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TAP Time: Brazil

“TAP Time” sessions at the Cities & Regions Pavilion showcase the most promising projects from the Transformative Actions Program (TAP). The Brazil “TAP Time” session on Thursday, 3 December featured presentations from  Mayor Marcio Lacerda of Belo Horizonte,  representing Itu, Mayor Antonio Luiz Carvalho accompanied by Rodrigo Ventre, Executive Director of EPPO, Project Coordinator Helio Machado Pessoa of Recife, and Águeda Muniz, Secretary of Urbanism and Environment Department of Fortaleza.

The projects were linked by their aim to improve the lives of residents through integrated and participatory approaches which combine “hard” infrastructure solutions with “soft” educational components. The projects from both Belo Horizonte and Itu build on pioneering work started over 15 years ago. The project from Recife and Fortaleza have in a common a focus on inclusivity and ecosystem-based approaches.  

Belo Horizonte presented their municipal plan to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) through action in three sectors: transportation, energy, and sanitation. For transport, the city is expanding the bus rapid transit system established 20 years ago to cover 400,000 km by 2020. For energy, Belo Horizonte is increasing its share of renewable energy. It already boasts 300 square meters of solar panels per 1000 inhabitants, which are used for heating water and powering the City’s stadium, amongst other things. Resource efficiency also features in the plan – in 2015, the city reduced the administration’s water consumption by 30% compared with the previous year. Other actions include installing LED lights, planting trees, and partnering with the private sector through a sustainable building certification program.

Belo Horizonte is also improving its resilience to disasters such as landslides and worsening climate change impacts. Actions include a study on vulnerability and climate risk, which is being used to inform a climate adaptation and resilience plan, currently under development. Thanks to these crosscutting adaptation and mitigation efforts, Belo Horizonte is among the first cities to become Compact of Mayors compliant!

The City of Itu, Brazil, is building on its pioneering waste management program, begun in 2000. The entire city is covered by waste collection, which includes partial coverage of selective waste collection, ecological recycling of construction debris, and underground waste collection systems. Itu’s waste management is exceptional for a Brazilian city – its recycling unit, for example, collects 10% more waste than the national average.

For the next phase, Itu plans to construct a waste treatment center. In the short term, the 30 year 80 million euro project includes plans for a mechanized sorting and recycling center and further facilities for managing waste from civil construction. For Itu, the goal is to have the least amount of waste sent to landfills, which contribute to GHG emissions. To support this goal, the city also offers a variety of environmental education programs to encourage behavior change toward more sustainable lifestyles.

Recife is working to be a more inclusive, resilient city, putting humans at the center of urban development through participatory approaches that target the urban poor. A low lying city, Recife residents are vulnerable to flooding and landslides – especially those living in the City’s 547 informal settlements. Recife is proposing to reduce these risks and overcome the division between informal and formal areas through urban development interventions in 30% of the city.  

These interventions may include the provision of decentralized solid waste management, permeable pavement, rain gardens, sewage collection linked to treatment plants, green city streets and degraded areas, and LED lighting.

All of these actions would improve the quality of life for Recife residents, but support is needed for implementation. For example, the City is ready to pilot participatory urban transformation projects in poor areas, applying best practices that can be replicated and expanded within the city. If fully funded, the project would benefit half of the total population of the city.

The City of Fortaleza is looking to expand green areas in the city to 15 meters per person as part of its environmental policy launched in 2013. This policy focuses on the integration of the natural and built environment with components focused on environmental education, sustainability, biodiversity, water, and pollution control, among others. The end goal is improved quality of life for its citizens.

The city has already begun to implement its afforestation project – with the support of donations, the participation of the private sector which has “adopted” parts of the city, and the support of civil society to green city sidewalks. Now, additional funds are needed to move the project forward. These would be used to research and pilot a planting and maintenance plan, to build capacity for continued implementation, and to deliver a complementary environmental education plan.

The session showed how Brazilian cities continue to be pioneers in the area of inclusive and sustainable urban development. It also illustrated how support for further capacity building, awareness raising, and implementation could help these cities go further, faster, toward their goals.