Environmental policy therefore seems to be the most promising strategy for Brazil’s international posture. This approach can position Brazil at the center of a debate between industrial and developing countries and allow for technological advancement and economic development within the boundaries of natural diversity. The central task for this redirection of Brazilian foreign policy would be to reinvigorate the Brazilian Development Agency as well as the departments at the Foreign Ministry that deal with climate change, the environment, and the respective international organizations.
All three contributors explicitly or implicitly see climate diplomacy as an opportunity for Brazil to re-establish itself as a serious player in the international realm. This is closely connected to Brazil’s main diplomatic asset that has suffered severely in recent years: soft power. This requires creating an international perception of Brazil that lends itself to acting as a role model or at least a reliable partner.
The crucial point in this attempted renewal of Brazilian foreign policy is that it largely depends on domestic factors. In this sense, the contributions lend themselves to constructivist or liberal interpretations of Brazil’s role in the world: climate diplomacy as an expression of Brazil’s responsibility to protect natural resources for a global good (Teixeira).
What seems to be missing is an interest-guided strategic objective for Brazil’s climate diplomacy. Or, in other words: soft power for what? The answer, again, can be found by looking at domestic issues. At times when Brazil was considered a global player, domestic policy was guided by ideas of the developmental state, the implicit or explicit strategic goal of the state to develop the national economy, national capabilities, and elevate the standard of living in the country. This was the overarching strategic goal towards which all policy, including foreign policy and climate diplomacy, aligned.
In a region of the world that has been spared of major wars in the past century, with stable neighborhood arrangements, and overall high levels of interstate security, the Brazil can – and probably has to – afford defining realist goals that go beyond security. Brazil’s decline in global influence demonstrates the vicious circle that occurs once policy lacks an active agenda. National development, aided by soft power and climate action, could inspire such an agenda. But as the contributors to the diplomacy section of the “Brazilian Voices on the Road to COP-26” project elaborate, domestic factors play a major role in the country’s ability to re-position itself. In this sense, the road to Glasgow must connect to Brasilia.
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