United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek arrived in Brazil on Sunday, 11 November.
Their first stop was the Santa Adélia ethanol plant, which is located in the town of Jaboticabal in the state of São Paulo. The Secretary-General toured the plant and was briefed on its activities by Marcos Jank, President of Brazil’s Sugarcane Industry Union. While at the plant, the Secretary-General spoke to reporters, saying ethanol production was one of many green technologies that showed promise in offsetting global warming. Given that Brazil was one of the few nations to successfully produce biofuels, such as ethanol, on a large scale, he added that the country was a “quiet green giant”. That evening the Secretary-General left the state of São Paulo for Brasilia, Brazil’s capital.
On Monday, 12 November, the Secretary-General met with United Nations staff at his hotel in Brasilia. He then headed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he met with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. That meeting was immediately followed by a working luncheon. In comments to reporters after the luncheon, the Secretary-General said his discussions with the President had focused on the strong partnership between the United Nations and Brazil, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change issues, and the Central Emergency Response Fund. The Secretary-General said he had commended the strong commitment and contributions of the Brazilian Government to peacekeeping operations, particularly in Haiti. The two had also discussed the holding of a high-level meeting sometime next year to galvanize political will for the early realization of the Millennium Development Goals. That afternoon, the Secretary-General left Brasilia for Belém, the capital of the state of Pará, in Brazil’s Amazon region.
In Belém, on the evening of Monday, 12 November, the Secretary-General met with Brazil’s Environment Minister, Marina Silva. Ms. Silva stressed the efforts made at sustainable development in the Amazon tropical forest, an area larger than all of Western Europe(4,197,000 km2), where 180,000 people from 170 indigenous groups live, relying on the forest for their livelihood and cultural identity and which contains one of the Earth’s richest arrays of plant and animal species. Following that meeting, the Secretary-General attended a dinner hosted by the Governor of Pará, Ana Júlia Carepa.
On Tuesday, 13 November, the Secretary-General visited the Emílio Goeldi Museum, a traditional research station in the Amazon region that was built in 1871. The Secretary-General was able to observe native animals up close, including leopards, sloths and otters. He also planted two trees.
The Secretary-General then boarded a boat and travelled along the Guamá River, a tributary of the Amazon River. The boat took him to Combu Island, where he was able to meet with indigenous leaders, inspect local handicrafts, and see the production of açai, a local fruit. In comments to reporters, made in the middle of the forest, the Secretary-General said that the people living in the Amazon region for thousands of years were the pioneers of preserving biodiversity. He added that common efforts to address global warming depended on how well-managed the forests were.
That evening, the Secretary-General left Brazil for Spain.