Saving more and using the minimum

On December 5th 2013 Mistra Urban Futures had the pleasure to welcome Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Brazilian Curitiba to the office in Gothenburg. Mr. Lerner has been mayor of Curitiba for three periods and he has been governor of the region Paraná for two periods. Originally an architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner is famous for having implemented an innovative public transport system as well as a number of social, ecological and urban reforms.

Lars Reuterswärd, Director at Mistra Urban Futures, started the meeting with an overall presentation of the Centre. Thereafter, Ulrike Rahe, Alexandros Nikitas and Isabel Ordonez, working with Shanghai related urban design oriented projects, together with Jonas Nässén from the WISE-project gave a short overview of their research areas before Jaime Lerner shared his impressing achievements in Curitiba.

“Normally society and politicians deal with main problems like health care, education and safety”, he started. “But in urban development focus need to be on three issues: mobility, sustainability and social diversity. Basically the challenge is to transform a problem into a solution.”

Jaime Lerner had the ambition to develop the city of Curitiba to a modern, well-functioning city for everyone, including a huge improvement of the public transport system. With his double articulated buses that can take up to 300 passengers, the Bus Rapid Transit system today transports 2.7 million passengers a day. He stuck to his plan for the city; developed the public transport, built cultural centres and made open parks - and after 20 years it started to show real effect.

“The most important focus in order to achieve a sustainable city is to get people to use their car less and public transportation more – and to separate your garbage. Saving more and using the minimum. Most importantly, the systems need to be easy; if too complicated people will simply not just do it.”

The meeting ended with a mutual agreement that it would be interesting to explore a potential future cooperation.

Photo of Curitiba buses: Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz