Why Millennials must steer Brazil’s future

This blog is part of a series published on WEFLIVE from young leaders in the One Young World community who are addressing issues across the world relating to the World Economic Forum 2017 theme of 'Responsive and Responsible Leadership'.

Hosting the 2016 Olympic Games was meant to be a moment of pride in Brazil’s history. The majority of the population was excited to be part of such an amazing event,  but the government’s prioritisation of those people's needs was questionable. Should a country that does not provide a sewage system to almost half of its population invest in stadiums, airports and all the logistics required for the Olympics?

When Brazil was selected to host the Olympics, the country was on an upward trajectory. GDP was bouncing back strongly from the previous year, inflation was under control and unemployment rates were falling.

But in such a short period of time, the expansionary policies, which should have been used with caution, became permanent. Government guidelines to issue more credit and encourage increased consumption led to higher inflation and higher debt. Soon, we had a budget deficit on our hands, slowing GDP growth and less foreign investment. The country, once seen as a major emerging market, was all of a sudden on the brink of implosion, and Operation Car Wash started to unveil the biggest corruption scandal of our time within the state- owned oil company, Petrobras. With the economy entering a recession, inflation at double-digits, skyrocketing unemployment, corruption and a budget deficit, inevitably this all fell on President Dilma Rousseff’s shoulders.

What did she do to face such a terrible situation? Her infamous words were, “I didn’t know about the corruption [...], there is no proof of my involvement.” Leaders are not supposed to act as victims, but rather, take responsibility for such developments; this is a prime example of poor leadership.

How can we effectively help our country and make a difference in such a complex environment? Millennials were instrumental to the protests which led to the Rousseff’s impeachment, but we have more to do. We have to stay vigilant. We have to communicate with each other and use social media to push for higher standards and show our government that we are engaged and will not tolerate corruption or fiscal irresponsibility. If we want to see our country flourish, we must speak up, discuss and worry about our politics every day. If we leave it to others, we will continue to be victims of their actions. We cannot let politicians gamble with our future just to stay in power.

Millennials are a generation known for being conscious. We care about companies’ values, worry about the future of our planet, and seek to end poverty. My hope is that this generation will be better at putting collective interests ahead of personal ones, and that we, as leaders, will always speak up lead the change we want to see in the world.

Giovana Visconti de Barros is a One Young World Ambassador from Brazil.

The opinions expressed in this post are the author's own and do not reflect the view of companies they work for.