Unpacking Brazil’s Leadership in the Global Biofuels Arena: Brazilian Ethanol Diplomacy in Africa

Unpacking Brazil’s Leadership in the Global Biofuels Arena: Brazilian Ethanol Diplomacy in Africa

Afionis, S., Stringer, L. C., Favretto, N., Tomei, J., & Buckeridge, M. S. (2016). Unpacking Brazil’s leadership in the global biofuels arena: Brazilian ethanol diplomacy in Africa. Global Environmental Politics, 16(3), 127-150.

Biofuels represent an opportunity for Brazil to exert global leadership by substantially scaling up the production, consumption, and international trade of bioethanol. Africa represents an ideal venue in which to do this, given its suitable agro-climatic conditions and extensive land area. Brazil has consequently sought to establish bilateral partnerships with African countries, as well as North-South-South trilateral partnerships involving the EU and US. However, empirically grounded assessments of how Brazil’s leadership aspirations have unfolded in practice through these partnerships are limited. In this article, we examine Brazil’s potential to exert global political leadership, by analyzing its policybased, structural, and instrumental qualities in making bilateral and trilateral inroads regarding bioethanol production in Africa. Interviews in Brazil, Africa, and Europe suggest that both the bilateral and trilateral avenues have produced meager results. Lack of domestic strategy and vision, economic recession, and a fragmented alliance network have reduced Brazil’s capacity to achieve its ethanol diplomacy objectives.