At an RCGI event, psychologist Sigmar Malvezzi discussed public perception and communication within the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Health and well-being, as well as eradication of poverty, quality education, clean and accessible energy, and actions against climate change. These are some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) proposed by the United Nations (UN) within the 2030 Agenda. The FAPESP Shell Research Center for Gas Innovation (RCGI) is increasingly committed to these objectives, especially in the fight against global warming, by developing technologies to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil. At an event last Friday (November 13), the Center invited psychologist Sigmar Malvezzi, a professor at USP’s Institute of Psychology, to talk about the importance of communication and the public’s perception of this challenge. For him, the SDGs will only be successfully achieved if everyone actively defends the cause.

Since 2018, the RCGI has stressed making its research activities increasingly transdisciplinary, by promoting sustainability and including a social dimension. Malvezzi was invited to share his vision within this context.

“The purposes of the SDGs cross civil, institutional, and ideological boundaries. These are long-term goals that reveal a moral commitment to the future,” says Malvezzi. He adds that in our “globalized, digitalized, and fragmented” society, survival and effectiveness depend on artisanal and creative adaptation, rather than on merely mechanical and functional actions. “In today’s world, we cannot help but think globally. Why is it that, even though we have resources, society is not handling health well (as we see in the pandemic), or quality of life, justice, conservation of the environment, and social peace? Have we not yet learned to recognize and live in the global dimension?” he asks.

According to Malvezzi, the fulfillment of Agenda 2030 depends not only on technology, but also on the understanding, adhesion, mobilization, and protagonism of society, which can be obtained through dialogue, critical reflection, and leadership. “It is necessary to change the understanding of global problems and understand them at two levels: of causes and of reasons. For example, the causal level is found in the observation that heat boils water. And the reasoning level reveals the explanation for this. Understanding and effectiveness grow with the interdependence of these two lines of thinking”.

In addition to the exchange of technical knowledge, the psychologist proposes intersubjectivity actions to direct the collective imagination towards these goals and towards the “shared house” in which we live. He uses the example of the protagonist of the movie The Adventures of Pi, who survived thanks to his imaginative efforts, his reflection, and his commitment to overcoming the lack of resources. “We need society to join in from an awareness that is not ephemeral. Nobody survives without stimulating their dreams. We need technical knowledge, but also the strength of subjectivity in our motivation. Each of us needs to be a Pi.”