Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba, Brazil




Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba is known to be one of the most sustainable cities in Brazil, highlighting their transportation plan along with the city’s parks that transformed the city. The city is also recognized as the ecological capital of Brazil (Mikesh, 2009).  The key to the city’s success in a number of projects is the strategy behind all of the development, and its focus on improving the quality of life for the residents of Curitiba. The city’s transportation development plan began in 1970, unlike other planners in the rest of the world; Curitiba used an integrative approach to fix the problem of transportation in the city to better help develop it (ICLEI, 2002).

The huge project that caught a lot of people’s attention all around Latin America was the rapid bus transit system that began in the Center of Curitiba, The project initially started to help control the growth of the city, connected to five lines that go all around the city. The bus carries around 300 passengers, in addition to the fact that it is faster than cars during rush hour, simply because the buses have their own lanes, which they do not share with cars. I was fortunate enough to visit Curitiba and witness first hand the success of the bus system. Amongst the things I noticed about the system were how low-priced the bus tickets are, and how organized the stations were, in addition to the waiting stops that were designed as tubes people stand in and wait for the bus to arrive and simply take one step to enter it, as you can see in figure 1.

Figure 1: Bus Services in Curitiba

Curitiba exhibits a contrast of classes given the presence of slums that have emerged around the city’s outskirts harboring an estimated 1,700 new individuals moving from rural areas into the city each month. The population of the city has grown exponentially over the past fifty years, albeit limited resources. Despite such challenges, the city has exhibited exceptional planning capabilities in allocation of public spaces and alignment of social amenities for use by the public. Curitiba has been able to avoid impediments towards socioeconomic development and effective planning for a majority of third world cities faced with exceptional levels of population growth.

The city has been able to overcome issues such as excessive levels of pollution, unemployment, poverty, inequity, and crime, which has contributed towards an elevated quality of life amongst the employees. The United Nations lauded the city of Curitiba as a leading example of exceptional ecological and urban development and planning. The number of green space per capita within the city has rise over the past thirty years from a poor 0.5 square meters per inhabitant to more than 50square meters per individual (Irazabal, 2002). Almost a fifth of the city is designated for public spaces and parks.

More than 1 million trees in the city have been planted by volunteers along avenues and streets. In addition, the fast, efficient and effective rapid mass system that has contributed to improved air quality levels by eliminating the need for people to use private means of transport. The mass rapid transit system has contributed to a reduction of more than 30% in vehicle related traffic in the city, while taking into consideration that the city’s population has grown more than double since 1974 (Irazabal, 2005). In addition, the figures also take into consideration that the city has the highest number of car owners per capita than any other location in Brazil.

Research indicates that the city has the highest number of citizens who prefer recycling used products and materials, with more than 70% of all garbage in the city being recycled (Schwartz, 2004). The planning and budgeting strategies used in city have contributed to high levels of sustainability as evident by the small civic budget that has been utilized to achieve numerous urban planning, development and ecological goals (Irazabal, 2005). A majority of the programs initiated by the city are sustainable in that they provide continued self-sustenance from revenues accrued. The sustainability of programs has contributed to high levels of success in addressing a variety of civic issues and challenges through systematic coordination and interactions between activities and programs. For example, the Green Exchange is a reliable program that has contributed towards high level of ecological sustenance and development.

The sustainable model exhibited by the city has provided ingenious avenues to accumulate revenue such as from the recycling program, which has provided resources of funding health and educational programs targeting the vulnerable populations in the city (Schwartz, 2004). A majority of the educational programs initiated utilize city buses, which are utilized as mobile classrooms such that vulnerable populations living in the city’s outskirts can be provided with opportunities for accumulation of knowledge and skills for survival.

Additionally, social and educational programs have also generated revenues for the city (Schwartz, 2004). For example, the day care centers generate revenue through contributions such as art and crafts that are sold in local and national locations as souvenirs (Irazabal, 2005). It is critical to note that sustainability has been achieved as a result of changes in attitudes and culture of the inhabitants of the city. Civic pride, responsibility and cultural consideration in Curitiban has contributed significantly to success of social programs focused on areas such as health, education and social amenities have played a role in the improvement in quality of life.



Irazabal, C. (2002). Curitiba and Portland: Architecture, city-making, and urban governance in the era of globalization. Berkeley, CA: University of California.

Irazabal, C. (2005). City making and urban governance in the Americas: Curitiba and Portland. London: Ashgate.

Schwartz, H. (2004). Urban renewal, municipal revitalization: The case of Curitiba, Brazil. Alexandria, VA: Schwartz.


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