The UNDP global policy centre in Brazil was honoured at the 2016 edition of the Sustainability Award of the Rio de Janeiro Chamber of Commerce for ensuring continuity to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20).
The UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) received last Friday (10 June) the honour medal Life That You Want Alive, granted by the Rio de Janeiro Chamber of Commerce (ACRio). The UNDP Centre was awarded for keeping alive the commitments made at the UN sustainable development conferences held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and 2012. The medal was awarded to UNDP during the 7th edition of the ACRio Sustainability Award. Founded in 1806, the Rio Chamber is both Brazil’s oldest business association. The birthplace of the national confederations of industry (CNI), trade (CNC) and agriculture (CNA), the Rio Chamber works with a solid network of over 2,300 local associations and has 23 thematic business councils, including sustainable development.
“Part of our work is to show how to build sustainability through practical experience and examples. Sustainability needs to change the logic of consumption and production. The practices awarded here today show that working towards sustainability is indeed a good business”. Romulo Paes de Sousa, Director of the RIO+ Centre
The RIO+ Centre was established as a legacy of the historic Rio+ 20 Conference. Founded in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro as a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and the government of Brazil, RIO+ is one of the six UNDP global centres of excellence, working closely with the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support in New York and the UNDP country offices in 166 countries.
Sustainable development is much more than an inspiring concept. It is a required paradigm for the transformation of the development process, improving people’s lives with more social, environmental and economic justice. If sustainable development is to become the reference for action, it must make sense to businesses and citizens alike. According to the president of the Rio Chamber, Paulo Manoel Protasio, “Rio de Janeiro has a historic commitment to sustainability in Brazil and in the world. Not only for being the birthplace of historic United Nations conferences of 1992 and 2012, but also because of the city’s own commitment to the issue of sustainable development.”
For the president of the Business Council for the Environment and Sustainability, Haroldo Mattos de Lemos, the Sustainability Award serves to demystify the concept of “business as usual”. According to Lemos, sustainability is already the new business standard, as today’s consumers and citizens are conscious and increasingly require a leading role of companies in relation to the sustainable use of natural resources and also in promoting quality of life and well-being. In addition to granting of the medal of honour to UNDP, the event has awarded companies that have excelled in promoting sustainability in three categories (small, medium and large enterprises).
Hospitality, soccer and sustainability
Awarded in the small-enterprise category, the Maraca Hostel was created after a trip around the world by its founders William Carames, Roberto Sampaio and Celio Castro, who are all soccer lovers.
Located in the North Zone of Rio, a place usually considered with limited touristic potential, Maraca developed its lodging concept around the issue of sustainability and enhancing the tourism and commercial potential of its neighborhood, especially the Gastronomic Hub of Tijuca.
Through the rigorous adoption of important, but simple measures, such as the use of ecological furniture built with construction pallets; reducing water consumption, with the capture of rainwater for cleaning and pool supply; and waste reduction by weighing the waste produced in each room, the hostel has become a reference in sustainability, structuring its work around the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic.
The hostel also employs recycling and organic waste composting, and managed to reduce the consumption of electricity by replacing old devices, ensuring regular maintenance of the new ones, and enforcing permanent monitoring and control of electricity use. The amount of electricity and water saved brought clear economic benefits to the hostel: water consumption was reduced by almost 50% and the average electricity spent per guest dropped from 6 to 3.5 kWh per day.
Sustainable health care
With 218 hospital beds, the Cardoso Fontes Federal Hospital changed paradigms when it implemented bold sustainable practices in the medical-hospital sector, granting this Rio hospital the 2016 Sustainability Award in the medium-enterprise category.
According to the environmental manager of the hospital, Ieda Nogueira, “professionals working in healthcare have great difficulty to understand that the mission of saving lives can be associated with less impact on the environment.”
Another myth that had to be fought, according to the manager, “is that the hospital waste would be always infectious, when, in fact, 90% of the waste can be recycled.”
Facing obstacles with lots of information and debate, the hospital was able to cut down the amount of waste generated per year by more than 50 tons. The economic benefits were soon clear to all employees as the employment of recycling and composting measures generated savings of more than 130 thousand reais between the years 2012 and 2015.
Positive surprises in the cement and logistics industries
Owner of the largest tugboat fleet in South America, the Wilson Sons was awarded in the large-company category. The award recognized their innovative project of creating artificial reefs from the planned sinking of vessels that, due to their operating time, can no longer serve the shipping industry. Specialized in port terminal management and marine transportation, the company now disposes old tugboats in a way that supports sea biodiversity and increases the fisheries supply available to local fishing communities and villages.
With the permission of the Navy, the Brazilian Environmental Agency (Ibama) and state and local environmental agencies, vessels are completely clean of waste and residues and deliberately sunk to serve as artificial reefs in a carefully chosen location 10 km off the coast of Pernambuco state, at depths ranging from 25 to 35 meters. This underwater ‘park’ benefits the local communities by increasing fishing and promoting the development of activities related to ecotourism, such as underwater diving, in addition to serving as a scientific hub for cataloging species and studying the growth of marine life in artificial reefs. The area where the park is located registered a 20% increase in underwater diving and ecotourism, generating new economic opportunities to its communities.
The 2016 Awards also featured a mention to the LafargeHolcim company for its daring efforts to mainstream sustainability in the cement production chain. Brazil’s former Finance Minister and Ambassador to the United States, Marcílio Marques Moreira, president of the Council for Economic Policy at the Rio Chamber, stressed that “it is very important that a sustainability award recognizes the commitments of this productive sector, given that the cement industry was an extremely polluting activity”. The LafargeHolcim waste processing design avoids the disposal of pollutants and also generates fuel for cement manufacturing, thus reducing the use of fossil fuels.