By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Recently appointed British Consul General Jonathan Dunn has revealed his plans for his mandate of the next four years in an exclusive interview with The Rio Times. Dunn, who replaced Paula Walsh in office, puts the emphasis of his work on business, education and sports.
Dunn arrived in Rio in August 2014 together with his family after four years in Brasília, where he last served as Deputy Head of Mission at the British embassy, and an earlier posting to Vietnam. He revealed that he felt “lucky” to be posted to a place, where with the Olympics a lot will happen within the next four years.
Although only a few months in the city, Dunn says he is enjoying Rio and has already gotten to know several corners of it. His favorite beach is Grumari, which he described as “one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.”
The focus of Mr. Dunn’s mandate next to taking care of the around 20,000 UK nationals living in Rio and the around 170,000 British visiting Brazil each year, as well as deepening the relationship of Rio with the UK, lies mainly in three areas: business, education and sports.
The Consul General aims at expanding business relations between the UK and Brazil and assisting the British companies already in the country, of which 120 are in Rio’s oil and gas sector. They encourage companies, such as Jaguar Landrover, to come to Brazil, which he sees as an “emerging country on an upwards trajectory in the long term.”
Education is another area, which Mr. Dunn deems important to improve the image and the relationship the UK has with Brazil. Great Britain is the second favorite destination of Brazilian students, who once returning from the UK will make “great advocates” in Brazil.
With the experience of hosting the Games in London in 2012 and a general emphasis on sports, the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games constitute another focus of the British consulate. “Our role here is to pull together the whole of the British government’s efforts on the Olympics and Paralympics. We look back to 2012 […] and we share our experience of London, so that Rio can learn from that and the organization can use it as they see fit,” Mr. Dunn, who is proud to have the closest relationship between successive host cities of Olympic Summer Games, explained.
Furthermore, the consulate sees the Olympics as a great opportunity to bring business to the UK, stimulate exports and promote the image of Great Britain. We want to “help tell a story about modern UK, bringing to life the real UK of the 21st century,” the Consul General stated.
They also work closely with the British Olympic and Paralympic teams in their preparation in order to maximize medals to be won in 2016.
In Dunn’s opinion, the Olympics will also have a much greater positive impact on Rio than the World Cup. He hopes they create a “virtuous circle”, with new developments such as in in the Port Zone, with the VLT, and projects such as Museu de Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), which bring new value to entire neighborhoods.
Mr. Dunn is amazed by the event organization in Rio, as there are not many cities that host such big happenings like the New Year’s and Carnival right after each other or that put together an anniversary event year between the World Cup and hosting the Olympic Games. This “bodes well for the Olympics,” he is sure.
Rio’s 450th anniversary “will be fantastic fun. This city knows how to put up a party,” and the consulate is looking forward to do various things throughout the year to join Rio in that inclusive party. A program of all UK activities should be launched soon.
As for safety during those events and in the city in general, he urges visitors to use “normal precautions.” He generally is very optimistic about the development in Rio and Brazil and opportunities for the future. “In Rio you can see the social trajectory that Brazil has gone through in the last years. There are a lot of challenges, but there is also a huge upside. […] It is a fantastic time to be in this city.”