process does not rely on good governance only, you have to reach the states and, above all, the municipalities. Everything takes place at the territory level. It is the interiorization or the localization step of the 2030 Agenda, which represents an additional challenge to a country of continental proportions like Brazil. Which additional challenge? Reaching territories and helping mayors and governors understand their crucial role in this path until 2030. In Brazil, this is not something trivial because of social inequality. Some states and municipalities are able to understand it and can accept our invitation to the 2030 agenda; other states and, especially, municipalities, are completely unable to do it. We have to call them specifically, provide local governance, team training, product supply where they can see themselves as leading players in the process. We have a menu of offers to enable states and municipalities to take part in the effort.

AFN: During Sala de Convidados show, you mentioned the Brazilian population is not familiarized with the 2030 Agenda. Only 11% of Brazilians know the agenda and approximately 1% of the population work towards it. However, citizen participation is fundamental. Which strategies did the committee implement to engage the population?

Henrique Villa: The challenge of making the 2030 Agenda known is not a challenge faced by Brazil only. By talking with our colleagues from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries, we see there is a communication gap regarding the Agenda in most of the countries. However, this is more serious in Brazil, a country of continental proportions. We insist this is everyone’s agenda, we insist no one should be left behind. Every single Brazilian plays a leading role in the Agenda. However, to effectively play a leading role in the Agenda, you need to be familiarized with it, and we have a huge communication gap here. For this reason, I’m now working to make the Brazilian population familiarized with it. We have a communication plan in the pipeline, ready to be offered to the Brazilian society, but we want to stratify it. Children, adolescents, and those at home taking care of domestic chores should be addressed differently. Scholars, researchers and business owners should also be addressed differently.

Therefore, we’ll have a basic communication plan, which, like I said, should be ready soon, and it will be offered to Brazilians. The Federal Government will be part of it, with the Communication Office of the Presidential Staff being in charge of such communication, but each partner is responsible for their share. That’s why governance is crucial. It's a joint communication effort. We want all Brazilians to understand the opportunities an agenda of this kind can offer to their reality, their families and their communities.

AFN: And in your opinion, what role does Fiocruz play in this process?

Henrique Villa: Fiocruz has partnered with the committee in the governance structure of the committee, in thematic divisions of the committee. Fiocruz as a research, production, human resources qualification institution, as an institution that provides cutting-edge health solutions, and that somehow follows the process in Brazil, plays a fundamental role. It's a world-class institution. This is a State initiative and an initiative of this kind cannot be undertaken without Fiocruz. I believe events like this one promoted by Canal Saúde are extremely interesting and vitally important. It's a fundamental action of involving a world-class institution in an effort that belongs to us all. And Fiocruz brings that, it brings expertise, but also seriousness to such a considerable challenge faced by Brazil.

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