Urban Regeneration: Needs as Opportunites II

Together with the demolition of 5km highline in the City Center of Rio de Janeiro, the immense #culturalheritage value of the area has emerged, improving the attractiveness of the area. #urbanregeneration, #urbanplannig #cities

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Cities and COP23: our daily urban problems and climate change

What is the relationship between our daily urban problems and climate change?

The major part of big cities lives with problems that affect the climate and their quality of life. Meanwhile, there are many solutions that can improve urban conditions and they emerge every day. To disseminate those solutions at ground level demands governance, regulation and financing adjustments mainly at local level administrations. This is one of the biggest challenges addressed at UN Climate Change Conference – COP 23, that is happening November this year, in Bonn, Germany. There were representatives from more than 190 countries and hundreds civil society organizations.

The Commitments to urban action on climate change is a big step made at COP 23. Just highlight two among its seventeen actions, the “Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, focusing on transitions to low emission and the largest global coalition of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries advancing city-level transitions to low emission and climate resilient economies through voluntary action”, and The “Urban Leadership Council – a group of representatives from city networks, urban think tanks, and the private sector launches today, aiming to build high-level political commitment to sustainable urban development in rapidly urbanizing countries and provide guidance to the Coalition for Urban Transitions, an initiative overseen by C40, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the New Climate Economy”.


The commitment links the principles and objective from the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly Sustainable Development Goal 11 – to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

According to multilateral agencies and research institutions, urban areas represent high level of relevance for climate and its impacts on the quality of people’s lives. The UN estimates that half of the world’s population lives in cities and it will increase  to 75% by 2050. In 1950, there was two megacities (a city with more than 10 million inhabitants). In 2017, there are 32. The estimation is that there will be 44, with 9% of the world’s population living there. The cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse emissions from the industries and transport of people and goods mainly, which makes urban mobility a crucial aspect to be addressed. Linked to that are issues such as urban form, housing and job distribution.

In Brazil, with 207 million people distributed through 5.570 municipalities, there are 17 with more than 1 million inhabitants, with about 45,5 million people (21,9%) living there. And the tendency is the increase of urban concentration, according to the Brazilian Geography and Statistic Institute (IBGE). Housing, mobility, sanitation, education, health and security are the common issues among Brazilian cities, showing at urban space the relationship between climate and inequalities issues. The big challenge is that we need to transform those cities that already exists. Adapt them to new paradigms. Reorient its current urban development patterns to new ones.

It is important to note that solutions for many of these issues already exist and more are coming soon. Some are simple, like the use of ashes for sugarcane bagasse to make bricks that can reduce the cost of housing production and improve its thermic conditions. There are sophisticated ones like smart systems for traffic control, education and health management, or the new ones like the tramway without rail on energy nets, which has been developed by the Chinses.


However, the big question is: why is it so difficult to apply these solutions in Brazilian Cities? Why is it so hard to translate pilot projects into public policies?

There are many reasons. Among them are the low level of knowledge about the solutions, limitations in terms of institutional, and technical and financing capacities. These issues exist mainly at local administration level. It means that, the implementation of the smart technological solutions requires improvement in terms of governance and transparency, management efficiency and finance.

Those solutions are aligned with approach of smart cities. It is still under construction, moving from an Information Technology based to a view that puts that as support tool for improving governance, participation and urban management. In this sense, the smart city solutions can contribute to ODS and Climate change goals.

However, it is necessary that local authorities seek for solutions not only about What To Do but about How To Do, including transparency and civil society participation. Given that, the recommendations, resolutions and agreements from COP 23 should become a real pathway to solve our daily urban problems.