Brazilian officials learn from the UK about Urban Sustainability through EMBARQ Brasil Exchange
To stay competitive on a global level, London reinvents itself every day. Through the London Infrastructure Plan 2050, the Greater London Authority (GLA) is responsible for ensuring that this happens. The GLA implements low-carbon reforms in transport, energy, and waste management, using urban planning to address population growth in the metropolitan area.
To learn how British solutions could be implemented in the Brazilian context, delegates of the Sustainable Cities Mission - Brazil | UK traveled to London, Cambridge and Milton Keynes on June 29.
The group was composed of representatives from the Brazilian Ministry of Cities, the States of Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina and municipalities of Salvador, Florianópolis, and Belo Horizonte. During its one week stay, the group explored initiatives in London, Milton Keynes, and Cambridge to strength technical and institutional capacity among the participant cities. The mission is a part of two projects that EMBARQ Brasil | WRI Brasil is conducting with the support of UKFCO, Childrens’ Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Future Cities Catapult partnership.
Learning from the UK
The group visited the GLA, Transport for London (TfL), Future Cities Catapult, and the London Legacy Development Corporation. Delegates also went to the modern headquarters of the Transport Systems Catapult in Milton Keynes, and evaluated the Buses with High Level of Service (BHLS) in Cambridgeshire.
Joanna Crellin, British Consul-General in São Paulo, welcomed the representatives to the UK: “It's really great and gratifying to have all these Brazilian cities here, with the important support of EMBARQ and the World Resources Institute. You are doing a great job and should continue to help transform the local reality.”
In Stratford, the group examined the effects that the 2012 Olympic Games had on the city. Through the London Legacy Development Corporation, the city is transforming the Olympic area into an important hub of new housing, services, cultural centers, and job opportunities — a model Brazil may look to replicate after the 2016 Rio games.
The representatives were also exposed to British mass transport initiatives. TfL is in the process of implementing the massive Crossrail project — a venture that will increase rail transport capacity by 10 percent and bring an extra 1.5 million people within 45 minutes of downtown by 2019. Moreover, TfL is going beyond simply moving people by providing first class streets to the population. By 2020, £ 4 billion will be invested in streets and sidewalks.
The last stop for the Sustainable Cities Mission in the UK was the BHLS of Cambridge. In just 4 years of operation, the system has attracted an average of 800,000 new users per year. Features of the Busway include real time user information, air conditioning, on board Wi-Fi, upholstered seats, and power outlets for mobile devices. Cambridge’s ability to repurpose old and underutilized transport assets (in this case, train tracks) for buses offered the Brazilian representatives one example of urban revitalization.
Sparking a Dialogue about the Needs of an Urbanizing Brazil
While the delegates observed various models for sustainable city design, they were also encouraged to present their own challenges and aspirations for their districts. Toni Lindau, Director of EMBARQ Brasil, set the tone for the conversation, remarking that Brazil is situated at an ideal time to develop urban mobility. Indeed, the country has a total amount of $ 49.2 billion of investments allotted for the sector, explains Luiza Gomide, Director of Urban Mobility for Ministry of Cities. Below are some of the representatives’ comments:
Liliana Hermont, Superintendent of Transport Management and Technology at BHTrans, and Ana Paula Lemos, Adviser at the Mayor's Office, noted that while BRT MOVE is already an icon, the city should invest in better transport operations to expand their control tools. Additional support for the system, Liliana explains, will align with "Belo Horizonte’s aim to have the best BRT system in the country.” One practical application they learned and hope to implement is the ability to transform data into usable information.
Rio de Janeiro
For Vicente Loureiro, Executive Director of the Committee for Metropolitan Management of Rio de Janeiro, urban planning oriented around a single, central point is now obsolete. The decentralization of management and services offered to the population through London’s Boroughs are an inspiration, said Loureiro. The specialist commented that the Metropolitan Region of Rio has the longest commute time of all metropolitan regions in Brazil, with an average commute time of 4 hours. "We are now hiring a Mobility Planner for the Metropolitan Area to think over solutions," he explained.
The first Brazilian capital is beloved by many, but the city still needs more accessible spaces for people and cyclists, concluded both Lucia Santos, Project Manager of National Secretary of Urban Mobility, and André Fraga, Secretary of the Sustainable City of Salvador. Large scale bike lanes and pedestrian walkways, similar to those featured in London, are on the table. The broader challenge is to stop prioritizing private cars, a trend that can be broken in part with BRT. "Salvador has the challenge of its geography, with many hills and slopes. These hill areas are at-risk areas when it rains and many people are affected", warned Lindau.
The representatives of the capital of Santa Catarina State acknowledged that Florianópolis has problems related to its geography, a high motorization rate, and is flooded by thousands of visitors during the summer. Transport Integration Manager, Guilherme Medeiros, considers London’s congestion taxes a possible solution that can be adapted to the local context. “Perhaps if we apply the tax at least to drivers who are from outside Florianópolis [there] would be already a relief [from traffic jams]” he said.
Technical Mission Participants
- Luiza Gomide - Director of the Urban Mobility Department at the National Secretariat of Urban Mobility - Ministry of Cities
- Lúcia Mendonça Santos - Project Manager - National Secretary of Urban Mobility - Ministry of Cities
- Vicente Loureiro - Executive Director –Committee for Metropolitan Management of Rio de Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro State
- Guilherme Medeiros - Transports Integration Manager for the Metropolitan Region of Florianópolis - Santa Catarina State
- André Fraga - Secretary of Sustainable City - Salvador Municipality
- Rafael Hahne - Secretary of Public Works - Florianopolis Municipality
- Grasiele Ávila - Secretary Chief of Staff at Mayor's Office – Florianopolis
- Ana Paula Lemos - Adivser at Mayor's Office - Belo Horizonte Municipality
- Liliana Hermont - Superintendent of Transport Management and Technology at BHTrans - Belo Horizonte Municipality
- Katerina Elias - Researcher at WRI Brasil
- Luis Antonio Lindau - Director of EMBARQ Brasil
- Guilherme Johnston - Projects Manager at the British Embassy in Brazil
- Maria Fernanda Cavalcanti - Communications Coordinator of EMBARQ Brasil
To view more photos of the technical mission, click here.
About EMBARQ at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
EMBARQ, Sustainable Urban Mobility by WRI, catalyzes and helps implement environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable urban mobility solutions to improve quality of life in cities.