Closing event of PESE’s first phase presents corporate case studies
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.
Mexico City launched its first Bus Rapid Transit Corridor along Avenida Insurgentes, one of the longest avenues in the world. Eighty low-pollution buses will carry 250,000 passengers per day, replacing 350 dirty and dangerous buses. The Corridor is the centerpiece of an ambitious plan by Mexico City and WRI’s EMBARQ Center for Sustainable Transportation to implement a clean transportation system in one of the world’s most polluted cities. The new bus system reduces CO2 emissions by 35,000 tons annually. New partnerships with Istanbul and Porto Alegre are also under way.
The Amazon is a precious natural resource subject to significant human pressures. Identifying these pressures and understanding how they are related is critical for successful forest management. Traditional forest assessments look at only one or two pressures at a time, such as logging and agriculture. That isn’t enough. WRI and its Brazilian partner Imazon have created a new set of forest maps that include the impacts of civic construction projects, human settlements, fires, and mining operations on the Amazon, thereby providing a more complete picture. We believe these “human pressure” maps will guide better policy decisions. Already, Brazil has used these maps and analysis to establish federally protected areas and state forests, setting aside 9.5 million hectares of important intact rainforest.
The world's cities are about to get a lot busier. Today, more than 50 percent of the global population lives in cities; by 2050, that figure will have risen to 75 percent.
This mass migration to cities could result in crowded streets rife with air pollution, traffic accidents and congestion. Or it could see a boom in clean, compact urban centres with safe, healthy communities. The way the world's cities operate in the future will be shaped by how they are designed and developed now.
Brazil currently ranks fifth in the world in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The country’s energy mix, long dominated by hydro power, is trending towards fossil fuels, and the Brazilian general public is increasingly concerned with climate change.
Although not bound by Kyoto Protocol GHG emissions limits, Brazil is committed to fighting global warming. In partnership with WRI and other organizations, the Brazilian government launched the Brazil GHG ProtocolProgram, a voluntary public registry of corporate greenhouse gas emissions. Participants will log annual inventories of emissions and will receive training on accounting practices and management reduction strategies. Sixteen major corporations joined the effort, the first program of its kind in South America.
Standardizing how greenhouse gases are measured and reported lays the foundation for future mitigation efforts. Our goal is to expand the program and bring GHG accounting tools and training to the agricultural, biofuel, and forestry sector, which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.
When Brazil secured its position as future host to both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, a new opportunity to upgrade urban transport came into focus. In 2009, the federal government announced $6.6 billion of funding for improved urban mobility to host cities, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) became a central plank of this agenda. Around 500 km of BRT systems will be constructed in eight cities, almost doubling the current BRT lineage in all of Latin America.
EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Brazil (CTS-Brasil) convened a pivotal international event at which President Lula declared sustainable mobility a priority for Brazilian cities—marking the first time that a president of Brazil attended an urban transport event. CTS-Brasil leveraged its expertise, relationships, reputation, and political and technical leadership to promote high-quality BRT in four major cities:
- In Recife, CTS-Brasil introduced the BRT concept and technically supported the terms of reference for contracting a $1.3 million BRT engineering design study.
- In Belo Horizonte, CTS-Brasil delivered a strategic framing workshop to align stakeholders and identify potential risks to the implementation of the three planned BRT corridors.
- In Rio de Janeiro, CTS-Brasil applied the EMBARQ BRT Simulator to provide critical support the city’s candidacy as an Olympic site.
- In Porto Alegre, CTS-Brasil and EMBARQ played a vital role in acquiring $100 million financing from CAF, and convincing CAF to approve a $1 million, non-refundable grant for refining BRT studies.
CTS-Brasil also contributed to the editing of a BRT manual which will be distributed to all urban and metropolitan bus operators throughout Brazil.
These achievements pave the way for a consistent national sustainable transport policy. In recognition of CTS-Brasil’s contributions, the Ministry of Cities invited CTS-Brasil to a prestigious group of advisors to guide its criteria for federal financing of an additional $10 billion in sustainable transit solutions.
Rio de Janeiro is a leader among the Brazilian cities aggressively promoting low-carbon development. In 2011, the city passed a landmark climate change law with a target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 8% below the business-as-usual (BAU) emissions scenario by 2012, 16% by 2016, and 20% by 2020.
Now Rio is conducting a GHG inventory for 2012, the first target year under its climate change law. The inventory will measure the city’s emissions against its 8% reduction target for 2012, and assess the effectiveness of GHG mitigation actions implemented so far. On July 2, the city government of Rio invited me and my colleagues from the Greater London Authority and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE) to a seminar to share our experiences in conducting GHG inventories and to discuss Rio’s 2012 inventory. At the seminar, Nelson Moreira Franco, Director for Climate Change Management and Sustainable Development for the City of Rio, stressed that GHG inventories help identify emission sources and provide scientific evidence on GHG levels, so it is extremely important that the city gets it right. To me, the seminar covered four important items:
Brazil’s economy has been booming. During the past decade, it grew from the ninth to the sixth-largest in the world. While this growth has brought many socioeconomic benefits, it’s come with a downside: significant environmental impacts. Brazil has the highest rate of deforestation worldwide, while pollution threatens the country’s drinking water supply. Despite a decrease in national greenhouse gas emissions of late, agriculture emissions and energy demand are still rising.
Labeled the “queen of the forest” for its size and beauty, the Brazil nut tree plays an important social and environmental role in the Amazon. During the annual harvest, from November to March, when both its seeds and nuts are collected, the tree also provides a critical supplementary source of income for communities across the region.
While other natural resource management activities risk increasing deforestation in the Amazon, nut harvesting is not harmful to nature, since it depends on the forest’s continued existence. Local company Ouro Verde was created with this in mind, selling Brazil nut products marketed as sustainable, including extra virgin nut oil, nut butter and granulate. Ouro Verde created 47 jobs, and many more new business opportunities in the Amazon region, placing an economic value on the rainforest for local communities. About 1.3 million hectares of rain forest are sustainably managed by Ouro Verde supplier partners.
Ouro Verde is a shining example of the type of company WRI’s New Ventures project was created to support. Founded in 1999, New Ventures identifies, mentors, and provides promising small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures supports companies in six rapidly growing emerging markets – Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where the environment and development decisions being made today will impact the entire world. To date, we have facilitated more than $225 million in investment and worked with 346 innovative enterprises.
In 2010, SMEs supported by New Ventures reduced CO2 by 135,021 tons, the equivalent of removing over 112,000 cars from the road for one year. In addition, 1,490,448 hectares of land – an area larger than Connecticut - was placed under sustainable management by New Ventures companies or was conserved by sustainable land use companies in the New Ventures portfolio.