In 2003, Norberto Odebrecht led an important change in the Odebrecht Foundation’s history. Focused on the Bahia Southern Lowlands, the region that has a sharp contrast between natural wealth and the extreme poverty of its population, the entrepreneur called together different social actors to take part in an integral development plan, one focused on establishing youth and their families in the rural zone.
The signing of a statement of intent involving the Odebrecht Foundation, Bahia State Government, Association of Bahia Southern Lowlands Municipalities (AMUBS) and civil society representatives led to the creation of a Governance Pact to manage the Southern Bahia DIS, currently called the Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS) - considered the main orienting entity for the foundation’s actions in the region from that point forward. The goal was to create integrated actions that promote rural quality education, the formation of production chains, practice of citizenship and environmental conservation.
“There are four capitals that all societies have and which, under favorable conditions, allow for material and cultural advancement in a sustainable fashion,” said Norberto Odebrecht. Under this replicable model, the investment in Human Capital took place with the offer of quality education, through the creation of Rural Family Homes, where youth learn production techniques, and the Youth Home, a Civil Society Organization of Public Interest focused on teaching adapted to the reality of the rural region. Production Capital is strengthened through the generation of work and income: family farmers organized into cooperatives complete the phases of production, processes and sales. Social Capital is activated by giving citizens access to the legal system and their basic rights. Finally, by raising awareness about the rational use of natural resources, Environmental Capital closes the cycle of actions that formed the foundation for integrated and sustainable development, strengthened today through the PDCIS Program.
The initiative promotes the creation of a new rural middle class, driven by entrepreneurial rural youth like Robenilson dos Santos, age 18. Trained by the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family Home and associated with Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Producers’ Cooperative, the youth contributes toward his family’s income through farming and has become a reference for the community. “Today, I think about the future with a different perspective,” he said. “I want to keep my rural property sustainable, to set an example, and I want to stay in the rural region and have a high quality of life.”
The actions of the PDCIS Program helped issue over 135,000 basic civil documents, such as ID cards and birth certificates, while also conserving 8,300 hectares of Atlantic Forest areas. Currently, there are 840 family farmers organized into strategic cooperatives, and more than 940 youth have already been or are being benefitted by the Rural Family Homes. “The high impact results reveal that the model adopted has the basic principles to be replicated in other territories both within and outside Brazil, and is capable of improving people’s lives,” said Eduardo Odebrecht, Vice President of the Board of Trustees and Executive Chair of the Odebrecht Foundation.
Important Milestones From The Period:
2004 - Launch of the publication “40 Proposals for Brazil’s Social Development” by the Odebrecht Foundation. The document presents the ideas applied in the Bahia Southern Lowlands, certified by influential individuals committed to social actions, such as Ruth Cardoso, Cristovam Buarque and Claudio Moura Castro
2005 - Creation of the Tribute to the Future Program, through which members and partner companies of the Odebrecht Group can make donations or tax-deductible contributions to educational projects
2010 - PDCIS program earns the 2010 United Nations Public Service Award in the category “Improving Citizen Participation in Public Decision Processes through Innovative Mechanisms,” granted by the United Nations Organization
Resence That Continues To Mark History:
Renato Baiardi is part of theOdebrecht S.A. Board of Directors and the Odebrecht Foundation Board of Trustees. He supported Norberto Odebrecht and the foundation’s team during the implementation of social projects in the Bahia Southern Lowlands. “The work developed in that region is emblematic for the entire Group, since it has provided both knowledge and experience,” said Baiardi in 2013 during an interview with the magazine Odebrecht Informa.
Names That Have Been Historically Important:
Mauricio Medeiros joined the Odebrecht Foundation in February of 2003 as Senior Officer. He participated in the creation of the Southern Lowland DIS Program and helped the institution grow for 11 years. Medeiros advocated that regional, integrated and sustainable development only occurs when a trusting society becomes empowered through a commitment to change its reality.
French agronomic engineer Pierre Gilly enchanted Norberto Odebrecht with the topic to which has dedicated his time and attention: the installation of the Family Homes, which propose to teach modern rural production technology to the youth who live in the rural region. Considered the main inspiration for the Bahia Southern Lowlands Rural Family Home models, Gilly stated during a visit to the region in 2005 that “the great merit of the youth is that they are able to convince their community that new technologies are good and can bring progress.”