Brazilian intern campaigns to get PM to Rio+20
Environmental volunteer believes PM's appearance at UN Conference on Sustainable Development is pivotal for Israel.
Activists call on PM to attend Rio+20 Photo: Courtesy Felipe Burman
In the eyes of 26-year-old Felipe Burman, an appearance by Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable
Development next week would be pivotal for Israel’s image.
instrumental, according to Burman, that the young Brazilian volunteer in Israel
created a YouTube video appeal that he hopes will reach the prime minister’s
desktop before the summit occurs.
Rio+20, whose preliminary events began
on Wednesday, will culminate in a three-day, high-level summit from June 20
through 22, in Rio di Janeiro.
The conference will mark two decades since
the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, also in Rio de Janeiro,
as well as the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development in Johannesburg. About 50,000 people and 130 state heads are
expected to attend the event, including a 60-member delegation from Israel led
by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
“We believe that
because we face a lot of uncertainties in our country, a lot of people don’t
understand Israeli actions, and just relate Israel to conflict,” Burman told The
Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “We are looking for Netanyahu to attend
Burman, the owner of Romandel – a green advertising agency in
Brazil – has been a volunteer since September in Masa’s Israel Government
Fellows program, where he was assigned to work in the international relations
division of the Environmental Protection Ministry. The majority of the other
young people from all over the world in the two-and-a-half- minute video are also
Israel Government Fellows.
To Burman, Netanyahu’s “face shows
“If you see Environment Minister Gilad Erdan talking in the
round tables about sustainable development, it’s one thing,” Burman said. “But
if Bibi Netanyahu attends Rio+20, even before he starts his speech, he will be
working for Israel.”
The YouTube video begins with stark white text
indicating that the only Israeli head of state to visit Brazil since the 1960s
was Shimon Peres, in 2009.
Spliced together contiguously, and all
speaking in their own languages with English subtitles, Valentin, from France,
Elie, from Spain, and Jonah, from the US, open the video stressing the
importance of Netanyahu’s attendance at Rio+20, where so many heads of state
will be present at “one of the largest UN events in history.”
“It is the
first opportunity for Israel to show how the country is committed to
developmental initiatives and how Israel contributes and can find solutions for
world issues,” adds Itzik, from Israel.
Yana, from the Ukraine, speaks
about Israel’s high level of knowledge in recycling and solar energy fields, as
well as the sustainable use of natural resources. Following her, Burman
emphasizes how Israel is interested in Brazil’s alternative energy developments,
and that both countries can work to solve such issues together in the
The end of the film shows a crowd of young people grasping signs
that read: “BIBI please attend RIO+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development,”
which is followed by text saying, “Children and youth, policy makers and world
leaders, Israeli and Diaspora Jews, are looking forward [to] your decision. Bibi
please attend Rio+20.”
Hoping that the prime minister will decide to
attend last minute, Burman delivered a formal letter and a copy of the video
directly to his office on Tuesday, he told the Post.
He is simply doing
“everything [he] can do” and using every tool at his disposable to convince the
prime minister to fly to Brazil, he said.
“It could really be a good
chance not just for bilateral relations between Israel and Brazil, but also in
the multilateral relations between a lot of states and Israel,” Burman said,
noting that so many states are looking to learn from Israel’s expertise in green
“I’m very happy that Israel has 60 people in its delegation –
it’s already good,” he continued.
“The face of Bibi Netanyahu is very
famous and relates to Israel, and people think of him as a bad guy... I see a
chance to show to the world what I can see here in Israel.