© Leaders League
Guilherme Cunha Costa is President of the Brazilian Association of Institutional and Governmental Relations (ABRIG). Mr. Costa is well known for his vast experience working within political consultancy boutiques, industry associations and the government relations departments of established heavyweights such as Paper Excellence Group and Camargo Correa.
Leaders League. What is ABRIG’s mission?
Guilherme Cunha Costa. ABRIG was founded in August 2007 by institutional and governmental relations (IGR) professionals interested in the public debate about civil society and the private sector’s role in the political decision-making process.
ABRIG recently completed its 11th anniversary. Our priority is capacity-building and we have established strategic partnerships with leading academic institutions such as Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), Mackenzie and Insper for a range of extension courses to be taught.
We actively participate as the foremost entity in the debate about the regulation of lobbying which is currently high on the Lower House’s agenda. In parallel to this, ABRIG formed its Ethics Committee and approved its code of conduct with the primary objective of ensuring the integrity of its members when participating in decision-making processes.
In 2015, ABRIG petitioned for the inclusion of IGR professionals in the Brazilian Classification of Occupations (CBO). This official inclusion, which came in February 2018, has been our greatest achievement so far, as it is official recognition of our relevance as professionals.
ABRIG is growing exponentially. We are now over 500 individual and institutional members, which represents an increase of 700% over the last two years.
What is the ideal background for an IGR professional?
With the Brazilian market in full growth, professionals seeking work in the sector should obtain as many qualifications as possible. Law, political science and journalism are the most common backgrounds, but certainly not the only degrees studied by IGR professionals. CBO has listed 91 different skills as key to our profession which makes it one of the multidisciplinary activities among the over 2,500 which are listed.
What is the role of Government Relations in Brazil?
New IGR professionals are gradually replacing old-school lobbyists, a group which society understandably has reservations about, especially after Operation Car Wash revealed the shady dealings between the public and private sectors. ABRIG represents civil society and we are committed to increasing transparency between the private and public spheres. Hence our support for the regulation of lobbying.
In recent years, IGR has increasingly gained both strength and visibility in Brazil. Why?
The efforts of highly-qualified IGR practitioners as well as ABRIG’s own institutional posture in fostering debate have both been fundamental. In May of this year, for example, we sponsored the first International Conference on Logistics and Innovation, in which international specialists participated in tandem with key figures from the Brazilian transportation sector, shortly before the irruption of the Trucker’s Strike which paralysed the country. It is essential that public authorities are open to dialogue when it occurs within strict ethical parameters.
What are ABRIG’s expectations for 2019?
We are hopeful serving Congressmen will appreciate the “Lobbying Law” as it was during this legislature that the subject was most debated and most evolved - it would be only be fair if Congress left us this legacy. With a new government, a comprehensive union between the public and private spheres will be necessary on behalf of our country. More dialogue and public policies aligned with the demands of society are needed and, as an institution, we will be ready to participate in the necessary dialogue.