The city’s human capital linked to a privileged physical location, have always been considered its main asset.
It was this asset that enabled the commitment to sustainability to be taken on even before this topic joined the priority agenda, in particular in urban environments.
The conciliation between development and conservation has guided the city’s planning, as well as the necessary legislation for it to be put in place, since the 1940s when the first urbanism plan set out the street grid, rivers and green areas.
One of the parts proposed in this plan was the Barigui Park, opened in 1972 and within area of 1,400,000 m². These remnant formations total 77,768,020.60 million m² of private and public vegetation areas that contribute to today’s rate of 64.5 m² of green area per inhabitant.
Democratization of public spaces translates into free access to all the conservation units, parks, woods, the Botanical Garden and Municipal Zoo.
In addition, figures points out that the current set of green area in Curitiba removes 168 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per hectare, in addition to protecting biodiversity and contributing to mitigating the effects of climate changes.
Based on this alliance between the urban environment and the preservation of biodiversity, a program was created – the Biocity, which refines the concept of environmental management by way of simple and practical actions, its outcomes show how the action of cities can make a difference in the conservation of biodiversity on the planet.
Recent surveys points out an important bio-indicator for the city, with a total of over 300 native bird species and 500 butterfly species, in addition to a large diversity of wild fish, reptiles and amphibians, mammals and micro-invertebrates in the natural areas under conservation.
Curitiba aligns itself with the decisions made by Brazil, signatory country of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
However, that’s not news, but rather the fact that the concern with biodiversity has started to permeate all areas of city administration.
Part of the good outcomes already achieved by the Biocity Program, is owed to the technical and scientific support provided by public, private and non-governmental institutions, revealing the collective construction of its principles.
The city prioritizes the collective when it establishes public transportation as a priority, with dedicated, exclusive lanes for buses and the payment of the single fare.
Hybrid buses are being adopted, powered by electric energy and bio diesel, which are more silent and reduce in up to 80% the emissions of pollutants. In this way, the city invested mobility with social and environmental gains.
Acting in network as assumption, enables the recognition of the city as a living and interdependent organism broadening its frontiers by establishing the integrated transportation network that includes the bordering cities, as well as an Inter-Municipal Consortium for management of solid waste covering over 20 municipalities in the Metropolitan Region.
Shared management was also the word of order in putting in place the home waste selective collection program through the Garbage That Is Not Garbage Program in 1989.
Each inhabitant is responsible for doing the separation of recyclable materials in the home waste that it generates and to provide for separate final destination for collection. Ongoing community awareness-raising and information campaigns disclosing the benefits of recycling are always the most important incentive to participation. Currently, 85% of the population separates their waste in the home.
Promotion of the quality is the objective of the Eco-citizen Project which contributes to the organization of collectors of recyclable materials. Currently there are 12 warehouses with a further 13 under implementation, which increases the income for these workers, one of the important links in the recycling chain, and creating agility in servicing families through the health and education assistance programs.
Thinking systemically transforms problems into solutions. Like the Green Exchange Program which carries out the exchange of recyclable materials for vegetable produce grown by small farmers in the Metropolitan Region. In the 95 disenfranchised communities addressed fortnightly, 7500 people receive this benefit every month. Annually 2799 tons of recyclable wastes are collected and 700 tons of food is distributed. This is an investment in district cleanliness at the same time in which it enriches family nutrition.
Actions in revitalizing the city’s rivers prioritize the relocation of families living irregularly on the river banks to dignified and safe housing. The city gains new linear parks, the return of native vegetation and the recovery of these water bodies. Initiatives like these, linked to the social scope programs, have enabled the reduction of poverty down to 3.64% in 2011.
The commitment to future generations is made real in the Project for Private Reserves of the Natural Municipal Heritage, that encourages owners to preserve conserved natural areas located in the urban environment, offering tax incentives and the transfer of 100% of the building potential from these areas to others within the city.
Currently, there are already four reserves with over 32,510 m² of protected green areas. These reserves are municipal conservation units and are among the protected areas in the country.
As a spin-off from this initiative, in 2012, the Association of Protectors of Private Green Areas of Curitiba and Metropolitan Region was officially established for the purpose of protecting, preserving and valuing the areas with relevant native vegetation in Curitiba and its Metropolitan Region.
Social validation of the proposals take places in public hearings held by way of participant processes, dreaming the desired future and establishing a regime of co-responsibility between public authorities and the community. This commitment is reflected in small daily activity attitudes displayed by the inhabitants of the city.
Curitiba believes that it is necessary to invest more than in remediation of environmental problems. Access to information by the community and transparency of purpose consolidate the construction of a culture of sustainability based on values like solidarity and cooperation.
Environmental Education has contributed to establish dialog as principle in sustainability revealing that the steps adopted to date have effectively addressed needs of the present without forgetting the potential for the future, because we believe that the city is a privilege space for undertaking, at a local level, changes desired in a planetary scale.