Rio’s example in connecting people and the sustainable agenda

Photo: Virada Sustentável Rio 2017

By Lorenzo Casagrande

VIRADA SUSTENTÁVEL: Last Friday and during the weekend more than 500 activities were available all around the city in the frames of the First Sustainability Festival of Rio de Janeiro.

The Festival is an initiative that already occurs in another cities of Brazil, starting initially in São Paulo, and later spreading to other cities including Manaus and Porto Alegre. This year, Rio de Janeiro hosted its first edition.

The concept of the Festival is to gather many initiates that relate to sustainability, in its main different aspects, from urban mobility, water and sanitation to the self-reflexing and gaining consciousness.

This year’s event adopted the Sustainable Development Goals as the main guiding reference of the festival, and established the basis of discussion for the main panels which elaborated on urban mobility (SDG 11), gender empowerment (SDG 5), access to clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), healthy alimentation (SDG2), Climate Change (SDG13) and social inequalities (SDG10);

Besides the panels, many other organizations joined the event and organized parallel activities for them to demonstrate their original approaches and actions upon the global 2030 agenda. Specially, to show how they are TURNING a different path towards a more sustainable life. AND THAT’S what the SDG are all about: CHANGE!

The literal English translation of the name of the festival would be Turn of Sustainability (Virada Sustentável) Sustainable TURNING POINT, which gives a clear sense of what happened last weekend in Rio. The Cambridge dictionary defines  the verb “turn” as “change the direction in which you are facing or moving. The Festival offered a glimpse on the variety of the approaches for change of direction to be done; the way we eat and consume, our relation with the oppressed groups of society, our position regarding these minorities, OUR CONNECTION WITH NATURE… were some of the reflections raised during the three days.

Such an event gives a massive positive impact to the 2030 agenda by showing positive examples of people who are engaged and adopt the belief that in order to change the world, everyone must start by changing itself and its own attitudes. That’s the only way, as it is already recognized by the UN, that the sustainable development goals will become reality. Only if the citizens realize that they are part of the problem, they may turn to become part of the solution. Assuming this attitude, people will be able to pressure governments to take more actions towards a model of development with new standards; based on the concept of sustainability that includes EVERYONE and LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND.

By involving different areas of the city, such as the Museum of Tomorrow, Favela Cantagalo, as well as the wider metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, the Sustainable Festival signalized the relevance of the cities for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. By 2050, two-thirds of the population will live in cities, and Rio de Janeiro faces many of the problems that megacities, especially in the Global South, experience in common. Examples like those presented during the last weekend can show us how these issues are all connected, and can even point out how we can overcome them: by CONNECTING people and initiatives towards a same ultimate goal;

Last week Rio has given a wonderful example of how to do it. Let’s keep on the track!


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On last 9th, In the celebration of the World Environment Day/Week and as part of the Virada Sustentável Rio 2017, the RIO+ Centre has produced a Film-Debate Event in partnership with the Duque de Caxias Municipality at University UNIGRANRIO. The screening of the 65-minute film Baixada Nunca Se Rende was a kick-start for debates that happened subsequently regarding gender equality; urban violence; the role of education and arts for sustainable development; and sustainable, creative and inclusive cities.

Trailer of Documentary Baixada Nunca Se Rende