Brazil often flies under the radar in the UK media, resulting in a decline in Latin American studies centers in UK universities. This is a missed opportunity, as Brazil’s significance extends far beyond its borders. As the largest country in South America, Brazil commands nearly half of the continent’s landmass and is the seventh most populous globally, with over 216 million people. Renowned for its biodiversity, Brazil hosts 10% of known species, including 100,000 insect types.
With 238 spoken languages, Brazil reflects a rich history and diverse population. São Paulo, for instance, stands as the world’s third-largest ‘Italian’ city, and the country boasts the largest community of ethnic Japanese outside Japan. Brazil is globally recognized for the Amazon, housing 60% of the rainforest, a vital carbon sink mitigating climate change. The Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, further highlights Brazil’s environmental significance.
Despite grappling with economic challenges, high inflation, and income inequality, Brazil is making strides in renewable energy, generating over 40% of its electricity from hydropower. Recent years saw setbacks under Bolsonaro, marked by slashed higher education budgets and an inward turn. However, with a new government in place, the optimism of “Brazil is back” is gaining momentum, signifying the nation’s resurgence on the international stage.
Against this backdrop, the University of Birmingham is officially launching its Brazil Institute, marking a decade of strategic engagement in Brazil. Recognized by Brazil’s Minister of Education, Camilo Santana, the university signed a protocol of intent, solidifying its commitment to collaborative efforts through the Brazil Institute. The University of Birmingham stands as the sole UK institution with such an agreement with Brazil’s Ministry.
The Brazil Institute aligns with the university’s distinct portfolio, focusing on place-based relevance in collaborative projects spanning health, nanotechnology, environmental science, transport, and energy. Birmingham aims to deepen its engagement with Brazil, strengthen UK-Brazil partnerships, and become a globally recognized center for Brazilian engagement. The official launch on November 24, 2023, featuring the new Brazilian Ambassador to the UK, Antonio Patriota, will showcase the impactful work conducted in collaboration with Brazil.
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