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REGIONS AMERICAS


Greeningrecovery T


THEMAYORSPEAKS:RAFAELGRECA THE MAYOR OF CURITIBA IN BRAZIL TALKS TO WENDY ATKINS ABOUT BUILDING A ROUTE TO RECOVERY


CITYPROFILE CURITIBA


Population 1,948,626 (IBGE, 2020)


GDPper capita 45,458.29 reais (IBGE, 2018)


Keysectors Services (commerce, microenterprise and technology); industry; agriculture (InvestCuritiba)


he scale of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil has been devastating, with the country recording among the highest


case ratesanddeaths in theworld. Althoughthe southern city of Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, has experienced mixed fortunes, its mayor, Rafael Greca, says he is looking to drive sustain- ability and innovation as a route to recovery. For Mr Greca, sustainability is vital to the


city’s fortunes. “We’re a big industrial centre with three million inhabitants. We’re known as the capital of the Paraná state famous for production of coffee, soybeans and wheat,” he says. “A year ago we were on the up, economi- cally. We had high hopes of transforming our- selves into a reference case for clean energy. But then the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. “In the beginning, it looked like Curitiba


would be spared, but Covid-19 hit the city very seriously in July and August.Wetook a number of measures to increase hospital capacity, including transforming a local hospital for the elderly into one dedicated exclusively to Covid- 19. In total, we created 1314 beds to treat Covid- 19, plus an extra 400 intensive care beds, excluding private hospitals.”


“We’ve invested in solar energy throughout


Innovation Mr Greca reports that innovation has been vital during the worst periods of the crisis, including implementing video calls for medi- cal consultations as well as the use of robots and artificial intelligence. One of the city’s biggest innovations, he says,


has been the development of a care manage- ment AI robot called Laura, which specialises in clinical deterioration, healthcare protocols, pro- cess monitoring and being a digital personal assistant, enabling vital early intervention. Mr Greca believes the city has reacted well


to the crisis and is nowin a good financial posi- tion. “I viewed the situation last year as being like a bird. One wing was health and the other was the economy. We had to nurse these two wings across a difficult year so that we could return to growth,” he explains.


Sustainability As Curitiba looks to recover, Mr Greca says he is keen to press ahead with his plans for start-ups and the green economy. “We’re supporting start-ups throughPinion


Valley, our answer to Silicon Valley. We were keen to seed innovation before the pandemic and want to push that agenda forward now.


58


the city and we want to transform all public buildings into ones powered by the sun. We’re also working on a solar pyramid and a social housing scheme in thenewdistrict of Caximba, which will be fed by solar panels and has received $43m in finance from the French Development Agency.” Other initiatives include a hydroelectric pro-


ject topromote clean energy; the development of public transport using electronic vehicles; and organising 50 cooperatives to process rubbish so it can be reused by the local cement industry. “We’re also focused on green areas,” says Mr


Greca.“We have about 800 squares and 43 large parks planted withnative trees, plusmore than 30 privatewoods.Andwe’re investing in asmall urban farm, vegetable gardens and orchards. The urban farm is a food and nutrition teach- ing centre, and is operated by Sweden’s Malmö University in partnership with the Catholic University of Paraná. For Mr Greca, putting young people at the


heart of the city’s sustainability plans is essen- tial. He says: “Children are the future, so I’m working with them to make them conscious of clean energy. Everyone loves and supports ecology. Our children are learning to love their trees.” ■


www.fDiIntelligence.com April/May 2021


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