Brazilian State and City Leaders Visit World Resources Institute, Discuss Collaboration on Sustainable Cities
On July 18, a group of nearly 30 Brazilian governors, mayors, city authorities and business leaders visited World Resources Institute to learn about WRI Ross Center and WRI Brasil’s work on mobility and sustainable cities. This visit was part of a week-long event organized by Brazilian NGO Comunitas, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University.
Director of Health and Road Safety at WRI Ross Center Claudia Adriazola-Steil and Vice President for Institutional Strategy and Development at World Resources Institute Liz Cook welcomed the group, introducing WRI’s work and opening the discussion. “We are proud that leaders of business and state are coming to WRI and that we have the opportunity to speak with you,” said Adriazola-Steil.
“It’s so good to see the mayors and governors here that we’ve worked with for many, many years,” said WRI Ross Center Global Director Ani Dasgupta. He outlined the Center’s focus, calling attention to the major challenges and opportunities that cities face.
At WRI, “we work on technical solutions,” he continued.” But we need leaders like you to help us scale these solutions. So, I want to thank you for your partnership, and we look forward to continuing our relationships with you and the FNP (National Front of Mayors).”
Eduardo Leite, Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, explained how he has worked closely with WRI Brasil to improve the quality of urban infrastructure when he was mayor of Pelotas, Brazil, building bike lanes and enhancing accessibility. Rejane Fernandes, Strategic Relations Director, WRI Brasil, highlighted the impact of projects on urban mobility, "complete streets," and more in Pelotas and 22 other cities that have helped shift the paradigm towards people-centered urban planning.
In mobility, business as usual is changing, opening the door to new relationships and joint endeavors. “To all the mayors and governors here, we strongly believe that transport will shift fundamentally in the next decade,” said Dasgupta. The cities that get ahead of the curve will be better off. “It’s an exciting moment of experimentation. This is exactly where we want to partner and further the conversation.”
Mayor of Campinas and FNP President Jonas Donizette highlighted how this fundamental shift is already affecting the younger generation. When he came of age, his first thought was to buy a car. But young adults today don’t have the same mindset. Moving away from car-centric mentalities will define the future of cities as they move instead toward shared streets and transport.
Mayor of Porto Alegre Nelson Marchezan Júnior called attention to the rise of on-demand transportation and its impact on public transport. One of the greatest challenges he’s facing is implementing regulations and integrating this technology with transit and bike lanes.
Director of NUMO Harriet Tregoning echoed these concerns. “These are problems we’re seeing all over the globe…You're right to be concerned about the effect of app-based, shared transport on mass transit.” But cities and companies ultimately have a shared goal – to get residents out of personal vehicles. There are many opportunities for cities to align with private companies, she said.
Secretary of Economic Development for the State of Goiás Adriano Rocha Lima voiced his concerns about autonomous vehicles and what they will mean for the future of taxi and bus drivers.
“Service delivery jobs may disappear, but new jobs will come online,” said Tregoning. Jobs associated with managing vehicle fleets and data science will need a robust workforce in the public and private sectors.
Director of Urban Mobility at WRI Ross Center Sergio Avelleda agreed with the labor concerns. But while AVs might displace some workers, he highlighted the opportunity they present to improving road safety since they remove the element of human error.
Tregoning gave the group a tour of DC’s NoMa neighborhood as an example of mixed-use, accessible and livable urban areas. Despite its proximity to the U.S. Capitol building, the neighborhood had been largely isolated and underfunded. DC’s city officials saw great opportunity for revitalization, and now it’s dotted with shared public space, bike lanes and more, bringing great value to the area.