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Opinion: Rio Games ideal stage to highlight planet's survival

By Fernando Meirelles, special to CNN
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
Brazil contains many natural wonders like the Veu de Noiva waterfall in Chapada dos Guimaraes national park.
Brazil contains many natural wonders like the Veu de Noiva waterfall in Chapada dos Guimaraes national park.
  • Fernando Meirelles says the Rio Games will be an opportunity to show Brazil's energetic potential
  • He says the center of attention should be Brazil's natural resources and the importance they have for the world
  • Brazil's rainforest is increasingly critical to the fragile balance of the planet's climate, says Meirelles
  • Meirelles: "It could be the Olympics of the future -- a real planetary event."

Editor's note: Fernando Meirelles is a Brazilian film director who was nominated for an Oscar for the film 'City of God' and received much critical acclaim for his movie 'The Constant Gardener.'

Brazil (CNN) -- Rio will be the first city in South America to host the Olympics in its history -- a shift of axis that makes sense in the new world politics. I hope this change is not only geographical and that we can make a memorable event.

In terms of organization, despite potential problems in the structure of airports and public transportation systems, everything should come out satisfactorily. Rio de Janeiro has hosted other major world events, and after hosting the World Cup in 2014 it will be prepared.

The question that arises is: How do we want to show Brazil to the world? Internally, this debate promises to be very lively.

Fernando Meirelles at the London Film Festival in 2011.
Fernando Meirelles at the London Film Festival in 2011.

Brazil measures progress by the growth of GDP -- an index that is questionable to evaluate the progress of a country -- but as this is the current view, I think many here would like to take advantage of the visibility of the Games to show the world how our agriculture has become one of the most productive and advanced in the world, to show our energetic potential or the strength of our internal market that makes us more immune to global economic crisis.

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There are groups in Brazil that sees the Olympic Games in Rio as an opportunity to do more business. I'm sure there are government sectors who also wish to use the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games to reinforce these points... but our internal achievements do not interest the rest of the world. What sets us apart, and should be the center of attention, not only in the opening ceremony but during all the Olympics, is our natural resources and the importance they have for the world.

Forest still covers 68% of Brazil's vast territory. The Amazon represents over half of the world's remaining rainforest. We know that these rainforests play a crucial role for global biodiversity conservation and a valuable freshwater resource, but also provide essential ecological services such as a carbon sink. That is why we call it the lungs of the world and we know how it is increasingly critical to the fragile balance of the planet's climate.

Rio mayor: How to build the city of the future

At a time when the world sees the verge of a collapse in it's natural resources, food security and survival of hundreds of millions of people who are threatened by lack of water and oceanic resources depleting, the Rio Games are the perfect platform to expose that we urgently need to change our consumption patterns and our way of life if we want a future for our grandchildren.

The true Olympic spirit is to bring together all countries and all people for a common goal.

In other Games, host cities have reinforced the importance of peace, of economic development, and praised technology or human values. I think right now what matters most to the entire planet is the question of the survival of our species. Rio de Janeiro with its forests and impressive nature seems to be the ideal stage to do it. It could be the Olympics of the future -- a real planetary event.

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