WRI opened its Brazil office in 2013. We work with leaders in business, government, and civil society on issues surrounding cities and transport, climate change, finance, and sustainable landscapes. Learn more about our work in Brazil.
As world leaders deal with climate change, aim to lift more people out of poverty, and make the world a more sustainable, prosperous place in 2015, here are the top Stories to Watch, according to WRI’s experts and as presented by WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer on January 8.
Today, WRI, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability are launching the final version of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC). It’s the first internationally accepted standard for measuring emissions at the city level, and empowers cities to accurately identify where their emissions are coming from, set credible and achievable reduction targets, and consistently track progress.
Brazil’s cities, home to 85 percent of the country’s population, are already feeling the effects of climate change in the form of intense rains, temperature spikes, and sea level rise.
But WRI experts recently learned by visiting Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Brasilia, some cities are also starting to take action to adapt.
EMBARQ Brasil provided technical assistance to the transportation agencies of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia—three of Brazil’s largest and most traffic-congested cities—to design and implement bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. In 2014, 154 kilometers of high-quality BRT corridors were launched, cutting 1.5 million people’s commute times by 50 percent.
Brazil is the sixth-largest economy in the world, and 85 percent of its citizens are urban dwellers. However, Brazilian mega-cities suffer from poor transportation design and infrastructure, increasingly relying on cars and motorcycles as people become more affluent. Every day, millions of cars flood Brazil’s streets, resulting in traffic congestion, road fatalities and air pollution. Meanwhile, inefficient, low-quality bus services cause long, uncomfortable commutes. Bus rides that would take 40 minutes in an efficient system take more than twice that in Brazil’s urban areas. These problems are compounded by the country’s booming urban population.
Starting in 2010, WRI’s Brazilian transport arm, EMBARQ Brasil, provided technical assistance to the transportation agencies of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia — three of Brazil’s largest and most traffic-congested cities — to design and implement bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. BRTs incorporate bus-only traffic lanes with large, state-of-the-art buses to provide fast, high-quality service.
In each city, EMBARQ Brasil convened bus companies and operators, agency officials, and other major stakeholders to plan and invest in BRT networks. It also hosted workshops, giving those who will implement the projects a chance to learn from BRT experts and put these lessons to use in operation manuals and contingency plans. With extensive experience in BRT, EMBARQ Brasil provided technical expertise to design the actual systems, placing as much emphasis on safety, accessibility and low emissions as on speed and efficiency. EMBARQ Brasil experts then trained the system operators.
In 2014, 154 kilometers of high-quality BRT corridors were launched in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. These systems cut 1.5 million people’s commute times by 50 percent, and millions of city residents benefited from safer roads and cleaner air. The success of the BRT systems has motivated the governments of all three cities to continue to expand the networks, with an additional 211 kilometers of BRT in the planning and early implementation stages. These projects provide a model of transportation reform, empowering and inspiring other Brazilian cities to achieve sustainable urban mobility
Call it bad timing: Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions intensity is rising while that of most of the G20 countries decreases, just as more infrastructure investment will be needed to support expected economic growth and social inclusion. Representatives of commercial banks in Brazil, the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Brazil’s Ministry of Finance and others joined WRI experts to explore how they can collectively help the country make the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Local communities are key to protecting the world’s last remaining forests. Indigenous peoples hold legal or official rights to one-eighth of the world’s forests, about 513 million hectares (1.3 billion acres).
Read more about how researchers used Global Forest Watch maps to identify lower rates of deforestation where governments protect communities’ rights.