Eirin has written an opinion piece that was postet in the norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen. It is about the much dicussed Hydro-case in Brazil, that has gained a lot of attention the last few weeks. You can read Eirin’s original article in norwegian HERE.
We want to share the article with our international readers aswell, and below we have translated the text to English.
Hydro and Norwegian reputation
As a Norwegian abroad I have multiple times noticed the enthusiasm in peoples’ voices when I tell them where I am from. “Oh, Norway”, they often say, “what a well-functioning country!” For most people this is how Norway is, and that is to a large extent true. But then we have the Hydro-case.
Hydro is in the midst of one of the largest crisis in the companys’ history, after it was clear that they admitted being responsible for illegal emission at their aluminum plant in Bacarena, Brazil. But,
according to themselves and Norwegian media the company has also been made a scapegoat for others’ mistakes and become a losing part in the political power game in the country. Rumor has it that the Brazilian president holds grudges from his visit to Norway last summer, where he received harsh criticism concerning the deforestation of the Amazon. Furthermore, it has been raised that the Hydro case is an excellent opportunity for Brazilian politicians to point out the Norwegian double standards on environmental issues. As Brazil will go through a number of elections during 2018 this
case is predicted, according to NRK Urix, to be kept alive for a long period (Stefansen, 2018) (Elvevold, 2018).
I am for the time being a Norwegian residing in Brazil and is now hearing the Brazilians skepticism to the well-functioning Norway. Because Norway is not only the state, or the people – abroad, it is also our big transnational companies. We are all representing our country, and at the moment Norway is not well-represented in my new home country.
I, myself am employed as a sustainability manager for Hostelling International Brazil and are here to contribute to a more sustainable Brazil. Hearing about a big Norwegian state-owned company polluting Brazils fragile ecosystem hurts my Norwegian soul. In a country where approximately 25 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and where the six largest billionaires holds the same equity as the 100 million poorest (Forte, 2017). The country is skewed, and corruption in both politics and business is high. In Norway this is not accepted, but as Hydro has shown, the norms can
quickly change abroad. The distinction between right and wrong can be diffuse. This time when it comes to environment.
As a Norwegian in Brazil I have noticed that the country lacks a well-functioning structure, that money decides, and environment rarely comes first. Still, I am not here to take advantage of this. I am here to try to contribute to a change. Hydro, from my perspective, have done the opposite and now find themselves in a ruck that is hard to get out of. Yes, they most likely have been made into a scapegoat. Still, it must be said, their and then also the Norwegian double standard is visible across borders. Norway criticizes Brazil of deforestation of the Amazon, at the same time as we pollute the same country with our state-owned company.
Hydro, here is an advice from a sustainability-interested Norwegian in Brazil – it is time to take responsibility instead of distributing guilt.
Elvevold, E. B., 2018. – Payback-time mot Norge. [Internett]
Available at: https://e24.no/boers-og-finans/norsk-hydro/brasil-ekspert-om-hydro-skandalenpayback-time-mot-norge/24283902
[Funnet 14 03 2018].
Forte, J., 2017. More Than 50 Million Brazilians Living Below Poverty Line. [Internett] Available at: http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-politics/more-than-25-million-brazilians-living-below-poverty-line/
[Funnet 13 03 2018].
Stefansen, A., 2018. Hydro i Brasil: Et drama som vil koste dyrt. [Internett] Available at: https://www.nrk.no/urix/hydro-i-brasil_-et-drama-som-vil-koste-dyrt-1.13958500 [Funnet 13 03 2018].