Robert Walker pens periodic column for Interesse Nacional

Publication gives platform to reach Brazilian audience, in Portuguese, on Amazonian conservation issues

Robert Walker pens periodic column for Interesse Nacional

May 6, 2024

Since March 2023, Center professor Robert Walker has published a regular column in the Brazilian digital publication Revista Interesse Nacional. Over the course of eleven articles, Dr. Walker has written on Amazonian conservation, tackling topics like deforestation, Indigenous rights, hydroelectric power, and Chinese investment in the Amazon, among others.

This endeavor is motivated by Dr. Walker’s self-avowed commitment to an absolute conservation in the Amazon, and a passion to raise warnings about what he calls “a tipping point,” whereby the sprawling ecosystem would undergo a level of destruction beyond the possibility of recovery. This would portend global ramifications as well as regional, given the prominence of the Amazon rainforest in the earth’s ecosystem. “If people genuinely want to have a forest there past the 21st century, there's going to have to be dramatic action taken,” Dr. Walker advises. “I'm always writing with that sense of emergency.”

Given the complexity and urgency of the challenge, there’s no shortage of topics for Dr. Walker to cover in his column. One guiding touchstone is the upcoming COP30 conference, which will take place in November 2025 in Belém, Brazil (notable for its location at the gateway of the Amazon River). The conference is the annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together governments and other sectors to create global milestones for climate action. Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has shown enthusiasm for Brazil hosting the climate conference within the Amazon, and even announced a plan to eliminate deforestation in the country by 2030 during the COP27 conference in 2022.

“He's making a really big global gesture about his environmental credentials,” said Dr. Walker of Lula da Silva’s pronouncements. “But it's still unclear how he plans to act on them.” One of Dr. Walker’s articles in Interesse Nacional, aptly titled “Promessas, promessas, promessas,” from May 2023, expresses this exact drive to call attention to meaningful climate action beyond political promises. Going forward, he hopes to lay out talking points and arguments about Amazonian conservation in the lead-up to COP30 next year.

The opportunity to publish regular columns, in Portuguese, for a Brazilian audience, is not one that Dr. Walker takes lightly. “Given how critical the situation is, and how important this kind of outreach is now, it’s tremendous to be able to speak to Brazilians about it,” he shares. “I guess my only hope is that it won't be discounted because it’s coming from outside the country.”

According to Interesse Nacional's Executive Editor Daniel Buarque, inviting international authors to their roster of regular contributors helps fulfill the publication’s mission of discussing Brazil’s role in international politics. “We believe that it is important to understand the foreign perception towards the country, and so we value contribution from international contributors that can break away from Brazil's self image,” Dr. Buarque explains. “International contributors are able to see what is happening in the country without the pressure of political polarization of the country and to offer an objective assessment.”

The publication, which is not connected to any political party nor has any affiliation, emphasizes a strong focus on the defense of democracy and the importance of environmental diplomacy. “Professor Walker is an expert in Brazil's environmental politics and brings a lot of knowledge in that area, helping our audience understand what is going on in Brazil as well as how the country's actions are perceived from abroad,” says Dr. Buarque. ◆

Read all of Dr. Walker's columns (in Portuguese):

Share this story