By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Recently appointed British Consul General Simon Wood has shared his plans for the next four years in an exclusive interview with The Rio Times. Wood, who replaced Jonathan Dunn in office, puts the emphasis of his work on trade, education and the environment.
Simon Wood has been in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a career diplomat for almost twenty years. He has previously been posted overseas twice to Tokyo, Japan; and also posted overseas as Deputy Ambassador at the British Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Wood shares how he has found Rio so far, “My family and I arrived four months ago, and it’s been a fascinating time so far. We love the views, and love spotting the Christ the Redeemer from many different streets and parts of the city. I’ve loved watching the sunset from Ipanema beach.”
Wood adds, “Many people I’ve met professionally and socially have been open and welcoming, keen to help me and my family, and to share their knowledge. It also helps that I have an amazing and expert team at the Consulate working with me!”
After the Olympics Games have moved on and Rio de Janeiro faces the brunt of a national recession and particularly difficult security situation, Wood comes to the post with realistic expectations. “We’re living in unpredictable political and economic times,” He admits.
Adding, “That unpredictability is a major challenge for us all (I wouldn’t dare to try and predict the Brazilian 2018 election outcomes!). In Rio, the security situation is of course a concern. We want to see economic recovery in Brazil – that is good for Brazil as well as good for UK-Brazil co-operation. And economic improvements can help security improvements too.”
In terms of goals and focus, Wood shares, “Our headline objective is to create and strengthen partnerships with Brazil. In Rio in particular that includes trade and investment (particularly in oil, gas, marine and renewable energy sectors), creating new science and innovation collaborations, promoting UK education, creativity, culture and tourism.”
In addition to the local economy, Wood is also involved in national environmental programs. “I also oversee our climate and energy-related work across the country, where the UK is investing in programs to help Brazil reduce its carbon emissions and halt deforestation,” explains Wood.
At his post as Consul General in Rio, Wood also wants to make sure that British expatriates and travelers stay informed about what is happening in the city. He shares, “There are something like 16,000 British nationals living in Rio state, as well of course as a large number of tourists each year.”
“We want tourists and residents to be well informed, take sensible precautions and to stay safe – so please do read our travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil. Our consular services are there to help when it is needed most.”
Adding, “We use Facebook (UKinBrazil) and Twitter (@SimonWoodFCO) to promote and keep people updated on what we do and on what’s going on in the UK. In 2019 I’m particularly looking forward to celebrating a royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!”