The Global Alliance is delighted to welcome Instituto Ibirapitanga,1 a Brazilian foundation created in 2017 by filmmaker Walter Salles, as the newest member of the alliance. Ibirapitanga supports organizations and initiatives that work to strengthen democracy and defend civil liberties in Brazil in two main areas: racial equality, fighting racism and the system of racial inequalities that structures Brazilian society; and food systems, developing a healthy, just and sustainable food system.

As a grant-making institution, Ibirapitanga supports initiatives ranging from long-standing organizations to informal collectives. It provides mostly core funding to organizations developing different and often complementary strategies in both its programs. All resources are invested in Brazil out of an endowment established by its founder.

The food systems program is focused on the production, distribution, and consumption of food and the intersections with various fields, such as the environment, health, and social development. Ibirapitanga supports initiatives around three main objectives: 1) to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed products; 2) to restrict the use and consumption of pesticides; and 3) promote the consumption of agroecological products. All three objectives are supported by research, communication, and actions: stimulating the communication of evidence, supporting regulatory and normative measures, informing public debate, contributing to the public’s understanding, and developing new narratives based on agroecological principles.

“We value being part of a group of foundations capable of influencing food systems policies and institutions globally. As a new foundation, it is critical to consider how other organizations are approaching food systems from a funder standpoint. Although our work is mostly targeted on Brazil, food systems are essentially a cross-border issue. We stand to gain a lot from other Global Alliance members’ experiences, both in how they frame their strategies and from past experiences, both positive and negative.” – Andre Degenszajn, Executive Director

In addition, Ibirapitanga is dedicated to the racial equality program, which begins with the recognition that racism structures inequalities in Brazil. Addressing unequal relations means disorganizing the discrimination systems that perpetuate and deepen them, which the myth of racial democracy has long upheld. The program supports initiatives to: 1) preserve and update history and memory and value ancestry of black thought and culture; 2) promote knowledge of affirmative action, and programs for women of colour and black students as they enter into universities; and 3) stimulate the construction of an antiracist field that can challenge the configuration of race relations in Brazil.

The Global Alliance has much to learn from Instituto Ibirapitanga as well – our first member from South America – as we aim to unify and amplify our voice and reach on the global stage based on shared values and principles in an effort to make positive change in the world through strategically engaging, not just as funders, but as invested partners.

1Ibirapitanga is a tupi-guarani word for the pau-brasil tree — which gave the country its name. Ybirá means wood or tree and pitanga means red, a reference to the tree’s heartwood, which was used to dye fabric.