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Rio prepares its resilience plan

The statue of Christ the Redeemer watches over 6.4 million citizens in one of the most famous cities in the world. Rio de Janeiro’s beauty is incomparable and it is now on its way to becoming resilient, guaranteeing the safety of its residents and the city’s operation in extreme conditions. The Resilient Rio initiative, launched at the beginning of the year, by City Hall, is working in conjunction with various organisations to develop a resilience plan.

A series of meetings were held from 27th to 30th July of this year between municipal and external organisations, such as WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil, to debate the key issues in the development of the initiative, focusing on four areas:

  • resilient behaviour
  • climate change
  • resilient management
  • socioeconomic resilience

Magdala Arioli, coordinator for Transport and Climate Projects, and Katerina Elias, research analyst at WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil, took part in the meetings to cover the first three areas. Among the planned projects for resilient behaviour are civil defence education and drills in schools, individual resilience indicators (currently being developed by WRI Brasil | EMBARQ Brasil), and dialogues and strategies for civil security. The question of climate change considers strategies for the reduction in water and energy consumption, use of solar energy, efficient public lighting, heat island and air quality, and dealing with rain and strong winds, among other aspects. Resilient management brings together elements such as the institutionalisation of Resilient Rio, resilience indicators, metropolitan integration, digitization of information and the use of big data in decision-making, among others.

Rio’s geographical and geological characteristics, as well as its high-risk constructions on hillsides, makes it a frequent victim of heavy rainfall and the potential consequences that may follow such as landslides, floods, and other disasters that take a toll on lives as much as infrastructure. Currently, the city has a Warning and Community Alert System as well as a contingency plan for residents in high-risk areas during extreme situations.

The next step in consolidating the plan will be a workshop in October, focusing on the validation of individual resilience indicators (IRI).

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100 Resilient Cities

Rio de Janeiro is part of 100 Resilient Cities, a Rockefeller Foundation project aiming to create a global network of resilient cities to share tested techniques and information in order to overcome urban challenges such as high-risk or irregular areas which are vulnerable to rain, floods and landslides. According to Rockefeller, resilience can be measured by a city’s elasticity and capacity for recovery and adaptation. The main idea is to make cities better prepared to face extreme conditions, whether they’re natural or man-made, and able to recover quickly, making them stronger than ever. Porto Alegre (RS) is the other Brazilian city in the network that is also developing its resilience plan. The project there is being spearheaded by the City Hall’s Governance Department with support from a Director Council that EMBARQ Brasil is part of. The council is responsible for defining macro actions in the management of the program, as well as a plan of action, its timescale and key areas of focus.

Originally published on the EMBARQ Brasil website. With information from Rio de Janeiro City Hall.

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