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Curitiba: Planning for Sustainability – An Approach All Cities Can Afford

BBL sponsored by EASUR, ESMAP and FEU

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
12:30pm – 2:00pm
Room: J10-044

Eco² Cities: Seminar Series

Carlos Alberto Richa, Mayor of Curitiba, Brazil

Clever Almeida, President of the Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba (IPPUC)

The City of Curitiba: Planning for Sustainability - an Approach all Cities can Afford   PDF

Keshav Varma
, Sector Director, Urban Sector Unit, East Asia and Pacific Region

The East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank is in the process of developing a program called “Eco² Cities: Ecological Cities as Economic Cities.” Its objective is to help cities in developing countries achieve greater ecological and economic sustainability. The program draws from global best practices of sustainable city planning, development and management.

The story of Curitiba, Brazil, is absolutely critical for us to understand today - not only because of the innovative, imaginative and practical solutions implemented by the city, but because Curitiba demonstrates that resource constraints are no barrier to sustainable ecological and economic urban planning and development – and that sustainable planning is in fact an investment in the future of a city’s economy and welfare.

Through its innovative approaches in urban planning, city management and transport planning, Curitiba has been able to sustainably absorb a population increase from 300,000 (in 1960) to over 1,800,000 (in 2007). Most well known for its innovative ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ system, Curitiba has found innovative solutions to practically every dimension of planning – and most importantly created an enduring ‘culture’ of sustainability.  

Consequently, Curitiba has the highest rate of public transport ridership in Brazil, the lowest congestion related losses, and enjoys lowest rates of urban air pollution. While preserving urban density and vibrancy, Curitiba invested in large parks as ecological assets for flood prevention and recreation. This solved the city’s flooding problems at 1/5th the cost of constructing canals, greatly enhanced the attractiveness of the city for residents and tourists, provided bike routes and pedestrian pathways linked into city’s existing transportation network, and increased property values of neighborhoods close to parks.

The poor have always been an integral part of the city’s programs, and have benefited from community housing and small business assistance programs. Through an innovative waste collection and recycling program, the poor can exchange collected waste for transport coupons and food.

Much of the success of Curitiba is attributed to inspirational political leadership and professional expertise. The Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba (IPPUC), an independent planning agency, has greatly contributed to sustainable development of Curitiba. 

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