Building skills for tomorrow’s economy: insights from Mato Grosso

The education work on sustainable agriculture by Grupo Semente illustrates how small scale farmers can achieve better environmental and health outcomes by adopting modern practices. However, the high cost of certification of organic produce in relation to the farmers’ output presents a challenge to securing a price premium in the marketplace. More institutional support is thus required to address constraints in human and financial resources and upscale sustainable farming practices. “Just as individuals face institutional barriers that prevent them from achieving a greater impact, institutions face systemic barriers that stand in the way of achieving deep, transformative change. When the three levels – individuals, institutions and the overarching system – act in concert, that’s when things are starting to change rapidly” remarks Giuliano Montanari, Green Economy Specialist at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Specifically, the workshop set out to validate findings and recommended actions for advancing capacity building derived from the Green Economy Learning Assessment (GELA), a study realized by the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT). As part of their methodology, the UFMT researchers talked to numerous stakeholders and institutions in civil society, academia, the private and public sector to identify strategic intervention points to advance learning on sustainability in the state. “One of the intervention points aims at enriching curricula of secondary education institutions with basic green economy concepts, to achieve better geographical reach and promote behavioral change over the long term” explains Luciane Durante, Professor and project lead for the study.

In his concluding observations, Olivan Rabelo, Director of the Office of Technological Innovation at UFMT, pointed out an additional skill to learn in order to induce change in the particularly diverse social landscape of Mato Grosso, namely empathy. “With so many different economic, cultural and social interests spread over such vast distances in our state, we need to able to mutually understand each other. And this is why this we’re talking more than economic policy today. Things are already moving here, but we need to take that discussion to more citizens and initiatives.” For this workshop, chief Rony drove nearly five hours to make his pitch. If some of the actions of the GELA get implemented, next time perhaps the green economy discussion may come straight to the public square of his tribe.

Attendees: Rony Paresi, chief of the Wazare tribe, Flora Ferreira Camargo, agronomist at the civil society initiative Grupo Semente, and Suenia Maria Cordeiro, representative of the public agency Sebrae

Visit the UFMT website for more information on programmes and initiatives.