C40 Voices: Cristina Mendonca

C40-CCI City Director in Rio de Janeiro gives us a first-hand view into the considerable and exciting activity happening on the ground in Rio in the count-down to Rio+20

October 2009. It seems it was yesterday when the City of Rio de Janeiro first expressed the intention to host a side event in partnership with C40 at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. It is amazing to see how a one-day event, Rio+C40: Megacity Mayors Taking Action on Climate Change, can require so much time, attention and care from so many different people and organizations in countries around the world. And how extraordinary that this effort in turn can convey, unite and ignite the significant, concrete actions cities are taking to promote sustainable development.

Now that we are counting down the final days to Rio+20, there is a palpable energy in the city, in the form of a very hopeful and productive series of events, including our own, around the common theme of sustainability.

At the metro station, posters from the UNCSD campaign display the message “I am we” to demonstrate that we are not separate entities, not even from nature; and whatever we do has an impact on the whole system. The City of Rio has just held the Green Nation Fest, a sustainability festival that showcased in a light and playful way how the official UN debates could – and policies and programs now being implemented by cities do -- translate to positive changes in the daily lives of all citizens. Here the ITDP - Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, a strategic C40 partner in Latin America, presented a series of international films about sustainable transportation as well as presentations about the principles of sustainable urban mobility.

Also on the theme of mobility, C40 is supporting Mobility+, a series of lectures launched on June 5 in Rio and co-organized by of ITDP and Columbia University’s Studio X Rio. The project illustrates how urban mobility permeates diverse aspects of daily life in cities, and impacts on the lives of citizens beyond just getting from one place to another. The topic of mobility will be presented and discussed in the context of 12 different concepts, for example, mobility + urban space, mobility + health, mobility + water. On June 12, C40 will showcase how mobility and waste are interrelated, based on the green fleet project for refuse trucks that we are currently supporting in the city of Rio.

To support the City of Rio’s strategy to encourage behavioral changes among citizens, C40 is joining efforts with the City of Rio, UN Conference on Sustainable Development and other Brazilian local governments and institutions to support the Green Project Awards, a movement to mobilize civil society and businesses toward a sustainable agenda. As a member of the R&D Judging Committee, C40 will also contribute to the selection of cutting-edge initiatives and technologies that promote sustainable development. The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place after Rio+20.

At the Copacabana Fort, Project Humanidade 2012 will be one of the highlights of the Rio+20 calendar of events. It is an initiative sponsored by the respective Federations of Industries from the State of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the Roberto Marinho Foundation, with the support of the city of Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Government. The general public is invited to visit this very special and innovative space to expand their knowledge and reflect upon a sustainability model to guarantee better human conditions, viable economic growth, social inclusion of marginalized populations and respect for the environment. A grand exhibition open to the public will demonstrate how these concepts are translated into key actions and initiatives in Brazil through interactive and educational displays. 

The Humanidade Project also plays the role of a democratic forum, providing a space for a series of meetings, workshops and seminars. For example, C40 is supporting the City of Rio, the ITDP and CDURP, a recently-created municipal company that is responsible for a major waterfront revitalization project “Porto Maravilha,” to organize a technical panel about sustainability in port revitalization projects. The C40 Cities of Melbourne and Copenhagen will also contribute to the discussion with the City of Rio.

Also at the Humanidade 2012 venue, C40 and the City of Rio will jointly host the side event on the 19th of June. It is being recognized by the Brazilian media as one of the most anticipated side events at Rio+20. To me, the event is a symbol of the profound collaboration between global cities that has been taking place since C40 was founded in 2005. What is most exciting is that the event will culminate in further concrete actions and commitments by C40 Cities to reduce greenhouse gases and climate risks.

As you can see, the city of Rio de Janeiro is really “on fire” right now, facing a very exciting moment with the active participation of many individuals, civil society, governments and the business sector. I expect this movement to strengthen and grow as a result of Rio+2…and this can only help C40’s mission to cities take local action to impact climate change globally.

In my next posts, I will highlight C40’s participation on the Mobility+ project and describe the various projects that are taking place in Rio: the shutting down of the Gramacho Landfill, the launch of the BRT, the launch of the 2nd phase of the Hybrid and Electric Bus Test Program -HEBTP and much more. Stay tuned!