For the English economist, the rules of the
global game must change, because there is already a new standard to measure companies and wealth.
BY Carolina Cardioli PICTURES
In the beginning of the 60’s, Hazel Henderson was a young mother
leaving the fresh air of a small town in England to live in New York.
Like many other mothers, she was worried about the affect of pollution
on their children. But instead of giving up living in the polluted
metropolis, she decided to fight to change the city, or better, the world.
Created an NGO to fight for a cleaner air, learned everything about the
environment, discovered how to deal with the government and began to
understand how the big multinationals operate. Four decades later,
already a grandmother, Hazel became one of the most respected
specialists in sustainable development of the planet. The author of
eight books translated into a dozen languages, consults to organizations
in more than 30 countries, publishes articles in 250 newspapers and
magazines and teaches at the University of California, besides having
worked for the United Nations. In this interview, Hazel Henderson
explains why the Brazilians are among the richest people in the world.
Sustainable Brazil – Today there are infinity of indicators
that measure from the GNP to the happiness of a country.
How to identify the ones that really matter?
Hazel Henderson – Each country has different values and goals, so
the indexes cannot be the same for everyone. Some indicators are
universal, how the life expectancy, the rate of infant mortality,
violation of human rights and environmental indicators. But there are
those specific ones of each culture. In Hawaii, for example, there is in index on the quality of life
based the sale of clocks. A rise clock sales means that worrying
about time is overcoming the local culture, and the Hawaiians do not
want this. This type of indicator is very appropriate for Hawaii. What
we need is that the statistics from all over the world get put together
more often to decide which of the indexes are universal, so that these
indexes become clearer and standardized.
BS – According to the indicators of quality of life Calvert –
Henderson, Brazil has one of the largest income and wealth per capita in
the world. How can this be, since a good majority of the Brazilian
population lives with less than one dollar a day?
HH – The traditional economists say that Brazil has the fifteenth
largest economy in the world. I believe they are not calculating
correctly all the assets of the country, such as the investments in
infrastructure or the cultural patrimony. Imagine, for example, how much
the city of Brasilia is worth, and the architectural patrimony, built
entirely with tax money. The other assets that do not get added in to
the calculation of traditional economists are the creative and vital
population that Brazil possesses. The Brazilian music is one of the
most successful products in the lineup of exports of the country. The
ecological assets, that are very vast, have never been calculated. There
are thousands of kilometers of wonderful beaches. At the present, Brazil
is self sufficient to produce energy and has several renewable energy
opportunities that have not been explored, such as solar, wind
generators and from hydrogen. If all the assets of the country were
added and divided by the number of the population, the Brazilians would
be among the richest people in the world.
BS – Based on the Calvert-Henderson indicators, how would
Switzerland a small and rich country be classified?
HH – Right there is a good example of where the people get
confused about the money. Switzerland has a strong currency; the
population has had a good life and developed a social democracy very
interesting. But in all reality Switzerland is one of the speculation
capitals of the world. The country laundered money of ex dictators
such as Mobutu, of Zaire (today Democratic Republic of Congo), and of
Sani Abacha, of Nigeria. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD),– that unites the 25 richest countries, threatened to
add the Swiss to their black list of countries that launder money. The
world the needs some cleaning in this global casino. However the biggest
battle is to make people notice, that in reality, the money is not worth
anything. Money is a tracking and scoring system and is only worth what
there real resources and human production underlying its value. The
economy is no longer on the gold or coin standard, but on the
information standards. Information and money are more and more
equivalent, since it is the information that drives the global markets.
The information is the new world currency, and it is not scarce.
OECD BLACK LIST OF THE
SUPERVISORES OF PARADISE
Since the Vienna convention, in 1998, the Financial Task Force an International organization associated with OECD to fight the laundering of money, publishes a list annually of the supervisors of paradise that withhold information about the financial operations they carried out in their territory. The last black list, published in July of 2004, includes Cook Islands, Indonesia, Myanmar, (ex Burma), Nauru, Nigeria and Philippines
BS – Is Brazil doing the right thing by claiming, along with
the IMF, a change is needed in the calculation of the public Deficit?
HH – President Lula is in a very difficult position. He has to
deal with the old system and with the perceptions of Wall Street, World
Bank and of the IMF, that are erroneous enough, at the same time that
the financial institutions are being taught that the world has changed.
And why can the Brazilian President do this? Because every one
understands Brazil is leading the integration of the south hemisphere.
If President Lula can persuade the IMF that they are really wrong in the
calculation of the public deficit, Brazil will have a lot more room to
invest in infra structure, which really needs to be done. Europe and
North America have had 300 years to build their infrastructure.
the countries in development also have to have conditions to develop
Calvert- Henderson Indicators
The indicators for the Quality of Life Calvert-Henderson were created by Hazel Henderson and by the Calvert group, an international office of asset management. It’s about an effort for the global contribution of development for the statistical
indicators for the quality of life that go beyond the traditional macroeconomics. The Calvert-Henderson indexes examine aspects such as education, employment, energy, environment, health, human rights, income, infra structure, national security, public safety, entertainment and shelter.
BS – Will all the changes be able to be made with the present
HH – I believe that the system should be changed as well.
that the old game of the GNP growth increases social inequality, and
leaves millions of people in poverty and pollutes the environment.
We have these evidences all around us. Therefore we need to make a big
change in the game. And how do we change the game? We begin to change
the way the game is scored. And that’s what we are doing with the new
BS – What is your opinion about the failure of the urgent
agreements, like the Kyoto Protocol, is it because of lobbying on part
HH – At this moment the United States are being governed by the Bush
administration, a fossil administration. It is fossil because it
receives so much financial support from the oil and gas companies. And
it is fossil because it is formed by all of these old men, such as Dick
Cheney (vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (secretary of defense) and Paul
Wolfowitz (deputy secretary of defense). But the problem around the
Kyoto Protocol is that the companies of fossil and nuclear energy pay
scientists so that they tell them that the changes to renewable energy
source would be bad for the economy. In reality, other studies, like the
of Skip Laitner, from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of the
United States, show that the investments in renewable energy and the
requirement that the automobile companies increase the efficiency of
fuel in their cars would result in a big stimulus for the North American
economy, that could create 500 thousand new jobs. The Kyoto Protocol
will be one of the political points of discussion of the next elections
in the United States, since the candidate John Kerry affirmed he
supports the signature of the Protocol.
Created in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol established that in the developed nations they limit the release of natural gases, which causes the greenhouse effect. For this to be in force, the protocol needs to become a law by, at least, 55 countries that add up to 55%
of the release of CO2 (carbon dioxide) registered in 1990. At the present time, 122 countries already have adopted the treaty, but the cut in carbon dioxide has only reached 44,2%. Since 2001, the United States, that is responsible for 36,1% of the release in the world of carbon dioxide, refuse to sign the document, stating the proposed cut would affect the economy.
BS – Is it not necessary to decrease the levels of consumption
so that we can build a sustainable society?
HH – Many companies develop their growth strategy serving only
10% of the richest people in society, that really do not need to consume
any more. We can change this with a new tax code that does not subsidize
the exhaustion of resources and do not support the companies that
produce more and more goods. The European Union has a law that is
called “take back,” which makes the companies responsible for their
products until the end of their useful life. Some oil companies
already understand this. The English BP now states that the initials
mean Beyond Petroleum (and not British Petroleum). Several of them are
already investing in hydrogen, fuel cells, solar energy and other
sources of renewable energy. When we look at the petroleum in a
intelligent manner, we realize it is to valuable for it to be burned. It
should be used only by the chemical and plastic industries and in other
more valuable sectors.
BS – How de we explain to the Brazilian CEOs that the
corporate social responsibility goes way beyond the philanthropy?
HH – I like the way that Mr. Oded Grajew explains this matter. He
says: �The mafia gives money to charity, they do philanthropy.� Usually, philanthropy is a manipulation. Social Responsibility does not
have anything to do with philanthropy. What we seek for is a
different way of what companies use to do in the past, when they would
put a little money in to the poor part of the world. We really want for
the process to change, maybe changing all of their production line.
Founder of the Abrinq foundation for the infant rights. Idealistic of the Social World Forum and president of the Ethos Institute, the businessman Oded Grajew is one of the main proponents of the concept of business social responsibility in Brazil. Affiliated to the Labor Party, acted as a special advisor for the
president Lula Inacio da Silva, but left the post in November of 2003.
BS – Does the Social Responsibility leads to a mandatory
HH – I believe so. The most advanced thought in sustainability
demonstrates that the companies really can become more efficient using
fewer raw materials and less energy, and more wisdom and knowledge. They
can also employ more people by shifting taxes from payrolls and incomes
to waste and polluters. At the present time, we punish the companies
with heavy tax rates and punish the people with high income taxes rates.
I hope the world changes its politics on taxes to punish the waste, the
pollution and the advertisements, that try to make people buy products
that they do not use and do not need.