Recife has a unique tropical environment with six rivers and 66 canals, mangroves and coral reefs.
Recife will be the first city in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the city and to set incremental goals to reduce these pollutants by 2020. It’s one of the two Urban-LEDS model cities in Brazil.
Its coastline and lowest neighborhoods will suffer from sea-levels rise ranging from 80 to 200 cm by 2100.
A number of sustainable transport and forestry projects have been launched to reduce emissions and preserve the surrounding environment.
Enclosed by a spectacular tropical environment of small islands, mangroves, coral reefs and beaches, Recife is spread along a sandy coastline with an average elevation of only 13 feet (4 meters) above sea level. Many homes in poor neighborhoods, however, are almost at sea level, and flooding at high tide is already a problem.
In the coming decades the city will suffer the global sea-level rise that scientists estimate at a value ranging from 80 to 200 centimeters by 2100. Should the worst-case scenarios become a reality, some parts of the city might as well end up under water. But even the most conservative estimates trouble those who live nearer the coastline.
Recife is located on the Atlantic coast, where the rivers Capibaribe, Beberibe and Jordão come together and flow into the ocean. Many other additional rivers, small islands and over 50 bridges are shaping the image of the city center.
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil, with around 1,5 million inhabitants. The city counts with more than 52,500 business enterprises and additionally 32,500 in the Metro Area which all together sums up to more than 85,000 enterprises, mostly in the sectors of sugar and ethanol (which is derived from sugar cane), ships, oil platforms and electronics.
As much as 46% of Recife’s total area is green, 60% of which is protected under conservation laws. An Urban Afforestation plan aims at preserving and increasing this unique environment. The Apibaribe River Navigability Project is instead focused on ensuring that the six rivers and 66 canals of the city are used as alternative sustainable routes. A planned increase in bike lanes and the creation of bus corridors to facilitate commuters and reduce private transport are other initiatives undertaken by the city government to reduce its impact on the environment and overall CO2 emissions.
In the future, Recife will have to develop an adaptation strategy to tackle the issue of sea-level rise and storm surges that with higher sea levels might cause serious damage on the coast. In the meantime, mayor Geraldo Julio signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICLEI to be on the Model Cities in Brazil under the project Promoting Low Emission Development Strategies (Urban-LEDS). The city council will soon discuss a bill on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability and will develop through a participatory process the City Low Emission Development Strategy, which will be connected to the city’s long term development plan.
“Thanks to the agreement signed with ICLEI, Recife will be the first city in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the city and to set incremental goals to reduce these pollutants by 2020” said Mayor Geraldo Julio.
Recife is an ICLEI Member. It also reports on the carbonn Climate Registry.
To learn more about the Urban-LEDS project, please visit the website.
Photo: A. Duarte