Visionary leadership discuss pressing urban issues at the Mayors’ Summit


Foto: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis Foto: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis The visionary leaders who reinvented their cities and today are examples of political commitment, management and focus on sustainable development opened the Mayors’ Summit earlier this afternoon, in Cidade das Artes, Rio de Janeiro. Ken Livingstone (London), Jaime Lerner (Curitiba), Mary Jane Ortega (San Fernando), Enrique Peñalosa (Bogota) and Sam Adams (Portland) were welcomed by Andrew Steer, WRI President; Ani Dasgupta, Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities; and Luis Antonio Lindau, Director of WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis. The ceremony was hosted by Mayor Eduardo Paes and had the participation of Marcio Lacerda, President of the National Front of Mayors (FNP).

“We have here today some of the leaders that are part of the revolution of cities. We will learn a lot from them these days and from the Brazilian cities represented here. Many Brazilian cities are leading this revolution”, stated Steer. “The big problem is that cities are growing the wrong way. For years we have built our cities for cars, which resulted in traffic fatalities, pollution. Today and throughout the Congress we will be discussing ways to overcome this", he said.

The Mayors’ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress, to be held on September 10-11, mark EMBARQ’s completion of ten years of operations in Brazil. During the afternoon, the former mayors shared stories, barriers and victories that have helped raise them to the level of transformational leaders.

“This event celebrates 10 years of EMBARQ, an organization that has been a partner of the city of Rio with the BRT network, which will be 150 km long. Investment in high-capacity public transport is one of the greatest Olympic legacy we will leave the city. I am honored to be part of this meeting today to build more sustainable cities”, thanked Mayor Eduardo Paes.

In the audience, 350 people – including more than 100 city representatives from around the world – attended the debate in order to learn from the successful experiences of international mayors and thus overcome the obstacles that still stand in the way of building more humane and sustainable cities. “It is an honor to be in the event that also celebrates EMBARQ’s 10 years in Brazil. The organization has been a key partner of many Brazilian cities in different transport projects. Belo Horizonte is very grateful to the organization. We’ve had a vigorous evolution in public transport in recent years with the help of EMBARQ Brasil”, said Lacerda, Belo Horizonte Mayor.


Management and leadership for more egalitarian cities

Mediated by WRI President Andrew Steer, the participants of the Mayors’ Summit were invited, in the first round of discussion this afternoon, to present the ‘recipes’ to make their cities more environmentally responsible and socially egalitarian. Ken Livingstone (London), Jaime Lerner (Curitiba), Mary Jane Ortega (San Fernando), Enrique Peñalosa (Bogota), Sam Adams (Portland) and host and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes faced different scenarios; however, they used similar solutions to fight bureaucracy and the opposition.

Leadership, management and planning were the guidelines that helped these leaders achieve real changes. In order to outline the planning process, however, the goal to be reached must be clearly defined, said mediator Andrew Steer, who raised the question for debate: “When you became mayor, what future did you envision for your city?”

Eduardo Paes has the important mission of building one of the major public legacies Rio has ever seen, with the Olympic Games. “I’d say that the redevelopment of Porto Maravilha is a symbol of what we want for our city: that the city gets closer to its people, that people do not spend so much time in transit, and that they live and enjoy the city”, he said. For the mayor of Rio, an important step towards the construction of a common vision of city is to identify the weaknesses. “We have to be sure where we want to go, strategically. We must determine the problems from the data, when available. So we can have an idea of what we’ll deal with”, he added.

With the support of data, Ken Livingstone took office as London’s mayor and knew that something urgent needed to be done to overcome traffic congestion in the English capital. He decided, supported by the municipal technical team, to implement the bold congestion charging scheme in central areas. “If I didn’t solve the congestion problem I knew that London could lose its residents to Paris, Brussels or other global capitals”, he explained. The opposition was tough but the current results show that the effort was worth it: the city secured a 14% increase in public transport users. “Congestion charging has contributed to the increased use of public transport. If I had to choose, I’d do it again”, he said.

Peñalosa also took a bold step. The former Bogota mayor implemented the emblematic TransMilenio BRT system, currently with a daily ridership of 2.2 million people on 113 km of busways. He also led a large-scale revitalization of public spaces and urban parks and built more than 250 km of cycleways. “When you prioritize cars over people you convey the message that cars are more important and we do not want that. For the first time we changed this reasoning. We tried to build a more just and sustainable city”, he explained. “During my government we wanted to make people happier, but that is a relative notion, so we settled on egalitarianism and decided to build a city where everyone feels equal and enjoy walking on the streets", said Peñalosa.


Climate change, a challenge for cities and mayors

After a short break, the debate was taken up  with one of the most poignant contemporary concerns – climate changes. Andrew talked about the initiatives that city leaders can take to mitigate the effects of climate change and fight the problem. Jaime Lerner, former Curitiba mayor highlighted that the many concerns about urban life in cities today cannot be forgotten by their leaders:  “The effort a city makes to improve the quality of life of people reflects in all other aspects of urban life. No city can escape the problems of its population but all should keep in mind the problems affecting all mankind: mobility, sustainability and sociodiversity”.

Sam Adams, who led the transformation in Portland, stressed the importance of rethinking our habits and the impacts it could have on our everyday lives in cities:  “The less people drive, the more they save – they don't spend money buying and keeping cars and contribute to reducing emissions and improving air and life quality in cities.  It is a challenge for local residents and mayors, but we must face them, exchanging opinions and experiences, so as to avoid past mistakes”.

Mayor of San Fernando, in the Philippines, for three tenures, Mary Jane Ortega has been awarded with several awards for her achievements as mayor. Coming from the Asian continent, where damages caused by climate changes are more frequent, she states: “Probably many here do not directly feel the effects of climate changes. But when we see ten thousand people killed by a hurricane, we change our perspective. In Asian cities, natural phenomena devastate the lives of thousands of people. This is why I am happy for making my share. It may be small, but it is another step towards change.”


A gift for the cities

As a way of celebrating its ten years of activity with Brazilian cities, EMBARQ Brasil launched the book Mobilidade em 1 Instante (Mobility in 1 Instant). The publication joins pictures and texts to tell the stories of ten cities EMBARQ Brasil worked with in the past decade. Rejane Fernandes, our Strategic Relations & Development Director, summed up what the publication of the book represents: “With this book, we celebrate ten years of work of EMBARQ Brasil. It brings stories of ten cities that have made part of our history in this past decade. These are moments of mobility – a ride in the square, a date, a look. It is a gift of EMBARQ Brasil to all here today.”



Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis

When celebrating 10 years, EMBARQ Brasil becomes WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities. The goal is to go beyond the work focused on transportation to reach even more transforming results in urban areas throughout the country. The official launching of the new brand was made by Andrew Steer, Chairman of WRI - World Resources Institute, accompanied by the Director of the program in Brazil, Luis Antonio Lindau; and the Director of the global program, Ani Dasgupta. The announcement was made this afternoon, during the opening ceremony of the Mayors’ Summits.

What started as a work on urban mobility is now the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the WRI global program for cities, “It is hard to sum up in a few words the work of tem years. We have worked really hard. Now, it is time to move forward and change – for the better. We will continue looking for solutions to have better and more sustainable cities”, stated Luis Antonio Lindau, Director of WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities. Ani Dasgupta, Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, talked about the expectations and goals of the new program: “Our mission is very simple: help cities to achieve a higher level of sustainability through planning and efficiency. This is what we will look for with WRI Cities. We hope to shape the global debate, listening to all and building cities networks.”

Powered by this purpose, WRI now expands its fields of work in the country and EMBARQ Brasil becomes part of a much larger whole. In a natural strengthening process, WRI and EMBARQ fuse their lessons learned, expertise, and fields of work in 2015 to keep up with the complexity brought by fast urban growth. What started as a work on urban mobility is now the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the WRI cities global program. Locally, it is the WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities.

Andrew Steer Answers 4 Key Questions on the Brazil Mayors Summit


Andrew Steer Andrew Steer 1. More than half of world’s population now lives in cities, where emission levels and stress rates are the highest. What can city leaders do today to mitigate climate change?

Andrew: Any solution to global climate change must put cities at its core. Cities today produce 75 percent of the world’s carbon pollution. But they are also centers of economic activity, innovation and creativity.

City leaders can do many things to drive down carbon emissions. Fortunately, these actions are also just good ideas to improve city design and efficiency.

First, cities need to measure their carbon greenhouse gas emissions every year. They need to have a plan to reduce their carbon emissions and they need to have a clear set of actions that would help to reach their target. They need to publish their results each year, allowing the public to know if they are making progress.

They can immediately put in place new building codes, and immediately start switching from private, car-based transportation to public-based transportation. Then, they will very quickly look again at their energy mix. They will start to demand more renewable energy, shifting away from fossil fuel energy that leads to air pollution and causes health problems that drain productivity.

City leaders can start today. And many mayors are doing just that.


2. Most developing countries, including Brazil, face difficulties in bringing people, municipal managers and other stakeholders together to work for a better urban future. What do you believe is the first and most important step to break down these barriers to positive urban change? Why?

Andrew:  It seems to me that the starting point is to ask citizens: Are you happy with the way that life and the economy of the city work? Are you happy with the fact that we lose productivity due to congestion, and more income is lost to air pollution, which also makes people less healthy? Are you happy that it takes people two, three or more hours to get to work and that this eats away at income?

The former Mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner has said that if you can set a clear vision of where you want to go, are able to communicate with your citizens and have a decent ability to implement your actions, you can change a city’s direction in the political lifetime of a mayor. 


3. WRI’s long-term goal has been to turn ideas into action for a more sustainable world. To this end, what are the main goals and opportunities for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities?

Andrew: WRI’s focus on sustainable cities draws on the foundation of its urban mobility program, EMBARQ. For more than a dozen years, WRI has had staff on the ground in cities in Mexico, Turkey and Brazil, and we have worked with city leaders for success. EMBARQ has been a creative force for clean and healthier transport options, like the bus rapid transit systems that now operate in more than 160 cities.

Recognizing that cities are the heart of today’s sustainability challenges, we are building on our mobility work to look at entire cities. This includes looking at urban form and land use planning and understanding the connections between fiscal policy and governments at the local and national levels. We also have to improve water and energy systems. We understand that in order to create sustainable cities of the future, we need to look at cities in a holistic way.

That’s what WRI Ross Center aims to do. We want to build upon the deep expertise we have in transport and the growing understanding of urban design to help city officials create cities that are better for people. We want cities that are compact, connected and efficient. We are identifying new approaches and then we are working with local partners — in government, the private sector and civil society — to bring urban solutions to scale.


4. The Mayors Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress will gather public managers, decision-makers, technicians and NGOs to discuss ways to turn ideas into action. What are your expectations of these events?

Andrew: Brazil brings together all of the opportunities and challenges of urban development. Yes, you can have urban poverty and unrest. But you also find the vibrant hubs of creativity and innovation and vision. The Mayors Summit and Congress will bring together city leaders and officials to explore the ideas that are at the heart of sustainable urbanization. We will engage in vigorous discussion, uncover new ideas, as we bring together many of today’s top urban thinkers in Brazil and around the world.

These events also offer an opportunity to highlight the tremendous contributions of EMBARQ Brasil, which has become one of the most recognized and respected actors in urban mobility in the country and beyond. Over the past decade, EMBARQ has embraced the challenge of urban mobility and now, combined with our staff in WRI Brasil, this organization is looking to take the next step to tackle sustainable cities. Our Brazilian team has done the hard work in organizing the Summit and Congress. I’m just happy to play a small part in what will be an extraordinary few days focused on creating sustainable cities.


Corporate Mobility: the example of the Administrative City of Minas Gerais State Government


For decades, and in some cases even today, building overpasses and enlarging roads and streets have been an attempt to solve traffic problems in urban centers. This “solution”, however, proved obsolete and inefficient as providing more space for cars invariably attracts more cars. Today, in order to optimize the use of the existing infrastructure and transport systems as well as to balance space distribution, cities are beginning to adopt new models and solutions. One such solution is Travel Demand Management (TDM), a topic that will be addressed at the Cities & Transport International Congress, to be held in September in Rio de Janeiro.

TDM seeks to rationalize the use of cars by encouraging public transport and non-motorized modes. These incentive measures can be applied by companies and cities to improve local mobility and some inspiring examples are beginning to emerge in Brazil  – such as the Administrative City of the Minas Gerais Government, in Belo Horizonte,  currently working towards the implementation of a corporate mobility plan.

Inaugurated in 2010, the new seat of government of Minas Gerais houses Palácio Tiradentes, state department buildings, the Minas and Gerais buildings, a community center and the Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek Auditorium, in addition to equipment support units. The complex has approximately 270 square meters of built area and at least 17,000 employees – but it is located 20 km from downtown Belo Horizonte.

Photo by Osvaldo Afonso/Imprensa-MG Photo by Osvaldo Afonso/Imprensa-MG According to Renato Ribeiro, Undersecretary for Transport Regulation of Minas Gerais, transferring the seat of government to the new address “caused changes for most employees, increasing transportation time and costs”.  Given the new circumstances, it was necessary to rethink the space organization and transport dynamics of employees. With technical support from WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil, the Administrative City is working on the development of a corporate mobility plan, which should include incentives to promote a more sensible use of cars among the employees.

As a first step in the development of the plan, a managing committee was established, consisting of members of the Department of Transport and Public Works (SETOP) and the Department of Planning and Management (SEPLAG).  According to Ribeiro, implementing the plan in the Administrative City will not only set a new mobility management model but also bring positive impacts for the entire area: “Corporate mobility plans are important tools to improve local mobility, but they end up resulting in improvements for the entire surrounding area. SETOP, as the department responsible for the mobility management of the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Area, supports the implementation of these measures”.

Having decided on the players involved in the plan’s development, one of the key points for the successful implementation of a corporate mobility plan is to engage employees as well as managers. When they feel that the management teams are committed, for instance, people are encouraged to change their habits as well. Grasielle Esposito, Intendant of the Administrative City of Minas Gerais and one of the speakers on TDM at the Congress, believes the corporate mobility plan is vital to promote humanization in the AC: “The project is part of a humanization plan for the Administrative City, which is now a priority for our Office. This process involves, among other factors, improving the access and sustainability conditions of the complex and its services – and corporate mobility plays a key role as it is directly related to improved quality of life for employees”.

Foto: Osvaldo Afonso/Imprensa-MG Foto: Osvaldo Afonso/Imprensa-MG To get people engaged and ensure a successful project implementation, a TDM questionnaire, developed by the WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil team, was distributed to employees. The document includes a number of questions to determine the transport pattern of the people working on the site, such as what transport modes they use the most, how long they spend commuting every day, whether there is work schedule flexibility, and which incentives would lead them to use more sustainable transport modes and leave their cars at home.

The questionnaire had the highest response rate among the surveys applied in the AC – four thousand –, suggesting that mobility is a relevant issue and that people are interested in making changes. Using the information from this survey, it will be possible to outline an accurate picture of the transport pattern of employees, map their needs and thus implement the most adequate solutions to the local context. “It is a solution that brings benefits to companies, employees and the whole community, increasing transportation alternatives and reducing traffic jams and pollution. The Administrative City mobility plan, in addition to providing benefits to employees, is an example of the policies the government wants for the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Area”, says Ribeiro.


Smart path towards mobility

TDM strategies bring positive impacts for employees as they help reduce the time spent on transport, improve their quality of live and save time and money. Cities are also benefited – by reduced traffic jams and emission rates and by improved local mobility.

Incentives for sustainable transport options, such as bicycle racks and changing rooms for bikers, preferred parking space for carpooling, bonuses for those who opt for public transport as well as charter bus for employees, are some measures that could encourage behavior change and contribute to reducing the use of cars as the main means of transport.

Foto: Osvaldo Afonso/Imprensa-MG Foto: Osvaldo Afonso/Imprensa-MG

Thus, TDM provides real opportunities for cities to make an intelligent use of the existing infrastructure and transport services and to create more favorable conditions to encourage sustainable transport options. The example of Minas Gerais Administrative City shows that organizations are beginning to be concerned about the quality of life of their employees both inside and outside the workplace, recognizing the impact that transport conditions have on productivity and quality of life. In short, TDM measures have the potential to change the way we get around, expanding the scope of action of companies and city governments and thus contributing to our journey towards more sustainable cities.


Saving lives with sustainable transport


Traffic can have several meanings. It could be a time to read on the bus, listen to the news on the radio, stretch out on the bike or get stressed behind the wheel.  In terms of car accidents, however, the statistics speak for themselves. Brazil is the fourth deadliest country in this regard. Unless measures are taken, more than 40,000 Brazilians this year alone will not be lucky enough to get home.

Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil

The mission of saving lives lies with the whole society. But who should do what? The “Sustainable Transport Saves Lives” panel, to be held at the Cities & Transport International Congress, will bring together renowned experts to talk about this issue, sharing ways to integrate road safety with urban planning and successful such examples.

The congress, to be held on September 10-11 in Rio de Janeiro, will feature more than 130 speakers from different areas and countries. Registration is now open. Click here to learn more.


Cities turning ideas into reality

Around the world, 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents – it is as if 8 Boeing airplanes crashed every day. Considering that more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas – in Brazil the rate is 85% – the role of cities is quite clear. We must create road safety policies and mechanisms such as infrastructure for sustainable transport, speed reduction rules, enforcement, education.

The EMBARQ Network produced a video showing transport solutions for public spaces in order to preserve what is most valuable in cities – people’s lives. The work is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.


São Paulo and Fortaleza join the Global Road Safety Initiative

The controversy surrounding the speed limit reduction in Marginal Tietê and Marginal Pinheiros last month in São Paulo echoed across the country.  Opposed by some, celebrated by others, the measure proved efficient. There was a 30% decrease in car accidents compared to the same period last year. A WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil survey also shows the benefits of reducing the speed limit in urban roads.

In these places the maximum speed limit for cars was reduced from 90 km/h to 70 km/h on express lanes; from 70 km/h to 60 km/h on median lanes, and from 70 km/h to 50 km/h on local lanes. For heavy vehicles, a reduction from 70 km/h to 60 km/h on express lanes was established, as shown in the image below:

Foto: Prefeitura de São Paulo Foto: Prefeitura de São Paulo

Brazil’s largest city also decided to set a 50 km/h speed limit for all avenues until the end of the year.

São Paulo and Fortaleza are part of the select list of ten cities in the world supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Initiative. Over 5 years the program will invest US$ 125 million to implement city-level interventions to save lives. The selected cities will receive senior-level, full-time staff to work within city governments on their road safety initiatives for up to 5 years; comprehensive technical assistance from the world’s leading road safety organizations; training for police officers and other relevant city staff; and support to create hard-hitting mass media campaigns.

With technical support from WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil, each city developed a work plan focused on Safe Mobility & Safe Roads for the next two years.

In São Paulo, the program includes speed limit reductions; bus system priority projects; infrastructure for bicycle use; pedestrian safety, and implementation of 40 km/h zones. In Fortalezathe work focuses on bus and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) systems ; cycling infrastructure; treatment of critical points; and speed limit reduction.

The challenges of public transport in the metropolitan context


Foto: Agência Brasília/Flickr Foto: Agência Brasília/Flickr To improve city mobility and development, we must  think about urban issues from a perspective that crosses city limits and create solutions relating to the needs and interconnections of the whole region. With integrated operations, the metropolitan areas of a state act as an extended organism, being mutually accountable for the organization, planning and implementation of services.

The Statute of the Metropolis, enacted in January 2015, provides foundations and guidelines for integrated urban management and determines a period of three years for cities to produce their Integrated Urban Development Plan (PNDI). According to the new legislation, the cities of metropolitan areas now have legal support to share governance of public functions of common interest, such as public transport services.

At the Cities & Transport International Congress, this subject will be the focus of session The challenge of public transport in the metropolitan context, on September 10, at 2 pm. Vicente Loureiro, Undersecretary for Regional and Metropolitan Urbanism of the State of Rio de Janeiro; Riley Rodrigues, Senior Specialist on Industrial Competitiveness and System Investments at FIRJAN; Cássio Taniguchi, SUDERF Superintendent General; Severiano Macedo, Business Development Manager at Cisco; and Flavio Almada, MetrôRio President, will discuss how different regions are preparing to meet the requirements provided at the Statute and their progress so far.

Considering that at least 100 million Brazilians live in metropolitan areas and urban agglomerations and that city growth is often poorly planned, measures are needed to guide the development of urban centers and foster sustainable mobility.  When the metropolitan context is taken into account, beyond municipal limits, management challenges become more complex. At the same time, however, there are more opportunities to work on mobility at a larger scale, reaching more people and different transport modes. Developing the public transport system in metropolitan terms, with integrated planning between cities, allows addressing different and specific transport needs – such as commuting.


Brazilian actions

The Statute of the Metropolis is recent, but Brazil already has good examples of metropolitan areas that joined forces to solve urban issues. Rio de Janeiro created the Metropolitan Chamber for Governmental Integration and the Executive Group for Metropolitan Management, responsible for commissioning and managing the Metropolitan Area development plan,  where mobility is a highlight. Minas Gerais is developing the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Plan and working on the Mobility Plan.

Another example is the Urban Mobility Plan for Greater Florianópolis – PLAMUS. The plan development process involved the coordination of research, surveys, analyses and propositions to map the mobility requirements of the 13 cities included in the metropolitan area: Anitápolis, Rancho Queimado, São Bonifácio, Angelina, Antônio Carlos, Águas Mornas, São Pedro de Alcântara, Santo Amaro da Imperatriz, Biguaçu, Governador Celso Ramos, São José, Palhoça, and Florianópolis. WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil provided technical support in the social engagement aspect of the plan, primarily concerned with governance, establishing multiple formats of dialogue and transparency with the community and partners.

The plan and solutions for the cities were developed following a key guideline: promote improved integration, sustainability and quality of life to people in the metropolitan area of Florianópolis.


How open data can transform the cities of the future


dados dados The exponential growth of the amount of data available both for citizens and decision makers raise some questions about the way we use this information. First of all we must assume that today we live in two worlds: the physical world and the digital world. A growing number of technology initiatives cross the barrier of physical reality. Cloud computing, big data, and open data provide cities with new prospects to improve service integration and efficiency. The adequate use of these tools allows communities to have a more straightforward interaction with their cities and governments.

According to the Cisco report, global Internet traffic in 2019 will be equivalent to 64 times the volume of the entire global Internet in 2005. Just imagine the amount of data users will generate every day. To discuss this issue, Technology Architect of Future Cities and OpenGlasgow Manager Colin Birchenall will speak on the panel Cities, open data and transparency, which will also have the participation of Gustavo Maia, Colab Cofounder, voted the world’s best urban app at the AppMyCity contest; Cesar Taurion, Litteris Consulting Founder and CEO; Nina Lualdi, Senior Director for Transformational Initiatives and Strategic Investments at Cisco Brasil; and Alessandro Saraceni, Program Manager at Transport Systems Catapult, UK. The panel will be mediated by Ciro Biderman, SPTRANS Chief of Staff.


Cities, open data and transparency

“Everyone can be active participants in decision-making that affects the city, such as economic resilience and growth, quality of life, well-being and environmental sustainability”, says Colin Birchenall, Open Glasgow Program Manager and speaker at the Cities & Transport International Congress, in Rio de Janeiro.

Colin and his team believe that the city is made of people, both in terms of decision-making and creativity. Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and the third largest in the United Kingdom. A few years ago, the city won a contest with 29 other cities and won a 24 million pound funding to implement the program Open Glasgow, part of Glasgow Future Cities (GFC), a project to place locals at the forefront of technology integration and innovation.

The program sees each resident as a common denominator of the city’s character and history. Today virtually all results of human activity and knowledge are captured by the Internet, devices or sensors. For Open Glasgow this data is raw material. In order to improve sustainability in the city, for instance, the program mapped all major recycling stations and solar photovoltaic panel manufacturers. Using open data, they were able to develop a renewable energy map with relevant information for the citizens.

Colin Birchenall’s idea is based on realistic data analysis. He contends that if we have the right raw material, we can create amazing projects. Having open data and knowing how to use it to benefit the city empowers its residents to create new solutions to old urban problems. Access to information is vital if we want to use it as tools to improve the livelihood in urban centers.

Although the amount of data is already high in cities, new techniques and mechanisms are not fully harnessed to use this information in an innovative way. Colin Birchenall argues that in order to solve our urban problems and facilitate the daily life of people we must create a culture of open data and use effective tools to apply the existing data.

Governments, communities and individuals have (and are constantly producing) data about their own cities. In recent years we have experienced a radical change of culture as much of this data was not available and now it is open, providing space for sharing. Therefore, the experience of a single individual can benefit many other citizens.




Planning and vision: urban legacy


Photo by Luísa Zottis/EMBARQ Brasil Photo by Luísa Zottis/EMBARQ Brasil

When the infrastructure of sustainable transport transcends its primary role of taking people from one point to another and modifies its surrounding, cities are left with a legacy.

MOVE busways, the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system in Belo Horizonte, reflects this ideal. They revitalized the downtown area, where important economic and social activities take place and thousands of people circulate every day. Previously a road for cars, today a pedestrian mall with bus and bike lanes: it is a work that won an international award for sustainable mobility.

Leader of this transformation, Mayor Marcio Lacerda will share his experience next month in Rio de Janeiro. Lacerda will present the magna lecture on “The legacy of Brazilian cities”, on September 10, at the City & Transport International Congress. Registration is now open.

Belo Horizonte, founded in 1897, is fascinating not only for its welcoming population, delicious cuisine and architecture. The history of its urban planning says a lot about how the city has been shaped so far. Just think that by the time of its first centennial the city was estimated to reach a population of 100,000; today it has 2.5 million inhabitants. See pictures below:

Urban expansion in Belo Horizonte. Left, estimate of 100,000 inhabitants in 100 years; right, urban reality. Urban expansion in Belo Horizonte. Left, estimate of 100,000 inhabitants in 100 years; right, urban reality.  

The wrong projection called for urgent planning. Between 2003 and 2010, even before the Urban Mobility National Policy was sanctioned, Belo Horizonte set up the Urban Mobility Plan, a document guiding the actions in public, private, and non-motorized transport to meet the needs of the population. It was implemented in 2013.

Belo Horizonte is not alone in the endeavor to ensure better quality of life to people with urban mobility. It has the support of international organizations and leading cities in sustainable urban mobility.

With BRT MOVE, WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil supported the city with a number of projects, including road safety audits, strategic alignments, preparation for the launch of the BRT, among others.

UN Solutions Network connects BH to leading cities around the world, particularly German Bremen, its direct partner in the project. Exchanges between the two cities and workshops marked the partnership that is benefiting Belo Horizonte with knowledge and expertise to be applied to local conditions.

The British Embassy is another ally. Last June, Belo Horizonte representatives joined the Ministry of Cities and other municipal and metropolitan governments in a technical mission to know the backstory of British urban management. The route included London, Cambridge and Milton Keynes, where participants saw up close the transport system management (see here).

Last week, British Future Cities Catapult held a workshop in the city to address urban mobility, comprehensive planning, accessibility, and British urban solutions. And on Friday 14, a workshop on accessibility brought European experts to talk about accessibility in urban mobility, a joint collaboration between WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil, BHTRANS, and the British Embassy.

Certainly no city is perfect as no work or proposal is guaranteed to solve the complex problems faced by municipalities in Brazil and around the world. However, planning, execution and vision, as well as strategic planning, are key in the search for a good urban legacy.


The way to reduce emissions in the transport industry


Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil Damage to health and the environment caused by air pollution is becoming increasingly intense and recurrent. Globally, air pollution is responsible for 3.7 million deaths per year, being the most significant environmental and health hazard in the world. Transport has a key role in this scenario as it is the industry whose emissions increase at a faster rate than any other energy using sector. And it is likely to get worse: according to IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), transport emissions could double by 2050.

Reversing this scenario is not easy and requires immediate actions to reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. Several measures regarding transport systems’ operations could be taken to reduce the negative impacts on the environment, human health, and quality of life in cities. This is what is shown in the book "Transporte, uso de energia e impactos ambientais: uma abordagem introdutória" (Transport, energy use and environmental impacts: an introductory approach), written by Márcio de Almeida D'Agosto (photo), Transport Engineer and Assistant Professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Alberto Luiz Coimbra Graduate and Research Institute (COPPE/UFRJ) and President of the National Association for Transport Research and Education (ANPET).

Targeted at students and researchers in the field, the book provides guidelines for efficient energy consumption planning in the management and operation of transport systems. In a talk with TheCityFix Brasil, Márcio D’Agosto spoke about his book and the importance of taking measures to reduce the industry’s negative impacts on the environment. In his opinion, “anything that can be done to reduce the use of private cars and to prioritize public transport and/or non-motorized modes is a good solution to help reduce emissions – from the application of technology to reduce emissions of pollutants from internal combustion engines of existing cars to people changing their habits.”

Planning: the key to more sustainable transport

Private cars, responsible for less than one-third of travels in big cities, account for 73% of greenhouse gas emissions. In urban areas that have developed following a car-oriented model, the choice of sustainable or non-motorized modes still finds many obstacles, such as lack of investment and quality infrastructure. D'Agosto believes that to change this we need to invest in mechanisms to implement what has been planned. “Many studies and plans are made in order to value this kind of alternative but there is difficulty to put these studies and plans into practice. Often the problem is lack of integration between the different projects and between government and private initiative”.

As shown in the book, planning is key for transport operations not to result in loss in terms of time, costs and damage to the environment and human health. Everyday activities such as motorized transport, often private cars, insufficient and/or ineffective options of public transport, and poorly planned goods transport logistics must be re-evaluated if a more energy-efficient model is to be achieved.

In order to elucidate these issues, an entire chapter is devoted to the analysis of how demand planning could affect energy consumption and what management procedures could be adopted to reduce consumption and emissions. "Emissions in the transport sector will probably continue to increase but it is possible to slow down the growth rate. This can be done with planning techniques that prioritize clean, non-motorized and integrated modes, using information technology to optimize the planning and operation,” he says. Asked about the future of transport in cities, D’Agosto advocates a holistic approach to achieve a more sustainable and efficient mobility.

It will be a huge challenge to reverse the current scenario. In the cities of the future, urban planning should help reorient the concept of transport. It is vital to integrate the planning of land use and occupation with transport and to understand that all these activities are part of a single system in order to tackle the urban mobility challenge.

Emissions reduction is focus of discussion at #CTBR2015

In September, Professor Márcio D’Agosto will attend both days of discussion at the Cities & Transport International Congress, which will address emissions reduction in the transport industry in three different sessions.

On September 10, session “Opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in cities” shares efficient solutions to reduce emissions. One such example is the UN SOLUTIONS Project, which promotes the exchange of innovative and sustainable mobility experiences among cities in Europe, Latin America and Mediterranean countries.

On the second day, session “Reduced emissions, better transport”, organized by the British Embassy in Brazil and Future Cities Catapult, shows that making the public transport system more sustainable is one of the key actions to reduce emissions. On the same day, emissions of greenhouse gases by the transport sector are the focus of discussion at the panel on “Clean technology transfer in Latin America and the Caribbean”. The session examines the regulatory, financial, qualification and information obstacles that hinder the development and transfer of clean technologies.


Get ready for the International Congress Cities & Transport in Rio


The Mayors Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress will bring together policy makers, experts, the private sector and civil society organizations to think about viable alternatives for the future of urban areas. The events will happen among September 9 and 11, at the Cidade das Artes (City of Arts), in Rio de Janeiro.

Multiple panels and sessions will cover the topics of urban mobility, transport-oriented development, open data, travel demand management, among others. If you have not registered yet, click here to guarantee your place at the audicnce! In order to access all the information about the event, it is available for free download the application Cities & Transport. Theapp brings a host of features so you can mark your favorite sessions on the agenda, check out the local map, and read news and other services.

Key features:

  • Schedule the sessions you want to add to your personal agenda
  • Get instant important notifications during the event days
  • Getting there/where to stay
  • Useful telephone numbers


Download it now for free for iOS or Android.


Portland Transport Director presents actions that save lives


Photo by Felicity J. Mackay/PBOT Photo by Felicity J. Mackay/PBOT

Leah Treat, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director (USA), will speak at the panel on Urban Mobility Plan at the City & Transport International Congress. The event will be held on September 10-11 at Cidade das Artes, Rio de Janeiro. Treat was invited to talk about Portland’s Mobility Plan and her previous experience at Chicago’s Transportation Department. She bikes to work every day and shares on Twitter details about her routine as a biker and as the officer responsible for mobility in Portland. At the congress, Treat will share the stage with Dario Lopes, National Secretary for Transport and Urban Mobility at the Ministry of Cities; Joinville Mayor Udo Döhler; Guilherme Medeiros, Coordinator of SC Par Technical Department and PLAMUS (Urban Mobility Plan for Greater Florianópolis); and COPPE-UFRJ Professor Rômulo Orrico, as moderator.

Treat believes that debates about transport should begin by assessing our values and questioning what kind of city we want for us and our children. When she took office at the Portland Bureau of Transportation in 2013, she noticed that the rate of fatalities in traffic accidents in the previous year had been twice the rate of homicides. Therefore, she decided to implement in Portland the Swedish project Vision Zero, which is based on the core principle that any fatality in road traffic is intolerable.

In New York, for instance, in five years of the Vision Zero project, the rate of traffic accidents involving pedestrians dropped by 50%. Treat agrees with the project guidelines and states that “every death on the roads is a failure of the government and the community”. It is a failure that cannot be put aside. Since then, Portland Bureau of Transportation has road safety at the top of priorities, having as founding pillars the changes in road infrastructure, accident prevention technology, education, and enforcement. Treat argues that road safety may even have impacts on the city economy: in Portland, traffic accidents cost US$ 150 million (R$ 516 mi) in 2013.

Another measure advocated by the expert is the concept of Road Diets, a term coined after a study carried out at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center that proposes a reconfiguration of road space. For example, a two-way, four-lane road might be reduced to a three-lane road, one travel lane in each direction and a common area in between. The concept of road diets emerged as a response to a common practice of expanding urban roads once vehicular traffic hit a certain point. The original thinking held that wider roads meant better traffic flows. However, new lanes also attract more cars, and outside the peak periods you end up with lots of wasted road space. In Treat’s view, the freed-up space should be used to add cycle lanes, for instance.

Between 1997 and 2003, three Road Diets were completed in Portland. In Leah’s first year at office, two other roads were reconfigured (SE Division between 60th-80th avenues and NE Glisan between 60th-80th avenues). A study of 20 years of accident data on all Road Diets in Portland shows that road reconfigurations reduced traffic crash rates by approximately 40%.

Before being appointed Director of Portland Bureau of Transportation, Leah was the chief of staff in Chicago’s Transportation Department. Her accomplishments include adding 48 km of cycle lanes in the city and signing a contract for a bike-sharing system that provided 300 docking stations and over 3,000 bicycles for the city.

She also worked for 12 years as Vice-Director of Columbia Transportation Department, where she helped raise tax-exempt funds to build the 11th Street Bridge. The federal loan for the construction of the bridge saved millions of dollars that local residents would have to pay in taxes.


Mary Jane Ortega: “I have learned that aside from communicating, you have to educate. If you communicate and you educate, the effects will be long lasting"


Mary Jane Ortega was mayor of San Fernando, a coastal city around 270 km from Manila, in Philippines.  She accumulates awards for her achievements in city management. Even if she has been away from the office since 2013, Mary Jane still works with cities administration. She is Special Advisor of the Global Network for Safer Cities and Iclei, member of the Resilience Committee on the Future of Public Places and Secretary General of CITYNET. “My husband would ask me: ‘why are you involved in all of these things? You don’t finish your advocacy once you are out of office. You still continue with your advocacy, even if you’re already out of public office”.

In September, Mary Jane Ortega will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Mayors´ Summit. 

Read below is an exclusive interview for WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil with the former mayor.


Which were the main achievements of your administration?

Mary Jane Ortega - The United Nations Scroll of Honor Award was for my work on empowerment of women and at the same time for espousing the city development strategy. That would be one. The second would be I’ve received an award from Konrad Adenauer for Merit of Excellence on Governance. And the third one is an award by the World Bank, which was given by the president James Wolfensohn, and it was a for the city development strategy. I also received a grant from Japan Social Development Fund because they liked my project on relocating fishermen who were informal settlers.  Even when I’m out of office, now for eight years, what we started has been institutionalized. Right now I’m working on improving the quality of education for the basic education. I’m a mentor for not only one city but I’m a mentor for local governments units in the north of the Philippines.


How difficult is to manage the city and its problems?

MJO - This has been a “macho” city, they only look at men. They always thought that only men could handle a city. When I was elected mayor they thought I would only go for culture. So they were surprised that we drop down criminality, we were able to eliminate dynamite fishing, we were able to eliminate all for drugs among youths. So, they were able to see that a woman was as capable as a man; they were ready to give the whole support.


Which are the biggest problems that Asian cities face?

MJO - Especially in the Philippines, we face the problems of climate change. We could never predict what rain risks would be, we were not preparing for the eventuality of having these earthquakes. We want to prepare our citizens to be ready and to be resilient. We try to help Asian cities to come out with the means to bring down criminality and make safer cities especially for women and the marginalized. We should come up with public places, every citizen should have public parks and it should be socially inclusive. That’s a problem in the Philippines and in some Asian cities where the population is so big that we have very few green parks. We also are trying to show that streets are not only for cars. Most of the cities in Asia are polluted, the air is bad. II was able to convince 1400 operators to change from two-strokes to four-strokes tricycles. I was able to have a very holistic approach in governance.


How is it possible to keep a growing economy without harming the environment and the urban life?

MJO - We have to have green jobs. So whenever there’s a construction it should be a green construction. When you have this and people start investing, the economy also improves. For example, we are now pushing on the use of solar energy. It’s expensive. Local governments that has money we call them to invest in solar power because they would be able to reduce their energy consumption by 35%. So this is how we encouraged them to spend on renewable energy and not just leave the money in the bank. Once money keeps rolling then the economy becomes dynamic.


In terms of city and transportation, which are the main demands of the citizens in Philippines?

MJO - What we are now pushing is for walking. If you can ride a bicycle, that you ride a bicycle. If you can take on the transport, take on the transport. These are the basic advocacies we have for transport. One frustration I have is that on the Philippines we don’t have trains, we have very limited access to trains. So this is something that we thought that our country would be able to have.


What have you learned being a mayor?

MJO - You have to learn to communicate, communicate, and communicate. Communication is the best form of encouraging and educating people. I have also learned that aside from communicating you have to educate. If you communicate and you educate, the effects would be long lasting. We hope that people would be able to internalize and own the allows for the city, for participate in the community. Right now, for the city, I’m chairman of the Multi-sectorial Governance Council of the city, an oversized committee of private individuals. This is my involvement, for my city, even beyond my term of office.


As you are coming to Rio to the Mayors´ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress, what are your expectations of these events?

MJO - My expectations is that I can learn from the lessons in the American side, that I can bring [these lessons] for Asia-Pacific. And perhaps that there are also lessons that we can also share from ours. I will be very glad to share that.


What is the phrase or the idea you want to spread to the world?

MJO - I would like to share that we have only one world; we have to take care of it. We may have to cross cultural differences and be united in our goal to preserve the world.


The right to come and go in cities



Foto: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil Foto: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil

We are talking about one of the pillars of development in active and healthy cities. An accessible city is one that makes sure people can come and go, regardless of their locomotion conditions, and which, by doing that, contributes to the improvement of the population’s quality of life as a whole. We know, however, that there is no magic. In order to incorporate accessibility to the urban environment, we need broad and overwhelming laws that can, of course, be enforced.

The Brazilian legislation regarding accessibility is considered as one of the most complete in the world. In Decree No.5296, one can find the guidelines regarding the collective means of transportation, buildings, and projects, access to information and social housing, among other aspects. In 2004, year when the decree was passed, Brazil was chosen by the International Disability Rights Monitor (IDRM) as one of the most inclusive countries in the American continent.

However, even with a modern and encompassing set of laws, in practice the implementation has proved slow and, in some cases, inexistent.

In the Cities & Transport International Congress, to be held this September in Rio de Janeiro, experts will be together to debate the bottlenecks that prevent these laws from being enforced and also who to overcome them.

Hugo Leal, federal congressman and author of the Brazilian Drunk Driving Law; Luiz Cláudio Carvalho de Almeida, coordinator of the Operating Support Center of the Public Attorney’s Office of Justice for the Protection of the Elderly and People with disabilities of Rio de Janeiro Public Attorney’s Office; and Robin King, Urban Development director at the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, will take part in the session “The right to an accessible city”, which will discuss how to turn cities into more inclusive environments, where people with different anthropometric characteristics face inequality. (Learn how to follow this debate and get to know about other themes that will be the focus of discussion during the two days of #CTBR2015.)

Accessibility and dynamics of urban spaces

Public use urban spaces must assure that people, regardless of their age and physical condition, can get around the city. More than access ramps or reserved parking spaces, accessibility has to do with the right to come and go in the city – with safety, comfort, and efficiency. Thus, it is key that these spaces are well kept, accessible, and adapted to everyone’s needs.

According to the last census carried out in Brazil, 45.6 million  Brazilian people, nearly 24% of the population, have some kind of disability. Among them, 13.2 million have a motor disability. Taking the whole world into account, 650 million people have a disability or a special need. Accessibility, then, is the factor that will guide the relation of these people with their cities, several times determining when and under which circumstances their daily displacements will take place. Circulation and access conditions interfere with the urban spaces dynamics and also in the uses we make of them: flat, broad sidewalks, without obstructions or loose stones, are more likely to attract passersby than those degraded or poorly paved.

But what makes a city accessible?

The universal design, which encompasses the architectural elements accessibility requires, takes into account the needs not only of wheelchair users, but also the needs of the elderly, foreigners, illiterate and obese people, midgets, blind or visually impaired people, deaf people, pregnant women, children, crutch users, color-blind people, those suffering with arthritis, heart conditions, among others. All of these characteristics must be taken into consideration in order to assure full access – to information, services, transport, buildings.

Integrating the elements of the universal design into the urban planning leads to social inclusion. It is a process in which accessibility needs to considered in a holistic manner – in all of its spheres, thinking about the different needs people may have. Streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, parks, and other urban areas must be properly planned to allow access for all.

Brazilian example

Given the trend of aging population in general, the need to include universal design guidelines will only grow. Anticipating this urgency, some cities are already working to promote accessibility for all, like Uberlândia (MG), the first Brazilian city to have 100% accessible collective transportation fleet, considered by the UN as one of the 100 model cities in accessibility in the world.

The Minas Gerais municipality has turned into an example city thanks to the creation, among other measures, of laws and enforcement organizations. Since 2000, when the Accessibility Center was implemented, all collective use projects started being inspected, and none of them is authorized without an accessibility project.

The result is a city where the several regions are equipped with inclusion adaptations and whose population changed its way of acting through the social integration, in large scale, of people with disabilities.

Buses on the street, cleaner air


Foto: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil Foto: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport industry have been growing faster than those from any other industry in the world. It means that urban activities, such as individual motorized displacements, insufficient collective transport, and poorly planned goods logistics, need to be reconsidered to find a more efficient model in terms of energy consumption, because the consequences to human health and the environment are serious.

In this transition, technology plays a key role: turning transport into a more sustainable industry, particularly the collective transport – key element for the mitigation of emissions. Some examples show positive effects in investing in a cleaner bus fleet for the cities.

In Brasília, for instance, last year, the full bus fleet renewal, which had a high age, brought a positive balance for air quality and citizens health. An analysis made by WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil shows that this measure, along with the restructuring of local collective transport lines and the beginning of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system, Expresso DF, has the potential of reducing 55% of greenhouse gas emission, equivalent to 200 thousand tons a year.

Now, the collective transport fleet in Brasília has Euro5 technology, with low sulfur content diesel, which emits less local pollutants. With this, in terms of particulate material only, it means a 95% reduction in emissions, equivalent to 95 tons a year. The study took into account the main local pollutants in the Federal District: CO, NO, HC, MP – and CO2, the main greenhouse effect pollutant.


Another city that invested in fleet renewal was Curitiba. Since 2005, the vehicles bought must have the Euro III technology, whose combustion is less harmful than older models. In six years, the capital city of Paraná incorporated almost the totality of its feet with this technology: 1915 buses with an. average age of 4.6 years, which resulted in 35.7% less emission than the limit set by the Brazilian legislation. Last year, for instance, 3,153 opacity tests were run, an average of 12 tests a day, in all the system. Good results resulting from this system were recently added to the incorporation of hybrid vehicles in the 2012 fleet, the “Hibribus". Powered by electricity and diesel, it replaced 10 vehicles of the “Interbairros” line in both directions.

Each locality, however, has unique characteristics related to the air, which, combined to a given type of fuel, result in different impacts in emission. A research made by Magdala Arioli, Coordinator of Climate and Transport Projects of EMBARQ Brasil, and Erin Cooper and Aileen Carrigan, Climate expert of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, tried to unveil some of the impacts of these combinations in Brazil and India.

The guiding question of this study was: which is the best fuel to reduce pollutant emissions? Magdala explains the results. “A unique technology is not the solution to reduce local pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. In Brazil, for instance, we found out that the use of Biodiesel associated to gas post-treatment technologies and even low-sulfur diesel associated to the same gas post-treatment technology is more efficient. In the Indian context, the best performance in terms of emissions that we have already found was the vehicle natural gas associated to gas post-treatment technology”.

The theme will be debated in the Cities & Transports International Congress, on September 10 and 11, in Rio de Janeiro. Register now!

People-oriented cities: present and future of mobility


Photo by Justin Sovich/Flickr Photo by Justin Sovich/Flickr It’s late 19th century. When cars first appeared and became commercially available, cities gradually reshaped to accommodate the new promise of mobility that materialized on four motorized wheels.  The possibility to get quickly from one point to another was a convenience that came to facilitate the lives of those who could afford the new mode of transport. Gradually, cars increased in number and took over the streets and our cities, bringing with them the characteristic infrastructure of urban areas, which since then have developed following a car-oriented model.

Unplanned growth results in sprawled cities and increases distances, stimulating the use of cars to travel them and often making the use of other modes impossible.  Today, with a car fleet estimated to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, street immobility due to traffic jams and exhaust fumes, cities from around the world are beginning to tackle the problem and think about solutions to develop more sustainable urban environments.

For this change to happen, however, many political, economic and cultural challenges must be overcome. In order to discuss actions to overcome the obstacles that are still blocking our way to building people-oriented cities, experts from different countries will meet in September for the Cities & Transport International Congress. Alexandros Washburn, director of the Center for Coastal Resilience and Urban Xcellence (CRUX) at Stevens Institute of Technology; Marina Klemensiewicz, secretary for Habitat and Inclusion for the City of Buenos Aires; Ricardo Montezuma, director of Fundación Ciudad Humana; Javier Garfio Pacheco, mayor of Chihuahua (Mexico); and Clarisse Cunha Linke, executive director of ITDP Brasil, will participate in the session “People-oriented cities” to discuss successful examples and lessons learned by different cities that have already begun to follow this path.


Cities that were reshaped for people

Walking is the most democratic way to get around, and more: it means taking the urban space, seeing the city and being part of it. Rethinking mobility to prioritize people and active transportation has gradually become a guideline for urban areas in different parts of the world. Check out the examples of four cities that work to ensure accessibility, safety and comfort for pedestrians and thus move towards a future of people-oriented cities.


Copenhagen, Denmark

The Danish capital is world famous for having the bicycle as the main means of transport – more than half the population of Copenhagen bikes to work every day. The city also pioneered the pedestrianization movement and implemented the first pedestrian-only zones back in the 1960s. Today, these car-free areas are all over the city, and different modes of transport coexist in the urban space. Copenhagen’s transformation is primarily the result of architect Jan Ghel's work, based on the concept that prioritizing the pedestrian and active transportation is vital to improve the quality of mobility and build a better city for people.


Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki’s plan is to create a city with more compact, walkable and interconnected neighborhoods, focusing on active and public transport. The goal is that people walk or ride a bike for everyday transport, eventually making it completely unnecessary to own a car. Thus, an app currently being tested allows people to instantly call up a taxi or bike from the local sharing program or find the nearest bus or train lines. The idea is: the more people in the city, the fewer cars will be allowed on the streets.


Bogota, Colombia

Bogota's transformation was led by former mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who, during his mandate, worked to change the face of the city and make the Colombian capital an example of prioritization of people in the urban environment. Bogota has now 376 km of bike lanes, tree-lined streets, revitalized parks and public spaces, housing program, thousands of square meters of recovered sidewalks, strong travel demand management policies, as well as restriction on parking and cars on the streets. This is why the city is universally recognized for urban mobility innovations and social justice.


Paris, France

In Paris downtown, non-residents can no longer drive a car on weekends, and it is likely that the measure will go into effect for the rest of the week.  Over the past few years, several measures have been implemented to encourage the use of active and sustainable transportation modes to reduce traffic jams and emissions in the city. Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s goal is to double the number of bike lanes by 2020, eliminate diesel-fueled cars, and reserve some roads for electric or low-emission cars. Gradually the results begin to be noticed: after 2001, the rate of Parisians who do not own a private car increased from 40% to 60%. Currently, 32% of everyday transport is on foot and the city has at least 560 km of zones 30


Mobility plans: sustainable transport in the first place


Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil 2012 marked a new and important stage for Brazilian cities, when the National Urban Mobility Policy went into effect. With the new legislation, the configuration of mobility is expected to be restored, having public and sustainable transportation at the top of priorities.

For the first time the country allocated R$ 30 billion from the PAC (Growth Acceleration Program) so that more than 60 cities could turn urban mobility projects into reality and improve the quality of life of their populations. In order to have access to the funds, however, municipalities with 20,000 inhabitants and more in metropolitan areas were required to submit their mobility plans by April 2014.

Some did not abide by the norm, compromising future projects, but others worked hard to timely develop consistent plans. Two examples come from the State of Santa Catarina: Joinville and Greater Florianópolis, where the development of plans had a key player, the population, as well as the help of international experts to solve local problems. Learn more about these stories.

Collaboration and vision for PlanMob Joinville

With 500,000 inhabitants, Joinville is Santa Catarina’s most populous city. On the horizon, the ambition to become a city where walking, cycling, and public transport are the first choice of residents. This vision was crucial for developing an ambitious plan, moving away from car-oriented development and towards the people.

Approved in March 2015 by Mayor Udo Döhler e Minister of Cities Gilberto Kassab, the PlanMob Joinville was a collective work, having the active participation of the population and technical support of WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil to develop the methodology and best practices. Goals include:

  • Transport on foot: 15 minutes will be the maximum walking time to access urban green areas for leisure and recreation; halve the number of traffic-related accidents and fatalities by 2020.
  • Bike: implement 730 km of cycleways by 2025; increase bike transportation to 20% by 2025.
  • Bus: Increase the use of public bus transport to 40% by 2030; obtain a 50% increase in average operating speed by 2025.

A fresh impetus for Greater Florianópolis

PLAMUS, the Urban Mobility Plan for Greater Florianópolis, was a one-year study that mapped challenges and proposed solutions to urban mobility for the 13 municipalities in the metropolitan area: Anitápolis, Rancho Queimado, São Bonifácio, Angelina, Antônio Carlos, Águas Mornas, São Pedro de Alcântara, Santo Amaro da Imperatriz, Biguaçu, Governador Celso Ramos, São José, Palhoça, and Florianópolis. WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil supported the project’s communication and social participation workshops, key points for its development.

According to the study, 1.7 million travels are made every day in the metropolitan area: 48% of which are by car or motorcycle – well above the national average of 38% –, 24% by public transport, and 25% on foot or by bike. The numbers regarding the use of the space on the bridge that connects the island to the continent are also striking. 75% of the transport is by car, taking 90% of the capacity of the bridge, and 3% is by buses, which carry 10,000 people per hour and take only 1% of the capacity.

To improve urban mobility, investments are planned in quality public transport and good sidewalks to encourage walking and cycling. Overall, 70 km of bus-only corridors are planned for the north, south and east of the island as well as the continent, with R$ 411 million allocated by Caixa Econômica Federal. The capital of Santa Catarina will also feature the SAO – Operation Support System, an operation control system with management technology, and a User Information System, through a Smartphone app with routes, lines and timetables.


What are the most polluting countries in the world?


Photo by World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr Photo by World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr One hundred and ninety nations, one future. COP 21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in December in France, should seal a universal agreement on climate actions in order to keep global warming below 2°C. Participation and commitment of 190 countries meeting in Paris will be key for the new climate framework, replacing the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, to allow a low carbon future for the survival of the Earth.

Climate change is a reality and carbon dioxide emissions must slow down. In this article, we show the world’s top ten emitters and the emission profile of some of them. Six of them are developing economies, where climate changes will have a stronger impact, especially among the poorest countries.

World Resources Institute (WRI) created a tool to help understanding the origin of emissions in major emitting countries – which together account for 72.28% of greenhouse gases around the globe. It should be noted that only half of the ten nations list have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). An INDC is a pre-commitment where countries outline their goals and intentions for the COP21 negotiations. Another WRI tool is mapping the submissions of each country.

Check which are the most polluting countries in the world:

1st - China

INDC: submitted

China’s size and fast growth rate make it a major economic power. However, its performance so far brings huge challenges, especially due to population growth. The country has 20% of the world’s population, with 1.3 billion inhabitants, and it is also the world’s largest pollutant emitter. As shown in WRI’s infographic, China’s emissions are mainly from the energy sector, as in most countries in the list. China emits 8649.8 Mt CO₂e in energy, approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions in the sector. Their commitment is to start reducing the emissions curve after 2030.

2nd - United States

INDC: submitted

The United States is responsible for 14.4% of global emissions, and the country’s energy consumption is not far below China’s, with 5460.6 Mt CO₂e. Recently, the top two global emitters signed a climate agreement to reduce their emissions. The United States’ commitment is to reduce emissions by 28% by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. A bilateral agreement with Brazil has also been signed. Commitments include increasing to 20% the share of renewable sources in the US energy mix.

3rd - European Union

INDC: submitted

Combined, the EU’s 28 member states, including countries such as Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Portugal, rank third in the list of emitters. Energy, agriculture, industry, and waste are the main consumption sources. It is worth noting that the bloc is closing in on its 20% emissions reduction target by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

4th - India

INDC: not submitted

India has 17.5% of the world's population, with 1.2 billion inhabitants. It is estimated that by 2030 the urban areas will have 590 million people – the country is the third largest emitter in the world. As in other developing countries, Indian cities face urban infrastructure and services bottlenecks that constrain the economy, but unplanned urban growth has negative impacts on climate and quality of life.

5th - Russia

INDC: submitted

6th - Japan

INDC: not submitted

7º - Brazil

INDC: not submitted

Seventh largest emitter in the world, Brazil has recently signed a bilateral climate agreement with the USA, including goals such as increasing to 20% the share of renewable sources in the Brazilian energy mix and eliminating illegal deforestation. Initiatives to mitigate climate changes are crucial, as the country might not be able to keep the good performance it has been showing so far. Brazilian emissions, unlike the ranking leaders, are almost equally divided between energy, with com 469.7 Mt CO₂e, and agriculture, with 444.4 Mt CO₂e. Industry and waste are also emission sources in Brazil.

8th - Indonesia

INDC: not submitted

9th - Mexico

INDC: submitted

10th - Iran

INDC: not submitted

Cities get ready for action

Knowing how important it is to act locally to mitigate global emissions, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have announced the creation of an event for mayors and local leaders: the Climate Summit for Local Leaders. Indeed, the initiative is vital for the success of the climate action, as urban areas represent only 2% of land territory but contribute to 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGE).

Bloomberg and Hidalgo have stated in an article that the more cities are empowered to act, the bigger national efforts will be. The role of cities in mitigating climate changes was the topic of this month’s first post on climate change at #NossaCidade, on TheCityFix Brasil.







Sam Adams: “We worked hard to make sure that we were doing good for the environment and for the economy”


Sam Adams, former mayor of Portland and Director of WRI US Climate Initiative, believes that  ​​integrated strategic planning for the city is the most efficient path to a sustainable future. While in office between 2009 and 2012, he held strong to this approach and implemented a Climate Action Plan, which aligned with the Portland Economic Development Plan. The plan contained clear emissions reduction goals for each sector and put Portland on track to achieve the city’s objective of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

In September, Sam Adams will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Mayors´ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress. Adams will also participate in the session "Cities in the new climate economy," where he will discuss the possibilities for ensuring urban development around a low carbon economy.

These events are hosted by WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil as part of EMBARQ Brasil’s 10th anniversary celebration. Below is an exclusive interview for WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil with the former mayor. Check the program and register here.


In your opinion, what are the main challenges that cities are currently facing? How do we attend to 21st century demands?

Sam Adams - The key challenges that cities face are demands for services that outstripped resources to provide them. Cities face the growing challenges of infrastructure for transportation and transit, water, sewer, food - climate impacts with more severe weather, more unstable weather, issues of droughts, floods, snowpack, heat; a growing disparity between rich and poor and the strain on middle class families.

Addressing these challenges requires cities to take an integrated approach to problem solving and work to improve local infrastructure so that it produces a range of benefits. For example, not only looking at moving more people to public transit options but also looking to reduce trips overall by building complete neighborhoods around transit stations that include diverse incomes.


We all know that is not easy to make changes happen in the city as there are many different interests at play. What were the main forces you had to work with? How did you succeed?

SA - I was mayor during a recession and the first part of my term was during the economic recession and we experienced a significant loss of jobs, a significant increase in homelessness and budget cuts at the same time. The first task was to provide and to find resources in creative ways, in cost-effective ways, to provide assistance to those who were experiencing the worst impacts of the economic recession. I looked not only within city government for opportunities to become more efficient and effective, but also gathered together all the other governments, put them together, and made a more integrated and strategic approach to the provision of public services.


Could you describe an example of an action that succeeded in moving forward this strategic plan?

SA - When I was elected mayor, I found that planning and budgeting in transportation did not come together to coordinate their budgets. So you had the light rail and the bus system, the regional system not run by the city government that was responsible for the streets and the street car system, and the bike and pedestrians programs. All of these programs had good intentions, but were not taking the opportunity to improve integration and cooperation, deciding on a year by year basis their priority for investments. Often times we would have one agency make cuts for transit services and bicycle infrastructure without looking at the disproportional impact that they were having with their decisions. So, we brought them together to begin not only looking at the strategy, but also, on a year by year basis, looking at priority investments and budget.


Portland reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by about 11% from 1990 to 2013. What were some of the steps you took to achieving this?

SA  - We got a Climate Action Plan approved when I was mayor. It was a ramping up of our efforts at being a low carbon, prosperous economy. We set a goal to reduce their GHG emissions and specific actions for each sector, which made contributions to GHG emissions reductions. So, for example, in the area of garbage and landfills, we made a major change in the services that we provided regarding to garbage, recycling and composting. We went from every-week garbage pickup to every other week garbage pickup. That program, after a couple of years, reduced the amount of garbage that we sent to the landfills by 34%. During my time on city council, we constructed 75 miles of bikeways and we were able to calculate the reduction of GHG emissions as a result of the increasing number of bike trips around the city. We were able to provide safer, cheaper means to get around in Portland. These things have an impact on the ground with real world benefits, it’s so important.


Portland was considered one of the most sustainable cities in the world. What were some of the challenges you faced, given the city’s unique characteristics?

SA - It’s a combination of our results and our actions. The fact that we had a strategy that gets updated on a regular basis is a key attribute for which Portland was recognized: having a strategy, having metrics, regularly doing a GHG emissions inventory.

The challenges are always around. The perception that you have to choose between doing good for the climate and the environment or doing good for the economy and jobs is a false choice. We worked hard to make sure that when we were doing good for the environment we were also doing good for the economy. It’s a challenge that people still think that we have to choose between the two. Also, the federal policy is not always consistent, is not always supportive to local actions around climate action and low carbon prosperity efforts. Sometimes it’s obstructed and sometimes it’s the lack of it that is the challenge.


What is the most important lesson that you learned as mayor?

SA - Acting without an overarching strategy is almost always going to be more expensive and less effective. Having an overall strategy and a strategic plan, a climate action plan, an economic development strategy, an integrated strategy for improving your city’s health, prosperity, education and equity – these things make it easier to pursue and complete a climate action initiative. It holds yourself to a high standard and people recognize that you’re not just doing climate action for climate action alone: your work is also trying to improve people’s housing, their education, their prosperity and equity. An integrated strategy and an integrated approach is the key.


What is the phrase or the idea you want to spread to the world?

SA - With smart and holistic strategic planning, focus on ‘place’ and ‘people’ for a prosperous, educated, healthy and equitable city.


The balance between economic growth and the struggle against climate changes


By Priscila Pacheco

Photo by Ed Yourton/Flickr Photo by Ed Yourton/Flickr Cities occupy 2% of the world territory, but account for 70% of pollutant emissions throughout the world. Cities are also expected to harbor 2.5 billion people by 2050. Thus, in order to assure that growing urban spaces are economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable, we need to rely on a new development perspective.

Climate changes are a reality to be faced, and decisions made today will determine the future of climate systems in the world: if nothing is done immediately, the average temperature on the planet may be 4°C higher by the end of this century, with extreme and potentially irreversible impacts for life on Earth. Even with this disturbing scenario, cities have the potential of changing development paradigms by reconciling economic growth and sustainability.

The role played by cities in the struggle against climate change will be debated in September, at the Cities & Transport International Congress, with the participation of Sam Adams, former mayor of Portland (EUA); Rachel Biderman, WRI Brasil Director; Nelson Franco, Climate Change manager for the City of Rio de Janeiro; and Délio Malheiros, Belo Horizonte Vice-Mayor and Secretary of the Environment. The discussion will be based on the 2015 report by the New Climate Economy, issued Tuesday (7) and it will be supported by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

The document introduces a global action plan and shows it is possible to fight climate changes without giving up economic growth. With the title Seizing the Global Opportunity, the report brings 10 recommendations that cities and decision-makers can adopt to improve climate and growth simultaneously.

1. Drive low carbon development in cities

Cities must commit to design and implement low carbon development strategies by 2020, giving priority to investments in collective, non-motorized, and sustainable modes of transportation, as well as to renewable energy. Besides, they must invest in sustainable urban planning, as connected and compact cities grow stronger, create more jobs, and help decrease inequality, and they should also improve quality of life through the mitigation of pollution and traffic jams. (Learn more about Urban Development Guided by Sustainable Transport.)

2. Recover and protect agricultural and forest landscapes and improve productivity in agriculture

Government bodies, financial institutions, investors, and the private sector must work together to boost the funding of soil sustainable use, in order to reach the global goal of ending deforestation and recover at least 500 million hectares of degraded areas by 2030.

3. Invest at least USD 1 trillion a year in clean energy

In order to reduce clean energy costs and attract private investments, national and multilateral development banks need to strengthen their collaboration with governments and the private sector. Besides, they must set up their own commitments, aiming at reaching a global total investment of at least USD 1 trillion dollars a year in energy efficiency until 2030.

4. Raise global energy efficiency standards

G20, as well as other countries, must raise their energy efficiency standards in key-sector by 2025. G20 also needs to develop a global platform in order to align and continuously improve these standards.

5. Implement efficient carbon taxation

Both developed and emerging economies must commit themselves to implement or strengthen carbon taxation by 2020, as well as ending grants given to fossil fuels. Setting high and growing carbon prices is an important measure to guide consumption, investments, infrastructure, and innovation; the funds generated by this taxation may be used to support low-income families or even lead to the reduction of other taxes.

6. Making sure new infrastructures are climate-smart

Developed and developing countries need to adopt some key principles to make sure that those climate-related goals and the risk imposed by climate changes are taken into account in the design of national plans and policies. These principles must be included in the G20 Infrastructure Global Initiative and may be used to steer investment strategies in the public and private sectors.

7. Foster low carbon innovation

Thinking about emission reduction and growth in the post-2030 period, government bodies from emerging and developed countries must start working together, among themselves, and with the private sector, with the purpose of signing partnerships to develop research and the development of low carbon technology.

8. Generate low carbon growth through actions taken by companies and investors

All major companies must set up short and long-term emission reduction goals and a deadline for the implementation of action plans. The main industries must agree upon market transformation programs, in compliance with the global economy “decarbonization” process.

9. Increase the ambition of reducing international emission in the maritime and aviation industries

Emissions resulting from the maritime and aviation industries need to be cut down – through the implementation of efficiency standards and measures for aircrafts and the setting up of efficiency standards for fuels used in the maritime industry.

10. Decrease the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Hydrofluorocarbons, used as soft drinks, solvents, for fire protection, and foam insulation, are the fastest-growing type of greenhouse gas in the world, at a rate of 10% to 15% a year. Replacing this gas with greener alternatives leads to low costs and may result in financial and energy savings.


As they shelter ever-growing groups of population, cities are the places where change must take place. By adopting the 3C – connected, compact, and coordinated – planning model, urban centers have the opportunity of making sure economic development will be sustainable and, at the same time, contributing to lessen the effects of climate changes.

Felipe Calderón, former president of Mexico and the chairman of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, in interview to TheCityFix, highlights the need of rethinking about urban growth as a way of mitigating climate changes: “We must build a new urban infrastructure and we need to do it as a way of creating more compact and well-connected cites. The way through which we build our cities and transport systems will determine their economic performance, the quality of life of those who live there and the quantity of greenhouse gas emission there will be in the next few decades.”

Municipal leaders meet to debate climate changes


(Photo by Tourism Secretary of  the City of Rio de Janeiro/Flickr) (Photo by Tourism Secretary of the City of Rio de Janeiro/Flickr) Floods, landslides, droughts, heat waves. Consequences of climate changes, extreme events affect whole communities and are becoming ever more frequent. Although they require encompassing mitigation measures, they count on great local allies: cities. More and more, urban managers play a critical role in coping with this reality, once globally cities account for 70% of carbon emission. Decisions made today for urban areas will impact the future of this and future generations.

With this north in mind, Brazilian urban leaders have worked to look for solutions and policies that foster sustainable development. Next September, municipal secretaries of the environment from all over the country will be together in Rio de Janeiro to debate plans to mitigate and adapt to climate changes. National and international experts will join them to foster an even more qualified debate.

The meeting will take place during the Cities & Transport International Congress, on September 11, promoted by WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil. Among confirmed speakers, we have Délio Malheiros, from Belo Horizonte, and Nelson Franco, from Rio de Janeiro, in addition to secretaries from all Brazilian capitals. Besides them, Rachel Biderman, executive director of WRI Brasil, Alice Baldo, from Future Cities Catapult, and Guilherme Jonhston, from the British Embassy, will also be at the event. The panel will be moderated by Laura Valente, WRI Brasil consultant.

This is the right opportunity for managers to exchange experiences and think about joint solutions, sharing their knowledge and intensifying cooperation among cities.

Authorities in charge of Brazilian municipal departments of the environment also met last week during the CB27 Forum, which counts on the World Resources Institute (WRI) as a partner. Projects and challenges for a low carbon future were debated. The Ministry of Foreign Relations and the WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil also took part in the meeting.

In that occasion, the manager of EMBARQ Brasil Strategic Relations, Daniely Votto, talked about transport and urban development good practices that help building more compact cities, with less motorized trips. This is the case, for instance, of Move, the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system in Belo Horizonte, and of the Minha Casa Minha Vida Housing Program in the city of Rio Grande, which is being implemented according to the principles of Development Guided by Sustainable Transport – both counting on the organization technical support. Laura Valente, WRI Brasil consultant, introduced the GHG Protocol, a WRI global tool used by government bodies and companies to understand, quantify, and manage GHG emissions.

Check out the Cities & Transport International Congress program and register now!

Cities in the information cloud


By Luísa Zottis

(Photo by City Clock Magazine) (Photo by City Clock Magazine) Today, data allow us to call a taxi by phone, discover the nearest restaurant or find the best route to work. These valuable information, when gathered and organized, can be transformed into solutions to our cities, creating positive and large-scale impacts in urban life.

When cities realize they can use data to develop urban solutions, they will finally be able to create positive and large scale impacts on citizens’ lives.                           

This is what the city of São Paulo has done, for instance, by setting up an open data policy connected with urban mobility. With this, a wave of apps came about, such as Moovit, Waze, Cadê meu Ônibus, among others, to provide collective transport users with information. The city also established a laboratory to foster innovation in mobility, the MobiLab. There, City Council, universities, and start-ups staff can think about solutions for the city together. It is a new, complex process, but which is already taking place. “These are heavy technology-related challenges, which deal with big data, and which would substantially increase the capacity of planning urban mobility in the city,” stated Ciro Biderman, in charge of MobiLab, in an interview to the blog.

By improving urban city and empowering citizens, data provides a two-way path: it allows for the development of apps and information platforms to people, and it is key for an efficient and assertive urban planning to be implemented by public managers.

Technology at hand, fast solutions

Chosen the best urban app in the world, connect citizens and public managers with the purpose of improving public services. It is a trade-off that allows each one to become a city “inspector”, assessing public management and pointing out failures and irregularities in public services (such as a damaged lamppost or a car parked in a prohibited place), and it also allows public managers to respond quickly to the request, by sending a technician to the place, and they can even refer to citizens when it comes to city issues.

Technology is a reality and it plays a clear role in building smarter cities. However, data needs to be used in an integrated and intelligent manner, so it can have a true impact on reality. In practice, we must analyze existing data so we can understand it and create strategies for new solutions, which should then be measured from time to time.

Another example comes from Barcelona, which has been using the Internet of Things to connect buses, cars, parking lots, sensors in an integrated way for a more efficient use of resources. Cisco explains how cities can use it to improve urban management in this infographic. In a WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil event, Nina Lualdi, Cisco Senior Director, highlighted that technology must be “focused on people, on how to enhance their lives. This is what it is for.”

Cities in the information cloud

Would you like to know more about this topic? At the Cities & Transport International Congress (#CTBR2015), on September 10 and 11, in Rio de Janeiro, the panel “Cities in the Information Cloud” will explore the issue. Ciro Biderman (SPTrans-MobiLab), Gustavo Maia (, Nina Lualdi (Cisco), and Cesar Taurion (Litteris Consulting) will be there to discuss how to use data in the planning, operation and management of cities, as well as how to turn intelligence in cities into smart cities. Register now!

Cities for climate action


By Luisa Zottis and Magdala Arioli.

(Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil) (Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil) Climate change is no longer an exclusively scientific issue and more and more it has been the subject of news articles and regular conversations. In the last two weeks, at least 1.2 billion catholics, and people of all faiths throughout the world, heard of the environmental encyclical released by Pope Francis as an appeal to low-carbon development. In September, the agenda will also be discussed at the Cities & Transport International Congress, in Rio de Janeiro.

Now is the time to act. In December this year, the Paris Climate Conference, COP21, will set forth the new climate targets for global nations, an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2020. Yesterday Brazil hinted what it may present in the French capital. Dilma Rousseff announced, alongside Barack Obama, a bilateral agreement for climate action, with targets such as the inclusion of 20% renewable sources in the Brazilian energy matrix, the end of illegal deforestation by 2030, and academic cooperation between Brazil and the United States to foster research in the area.

The path covered by Brazil in recent years is encouraging. Five years ago, the country made ​​a voluntary commitment to reduce emissions between 36.1% and 38.9% by 2020, and the emissions curve showed a decline from 2004 to 2012. In addition to that, more than half of the overall reduction in carbon emissions over the last 15 years came from Brazil, thanks to slowing of deforestation.

However, Climate Observatory estimates indicate that the country will not keep the good results, and not even the agreement with Obama will be enough to keep the declining curve.

Although climate change requires a set of actions in all sectors – as well as behavioral changes to mitigate emissions – there is a great ally that can help in this process – cities.

How cities may act

Cities are living organisms, constantly changing, and they are home to over half the world's population. Home to billions, urban areas occupy only 2% of the Earth territory, but account for 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Therefore, localized actions are extremely important and depend on both municipal managers and citizens.

But where do we start? The Climate Observatory indicates that GHG emissions will increase in some sectors, especially in energy – whose main emission source is the use of fossil fuels in the transport sector. In Brazil, the sector accounted for 46.9% of the emissions associated with the energy matrix.

The numbers reflect the reality of Brazilian streets, most of them jammed with cars. The demand for transportation is predominantly road-related – with 91.6% of energy consumption in 2012 – and it depends mostly on oil – 82.8% of consumption in 2012 (chart).

Focusing the action on transport is an opportunity for cities to reduce their emission levels. Ahead of this process, governments and citizens must work together to achieve good results.

The "avoid-shift-improve" strategy can be a good start to think about the issue: avoid unnecessary motorized trips, shift the motorized individual transport towards a sustainable means; and improve public policy for transport systems to become more efficient in terms of energy consumption.

Cities can qualify the infrastructure and the quality of service offered in sustainable transport, create disincentive policies to motorized individual transport and encourage more energy-efficient for their transport systems.

Brazilian cities on the way to change

The mitigation of transport emissions requires long-term commitments. Some Brazilian initiatives illustrate ways to overcome social and economic barriers to promote low-carbon development in the sector.

In Brasilia, joint actions such as the modernization of the public transport bus fleet, the use of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) systems and the restructuring of bus lines have reduced emissions of local pollutants that are harmful to human health and the environment. An Analysis by WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil showed that with the Euro5 technology buses, powered by low-sulfur diesel, particulate matter was reduced by 95%, equivalent to 95 tons per year. The positive impacts of the renovation are also due to the average age of the previous fleet, which was high.

With the full implementation of the BRT system and more efficient lines, the GHG emission reduction potential could reach 55%, equivalent to 200,000 tons per year.

With 11.8 million inhabitants, another city that has taken leadership in sustainable transport development policies is São Paulo. The megalopolis is investing massively in the implementation of cycle lanes and bus lanes. There are already over 479 km of bus lanes implemented; while cycle lanes total 303.0 km. These efforts are important because they encourage more people to adhere to new modes of transport in a city where space was restricted to cars.

In the South of Brazil, Curitiba also uses sustainable transport in order to reduce emissions. Urbanização de Curitiba, the company responsible for the operation of public transport, registered a reduction of 35,341 tons of pollutants into the environment with the renewal of the bus fleet between 2005 and 2014. More efficient fuels, as well as the use of hybrid vehicles in the fleet are also part of a broad sustainability program in the city's transport system.

“Road space belongs equally to all members of society, regardless of whether they have a car or not”


The former mayor of Bogotá reports all the struggles he had to overcome to transform Bogotá into an equitable place. Peñalosa will be in Rio de Janeiro next September to participate in the Mayors’ Summit, on September 9.

Enrique Peñalosa / Colin Hughes - Flickr Enrique Peñalosa / Colin Hughes - Flickr The Mayors’ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress, organized by EMBARQ Brasil, will discuss all the issues Peñalosa supported such as:  cities for people, transit-oriented development and the importance of having a strategic view. For more information on the program and to register, visit

While mayor, you were responsible for numerous and sometimes radical improvements in the city.  Which one brought the most happiness to people?

EP - We have made a city much more for people and less for cars.  I took tens of thousands of cars off the sidewalks and we made new sidewalks. We had TV commercials explaining sidewalks are for talking, for playing, for doing business, for kissing. We´ve made a sidewalk revolution.

Transmilênio, the BRT system, was also a very powerful equality symbol because we took space away from cars to give it to public transport. And for the first time we had the people in public transport going faster than those in cars.  It shows there is democracy, it shows all citizens are equal.

We created the Alameda El Porvenir – maybe the achievement I am most proud of - which is a bicycle highway  15  meters wide and 24 km long that thousands of people use every day to go to work.  In addition, we built the  Juan Amarillo Greenway which links the richest parts of the city to some of the poorest parts. We began to build extremely high quality schools in the poorest neighborhoods with very high quality libraries to show that knowledge is more important than wealth.

Which improvements brought the most headaches for you?

EP - The most important thing is to realize that we did what nobody else would have done. It was a completely new concept, new ideas. So we had a lot of conflicts. Maybe the most difficult one was to get tens of thousands of cars off the sidewalks. There were even some people who started collecting signatures in order to impeach me. To implement the bus system we had an enormous war against the traditional bus operators and they went on strike, they brought the city to a halt. There was also a huge war to create parks because many parks had been gated by the private sector. We also had a war when we recovered the central area that had been taken by drug dealers – an area just two blocks away from the Presidential Palace and from the central square, somewhat similar but a hundred times worse than Cracolândia in São Paulo. We had a war trying to build some public spaces and plazas that were completely taken over by vendors. The most exclusive country club, where the most powerful families were members, was expropriated in order to create a public park.

You said “You dream of a tropical city, crisscrossed by large pedestrian avenues, shaded by enormous tropical trees, as the axes of life of those cities”. Were you able to achieve this city?

EP - I was mayor for only three years and in Colombia there is no re-election in the constitution. Now, that time is longer, four years. I think the cities we have today – all cities around the world – are very wrong. We are so used to them that we think this is normal – to live in fear of getting killed. But this can’t be normal. To live in cities we have to create places where we have hundreds of kilometers of green ways, where we can have people and bicycles on the streets. So you can crisscross the city in all directions without cars. It will take us a few hundred years to correct them, but this will change at the moment we realize that what we have today is completely crazy. That’s not the ideal we should have for humans in the future.

The mayor of São Paulo is being criticized for building hundreds of kilometers of cycle paths and bike lanes. Which advice would you give to Fernando Haddad, mayor of São Paulo, or to any other mayor that seeks daring changes and faces strong opposition?

EP - What the Mayor Fernando Haddad is doing is very valiant. One of the most important ideological and political issues of our time is how to distribute road space. Road space is the most valuable asset a city has. We could find oil or diamonds on the ground in São Paulo but it will not be as valuable as road space. How should we distribute road space among pedestrians, bicyclists, public transport and cars? Road space belongs equally to all members of society, regardless of if they have a car or not – it belongs equally to somebody in a road race or a child with a bicycle. So this is a matter of democracy. Who decided we should give more space to cars than to people? Who decided we should give space to park the cars? We should remember that parking is not a constitutional right. The Government has no obligation to provide space for parking, so I think this is a very interesting and democratic discussion.

When we implemented our bikeways there were just a few cyclists. Almost no people used bicycles. We have about 3,000 people using bicycles everyday. We must remember that even in a giant city like São Paulo more than half of the people have daily trips that are less than 5 km long, so it is very possible that, in a couple of decades, we can have 20% of the population using bicycles – it is not possible in one year or two but maybe in 20 years. We have to remind people with cars that they have no more rights of road space than people who do not have a car.

What have you learned being a mayor?


EP - When I was mayor we had to completely change the city model. Nobody believed in what we were doing. Many of those things we created now seem very obvious. Now, everybody agrees that we should have big sidewalks, bike lanes, that you give priority to buses on the road. So I learned that we have to find more ways to communicate better to the citizens, to explain things better to the citizens to get them to participate more. 

To be a good mayor you need to have dreams, to have love for what you are doing.  To be a good mayor you have to be very concerned with equality. To make a city for people is to make a city where everybody is equal, where nobody is in fear or exploited. To be a good mayor, sometimes you have to make decisions that are unpopular. You have to convince people that in the end it will be good for the city.          

What is the phrase or the idea you want to spread to the world?

EP - You cannot define a transport system, although you know what kind of city you want. Cities are the most important thing we are doing in our time.  When we are defining a city, we are defining our way of life. In modern life, different from years ago, people spend less and less time at home and more time in activities outside their home. So cities are more important for human happiness than ever before. A city should be a fun place. It should be a place from which people don’t wish to escape. We have to make cities where people will be very happy in public spaces. A city should promote happiness.

Enrique Peñalosa will come to Brazil with the suppport of Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN, in Portuguese).

Urban sprawl causes damage to the economy


Sprawled cities cost the US economy US$ 1 trillion per year, according to a new study by the New Climate Economy. These costs include spending on infrastructure, public services and transport. The report “Analysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Sprawl” investigates the costs of sprawl  and the potential benefits of “smart growth” – which foster the development of more compact cities.  

Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr “In most communities there are strict limits on development densities, restrictions on multifamily housing and excessive parking requirements, which drive up housing costs and encourage sprawl.  If consumer preferences on housing are changing, government regulations should too”, says Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

Sprawl increases the distance between homes, businesses, services and jobs, which raises the cost of providing infrastructure and public services by at least 10% and up to 40%. The most sprawled American cities spend an average of US$ 750 on infrastructure per person each year, while the least sprawled cities spend close to US$ 500. The study shows that implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than US$ 3 trillion over the next 15 years.

Smart growth cities have well-defined boundaries, a range of housing options, a mix of residential and commercial buildings, accessible sidewalks, bike lanes and public transport. By reducing land consumption and, consequently,  infrastructure and transport costs, smart urban growth policies can deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits.

If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between the economy of cities and climate change, register for the Cities & Transport International Congress to be held on September 10-11 in Rio de Janeiro. The event will bring together mayors, experts, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to collectively think about viable alternatives for the future of cities.

How to increase engagement of citizens in decision-making for cities?


Imagine a city where inhabitants had meetings from time to time to discuss local problems. Imagine a city where the population opinions were incorporated by the government. A place where the will of the population would turn into political action. Carolyn Lukensmeyer puts forth innovative initiatives to engage citizens in the decision-making process of cities for over a decade and she believes this is perfectly possible.

Carolyn Lukensmeyer Carolyn Lukensmeyer

Social participation is key to strengthen democracy. The creation or the support of participation spaces increases the chance government will listen to the population’s opinion about given topics, policy-making or even resource allocation. Communities need to be represented in their totality to understand what we collectively want to see happening in our cities. 

“When an authentic opportunity of engagement in decision-making is given to citizens – when the political will is aligned to the will of people – decisions have more permanence power and the public’s trust in institutions increases,” says Carolyn Lukensmeyer.

Councils, conferences, ombudsman offices, hearings, public consultations, dialogue and negotiation meetings are some models of participation spaces. Such tools bolster the dialogue between society and government and increase the forms of social control. The emerging forms of digital participation, as well as the public demand seen in the past few years point to the need of expanding and qualifying the existing mechanisms, as well as the creation of new processes.

However, there is still lack of infrastructure and political will to enable and expand the participation in most cities, which hinder the implementation of processes that lead to effective collaboration. Local leaders often do not count on all information to make decisions or are smothered by fear that this will be damaging. This combination of fear and lack of information paralyzes any action and managers prefer not to adopt any form of governance. In order to break this taboo with information and successful experiences, Carolyn will take part in session Governance and Social Participation in the Global Scenario at the International Congress on Cities & Transport, which will approach transparency in administration and direct participation of the population in decision-making.

The International Congress on Cities & Transport will take place September 10 and 11 in Rio de Janeiro to discuss themes such as resilience, governance, and mobility. 

Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization that works to bolster participatory democracy. Carolyn is also the founder of AmericaSpeaks, which has implemented innovative ways to allow for the inclusion of citizens in the debate on a series of public policies, including the health care reform in California and Maine, New Orleans’ recovery after hurricane Katrina, the Ground Zero building in New York, and the federal budget deficit in the US. Carolyn is the author ofBringing citizen voices to the table: a guide for public managers, which provides strategies and best practices to authentically engage citizens.


Former Portland Mayor is in!


Sam Adams, the latest speaker confirmed for the Mayors’ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress, played a central role in establishing the city of Portland, Oregon, as one of the best and most sustainable cities to live in the United States. 

Foto: Team Sam Adams/Flickr Foto: Team Sam Adams/Flickr

As mayor, Adams ensured the inclusion of sustainability at all decision-making levels by integrating the issue into the city planning. He also led a coalition of government, business, community and environmental leaders to create Portland’s Climate Action Plan.  Currently, Sam is the director of WRI’s (World Resources Institute) Climate Initiative, in Washington, DC, and leads efforts to analyze and develop new policies and to support new coalitions that foster the US transition to a low carbon economy. 

Sam Adams will participate as a speaker in the session “Cities in the New Climate Economy” at the International Congress. Experts, politicians, managers and organizations of the civil society will be together in two days of panel discussions and lectures focused on sustainability at the Cities & Transport International Congress to be held on September 10-11 at Cidade das Artes, Rio de Janeiro.

The congress is part of the 10th anniversary celebration of EMBARQ Brasil, which also includes the Mayors’ Summit, where local leaders from around the world will share the stage for the first time in an interactive talk about the future of cities. Jaime Lerner, Ken Livingstone, Enrique Peñalosa, Mary Jane Ortega, as well as Sam Adams will share experiences and explore paths to improve the quality of life in urban areas. 

These events reinforce the vision of EMBARQ Brasil to build cities for everyone. For ten years the organization has been helping large and medium-sized Brazilian cities to develop and implement sustainable urban mobility solutions. 

Ken Livingstone’s Lessons for Congestion Charging and City Leadership


Ken Livingstone served as the mayor of London from 2000 to 2008 and implemented a series of innovative measures in the city including the pedestrianization of public spaces, improved public transport, and priority bus corridors. Among his most recognized initiatives was a congestion charging policy, which has transformed mobility in London and inspired cities around the world.

Photo: Overseas Development Institute/Flickr) Photo: Overseas Development Institute/Flickr) Congestion charging means that car drivers must pay a specified fee to access certain parts of the city—usually the city center. The policy aims to balance the supply (space on city streets) and demand (people’s desire to get downtown by car). Thus, congestion charging uses a market-based mechanism to ensure there roads aren’t congested with an excessive number of cars.

The first congestion charging program was pioneered by Singapore in 1975. However, unlike Singapore, London consulted the public heavily to develop the policy, making the case for reducing traffic use in the city and shifting to more sustainable transport. The program has successfully reduced the number of cars in downtown areas by 30 percent and has encouraged residents to use the bus and subway systems, bike, and walk. Similar initiatives have since been adopted in cities likeStockholm and Milan.

Ken Livingstone will attend the Mayors’ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress from September 9 – 11 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The events are hosted by WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil as part of EMBARQ Brasil’s 10th anniversary celebration.

How can we fundamentally change how our cities operate? What are the biggest challenges that cities face in improving equity and livability?

The greatest challenge is that our cities are growing rapidly, while at the same time they need to cope with greater pollution and climate change. This requires a 20-30 year strategic plan that can bring together businesses, local communities, and the public sector.

How can cities can become leaders and successfully implement innovative solutions and new management strategies? What is the role of cities and city leaders in the international economic and development agenda?

Across the world, it is often cities that have initiated change ahead of national governments, particularly in countries with strong regional governments like Germany and the United States. Singapore’s congestion charging scheme (which laid the groundwork for London’s) is slowly spreading around the world as people are recognizing that it works. The breathtaking changes implemented by Governor Brown of California are setting the highest standards in the world for tackling climate change.

What can cities do to help tackle climate change?

Cities are the answer to tackling climate change. The concentration of millions of people allows for both efficient transport systems without car reliance and sustainable energy systems. In just the last 15 years, London has seen a 50 percent increase in public transport usage. It’s often in the richest areas of cities like London and New York where we are seeing the biggest growth in public transport usage.

You were able to reduce traffic congestion in London by limiting car access in downtown areas. How did you approach congestion charging? What have you learned from your experience as London’s mayor?

Because congestion charging had been working for decades in Singapore, we were able to learn from their experience, carefully working on the details of planning and implementation to ensure that nothing went wrong on the start date. What I learned as mayor is to keep a firm grip on bureaucracy, pay attention to detail, and ensure that key advisers monitor and evaluate development.

What supports the idea that mayors are much better placed than national governments to make progress in the 21st century?

National governments and parliaments debate laws that mayors and governors have to cope with in the day to day of running their cities. Often, debate may continue on for years at the national level, whereas a mayor who is unable to tackle the problem of pot holes or traffic congestion is unlikely to be re-elected.

Building on this, what are your expectations for the Mayors’ Summit and the Cities & Transport International Congress next September in Rio?

Cities from across the world will gather in Rio to exchange ideas, share experiences, and demonstrate to national governments their leadership on these issues. Over the decades to come, I expect an irreversible shift of power from national governments to the cities.

What is the phrase or idea you want to share with the world? 

Devolve power to your cities if you want to save the planet.

The "how to" of sustainable city leadership


Registration for the Cities & Transport International Congress is now open at The Congress will take place on September 10 and 11, 2015 at Cidade das Artes Foundation (the City of the Arts, in English) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Foto: Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil Foto: Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil

The Congress will bring together decision makers, internationally renowned experts, members of the private sector, and civil society organizations to present proposals and discuss different approaches to improve quality of life in cities globally. More than 80 speakers will participate in interactive discussions with the audience and share successful methods for developing innovative solutions.

"The Congress will be a great opportunity to recreate our cities and turn ideas into action. Several initiatives for urban improvement have already been implemented around the world and have delivered concrete and positive results. The experts will present technical and creative solutions to urban problems, giving decision makers the tools they need to improve our cities", says Luis Antonio Lindau, EMBARQ Brasil´s Director.

“Financing Sustainability for Cities”, “The Importance of Having a Strategic View for Cities” and “Cities in the New Climate Economy” are just a few of the sessions at the Congress that will introduce best practices and strategies for overcoming managerial difficulties.

The Congress’s themes include: transport and urban mobility; vulnerability, resilience and adaptation; sustainable urban development; innovative public policies; economic fairness; and new technologies. In addition to these forums and discussions, the Congress will offer talks with internationally recognized former mayors who have innovated management and transformed their cities.

The Cities & Transport International Congress is part of the 10 year anniversary of EMBARQ Brasil. The celebration will also include the Mayors’ Summit, where local leaders from around the world will come together in an unprecedented interactive conversation about the future of cities. Jaime Lerner, Ken Livingstone, Enrique Peñalosa and Mary Jane Ortega will all share their experiences and offer guidance for improving urban residents’ quality of life with over 300 mayors from five continents. These events reinforce EMBARQ Brasil’s vision of cities as places for everyone. For ten years, the organization has been assisting large and medium-sized Brazilian cities to develop and implement sustainable urban mobility solutions.

"We will celebrate EMBARQ Brasil´s 10 years of operation and reinforce our commitment to the cities. Our greatest gift is to help cities foster projects that improve the quality of life of their populations", said Rejane D. Fernandes, Director of Strategic Relations & Development of EMBARQ Brasil,

Register for the Cities & Transport International Congress at Technicians, employees and managers in municipal, state and federal government may register free of charge. University professors and students will receive a 50% discount. Members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will receive a 25% discount.


WRI BRASIL Marca 10 Anos Patrocinadores