BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Inter-American Development Bank President Enrique V. Iglesias, speaking at the opening of an international conference on the ethical dimension of development, stressed the importance of a shared commitment by government, the private sector and the public at large to create a more just society.
“Democracy implies co-responsibility, and this debate can contribute to the creation of a culture that is sensitive to ethical values,” he said before an audience of 1,200 government, business and civil society leaders from 28 countries gathered to examine the new ethical challenges.
Public debate in modern societies must include three components: political stability, social participation and corporate responsibility. A collective social project, with rights and responsibilities, requires participation of society, government and private sector, Iglesias said at the meeting, which took place July 3-4.
Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen spoke in a videoconference during the event, in which he examined ethical challenges both old and new. “The success of an economy depends not only on general production and aggregated wealth, but also on equity and justice,” he said. The success of society depends in large measure on what people do spontaneously to help others, he added.
The meeting gathered specialists from different organizations to encourage a wider application of ethical values to transform communities and the business environment. Representatives of the productive sector, government and civil society exchanged experiences and discussed social responsibility and ethics in such areas as the economy, the environment and society.
The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and the prime minister of Norway, Kjell Magne Bondevik, attended the inauguration of the meeting.
According to the President of Brazil, development and ethics are inextricable. “It is not enough for an economy to grow,” he said. “There must be certainty that the growth will benefit all of society.” He cited the case of Brazil, which grew 7 percent annually from 1950 to 1980 but without a fair distribution of income. Correcting this distortion, he said, “is the responsibility of all men and women who have ethics as a point of reference in their lives.”
The Norwegian prime minister said Brazil has made a political commitment to fight poverty and social injustice. He said poverty cannot be defeated with policies or actions dictated from abroad. Instead, it must be fought with the defense of human rights, good practices of private initiative in the environmental and social areas and an incentive for public debate encouraged by the state.
Presentations included those of Sturla Stalsett of the University of Oslo; Ruth Cardoso, president of Comunidade Solidaria, Brazil; Rebeca Grynspan, director of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, North; Joan Prats, director of the International Institute of Governance, Spain; Lynn Fritz, director general of the Fritz Institute of the United States; Luisa Rains, regional IDB deputy manager; Viviane Senna, president of the Ayrton Senna Institute of Brazil; and Bernardo Kliksberg, general coordinator of the IDB’s Inter-American Initiative of Social Capital, Ethics and Development.
The international conference was organized by the Industrial Federation of the State of Minas Gerais, the IDB’s Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics and Development and the IDB’s State and Civil Society Division for Southern Cone countries. The governments of Minas Gerais and Norway also supported the event. Attending were political, business, and civil society leaders from the Americas and Europe. The governor of the state of Minas Gerais, Aécio Neves, and the president of the Industrial Federation, Robson Braga de Andrada, participated in the inaugural ceremony.
Bernardo Kliksberg, general coordinator of the IDB’s Inter-American Initiative of Social Capital, Ethics and Development, said that the focus of the conference was “to share exemplary experiences for social responsibility mobilized by ethics and to identify joint projects for the region.” The seminar was closed by the IDB vice president for Planning and Administration, Paulo Paiva.