An initiative to reverse the impacts of climate change
We cannot wait for magical solutions to address the climate crisis!
In 2023, both the states of São Paulo and Pernambuco suffered from extreme rainfall caused by climate change. Climate disasters throughout Brazil have resulted in hundreds of deaths and displaced thousands of people. The National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM) reported that in December 2022 alone, 245 municipalities declared a state of emergency, and over 525,000 people were affected. Additionally, there were 33 deaths during the same period due to landslides, floods, and flash floods.
The flooding crisis in Recife is not a recent issue. In 1975, the city was devastated by a flood that submerged 80% of its inhabited area. Journalist Homero Fonseca documented the event in his book, describing how the city was in disarray with trees uprooted, cars overturned, and wildlife invading the city. It was impossible to distinguish where the river ended and where the city began. Unfortunately, fifty years later, the city is still grappling with a similar problem.(G1, 2015)
The warmer ocean and temperatures above 27°C have resulted in increasingly intense rainfall, according to oceanographer Moacyr Araújo, coordinator of the Brazilian Network of Research on Global Climate Change (Rede Clima). The lack of urban planning is the cause of the floods, as filling in areas of rivers, mangroves, or green spaces to build buildings or houses leads to a loss of water drainage capacity, causing water to overflow and flood the city.(CEERMA, 2022)
Mercedes Bustamante, a Brazilian scientist and reviewer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 2021, warns about the risks cities face, as 80% of the population is in urban centres. Therefore, urgent measures for risk mitigation are needed.
To address this issue is essential to seek more sustainable energy solutions and reduce carbon production, the leading cause of the greenhouse effect. Investment in risk and damage mitigation caused by climate change must be a priority in the budget of cities and nations. More effective public policies are necessary to deal with public transport, active mobility, and awareness of excessive consumption and pollution. As young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said, there is no time for empty promises or plans that will not work. We must change now, or there will be no tomorrow.
Lab Storm Olinda Launch
On March 18, 2023, Casa Criatura hosted the launch of Lab Tempestade, the Climate Actions Laboratory in Olinda (PE). The international social innovation network, Global Innovation Gathering, of which Instituto Procomum and Casa Criatura are part, secured funding from the German Nord-Süd Brüken Foundation to create the Climate Change Laboratory in the city, chosen for its creative and cultural potential, but also for facing historical problems with climate disasters, such as landslides and vulnerable housing.
The event hosted over 80 people representing various sectors, including public institutions such as the councils of Olinda and Recife and the Pernambuco Water and Climate Agency – APAC; educational and research institutions such as the Federal University of Pernambuco, Catholic University, CESAR School and Federal Institutes; as well as civil society organisations, actively represented by collectives, indigenous ethnic groups, and NGOs.
The meeting was notable for the diverse array of attendees, including young people, designers, architects, teachers, communicators, cultural and content producers, environmental activists, public managers, and residents.
Participants of the event
With years of experience in research and projects related to the development of public policies and institutional actions focused on sustainability, Rayane Aguiar led the #labtempestade project ceremony in Olinda, of which she is the coordinator, with enthusiasm. Passionate about the issue of climate change, she is one of the project leaders and, together with Isac Filho and Juliana Rabello, spoke about the actions carried out by Casa Criatura
Casa Criatura: a living laboratory of the creative economy and social innovation in the historic city of Olinda
Isac Filho and Juliana Rabello, representatives of Casa Criatura, share the organisation’s story, from its beginnings in the Amparo neighbourhood to its current headquarters in Carmo. Casa Criatura’s work was to occupy and revitalise abandoned spaces. During the pandemic, the organisation adapted its operations to the creative economy in response to the emergency demand caused by Covid-19. One of Casa Criatura’s projects, the Careables Casa Criatura, received support from the Mozilla Foundation and produced artefacts such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the Aerosol Box for Intensive Care Units (ICUs). The work resulted in the international publication Viral Design.
Casa Criatura also got involved in the project to create urban farms Begreen and in a consortium of public and private actors to build Brazil’s first circular economy innovation lab, located in Fernando de Noronha is part of Noronha’s Plastic Zero project, supported by Ball Corporation. The organisation also collaborated with the Trama de Saberes initiative, which took place in Belo Jardim, through the Conceição Moura Institute, and produced a series of educational games in a campaign known as “Turning the Game“
The international social innovation network Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) has been a great partner in the initiatives promoted by Casa Criatura. The organisation continues to work hard to create innovative and creative solutions to the socio-environmental challenges of its surroundings.
The Commons is a Power: Procomum and Empowerment of Communities to Promote Social Transformations
Next, a video shows Marina Paes, coordinator of LabTempestade and member of the Procomum Institute. In the video, Marina highlights that laboratories have the potential to find solutions applicable to territories and presents the main problems caused by climate change. She also mentions the eight settlements in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro that participated in the Climate Change Lab with the support of the British Council.
Since its foundation, the Procomum Institute has been concerned with climate crises and sustainability. This concern intensified in 2020 during the pandemic when the Climate Change LAB happened. In this laboratory, several organisations such as ECO-Maré from Rio de Janeiro, Sustenta Grafitti from São Vicente, SAF Aldeia Tekoá Kwaray from Peruíbe, and Alagados from Santos developed prototypes related to the theme. The results were very positive, including initiatives for reforestation, revitalisation of public spaces, and valorisation of indigenous communities.
Global Innovation Gathering: A Vibrant and Diverse Community of Innovation Hubs and Open Knowledge
Next, the Global Innovation Gathering network is presented as a major partner for realising the Climate Change Laboratory in Olinda.
The Global Innovation Gathering is a global community of people who work with innovation or are part of innovation hubs and open knowledge. The GIG is a platform for people and organisations seeking to create a positive impact in their local and global communities. The GIG promotes diversity, inclusion and sustainability in innovation through events, projects and initiatives. It has supported diverse initiatives, from prototyping for emerging responses like COVID-19 to citizen science initiatives like CoAct.
Ibura + culture: collective action for strengthening citizen actions in the Ibura neighbourhood
Climate change is the agenda of our lives – Lídia Lins.
Lídia Lins, a member of the Ibura + Culture Collective, discusses the projects and actions undertaken by her group. The neighbourhood of Ibura was one of the most affected by recent rains in Pernambuco, where the Jardim Monte Verde community was one of the hardest hit. Hundreds of deaths and disappearances happened due to landslides and floods. The phenomenon was considered the biggest tragedy of the century in Pernambuco, surpassing the catastrophic flood of 1975.
The collective is composed of young people who work with cultural initiatives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges and highlighted social disparities that required a change in the group’s focus, shifting its attention to supporting and ensuring food security for the most vulnerable. The second phase of the collective’s work was marked by landslides when the initiative mobilised in a joint effort to locate bodies in the landslides and provide support to those displaced by the rain.
Lídia points out the lack of accountability of public institutions, such as civil defence, in the face of emergencies caused by rains in her region.
About the Ibura + Culture Collective
The Ibura + Culture Collective is an initiative that promotes culture and art as tools for social transformation in the Ibura neighbourhood of Recife. Through free activities and workshops, the project empowers the local population and fosters cultural production in the area, strengthening its identity and promoting integration among residents. The collective also carries out citizenship actions and dialogues with local authorities to discuss important issues for the community. For more information, click here.
Maria Farinha at risk: how climate change threatens marine biodiversity in the region
It is a mission to protect our green and coastal areas. We need to combat the gentrification of beaches and mangroves, where fishing communities reside. – Fernando Macedo.
Fernando Macedo founded the “Salve Maria Farinha” project, which promotes environmental education with a participatory and engaging approach. During a presentation, Fernando mentioned the unprecedented consequences of climate phenomena, such as the five hailstorms that devastated food production in Pernambuco. He also drew attention to the uncontrolled urban growth in the Maria Farinha region of Paulista, and the illegal occupation of companies in green and coastal areas, citing Votorantim as an example.
He also spoke about the impact of the 2019 oil spill on local fishing production. He highlighted the quilombola fishing community of Vila de Cunheras and the current popular mobilisation against the Votorantim occupation project in the region.
About the Salve Maria Farinha Movement
The Salve Maria Farinha project is an environmental education initiative to raise awareness about preserving the environment and natural resources. Through educational actions and social mobilisation, the project seeks to address environmental issues in the Maria Farinha region of Pernambuco, focusing on areas such as coastal protection and food security. In addition, the project works to promote sustainable development and the construction of a more environmentally conscious and responsible society.
Mata Sul Movement: indigenous science in support of local sustainability
Our struggle is for the demarcation of indigenous lands and the recognition of our identity. Because our values and practices are in tune with nature. – Kadu Tapuya
Kadu Tapuya, a young indigenous leader from Mata Sul, addresses sugarcane monoculture and slave labour as negative legacies in the region’s history. He highlights the conflict of interests between the sugarcane mill owners and the local communities and advocates for the demarcation of indigenous lands.
Tapuya emphasises the importance of maintaining indigenous territories for producing pesticide-free foods and perpetuating native cultures, which value sustainable practices and are in tune with nature. He is one of the leaders of the Mata Sul Retake Movement in Pernambuco and stresses that indigenous community resistance happens through the perpetuation of language and spirituality. To strengthen indigenous identity and culture, Kadu mentions the “Declare Yourself, Relative” project, an initiative IBGE supported to stimulate self-declaration and recognition of belonging to indigenous and quilombola communities.
Kadu Tapuya also comments on the incorporation of indigenous communities by the government, citing tribes in Escada, Barreiros, Jaqueira, and Arraial that the local government incorporated. He highlights the importance of combating the erasure of indigenous cultures, which occurred through violent processes such as rape and the non-recognition of the origins and history of ethnic groups, leading to the disappearance of many of these groups.
About the Indigenous reclamation movement from Pernambuco
The movement led by Kadu Tapuya, of Xukuru origin, along with other young people, seeks to reclaim the identity of ethnic groups – indigenous and quilombola – located in cities in the Mata Sul region of the state of Pernambuco. Among the initiatives proposed by the movement is the “Declare Yourself, Relative!” action, which aims to encourage people in indigenous territories to self-declare as indigenous.
One plus one is always more than two: social movements unite forces to preserve Pina
We need to bring the periphery to the centre of the debate (on climate change) and action. – Pedro Pirrita
During his presentation, Pedro Pirrita – founder of the Pirrita’s Friend Movement – emphasised the importance of the activities carried out in the Pina territory by his project. He stressed that one of the initiatives is an environmental itinerary that involves local school students and promotes agroecological agriculture in the region.
Pedro highlighted that bringing the periphery to the centre of the debate and action is crucial. In addition, Pedro highlighted the essential role of the mangrove ecosystem as a natural barrier against the advances of the sea. He mentioned the work of fishermen who act as tour guides and raise awareness about the region’s importance.
The project also directly supports entrepreneurship projects, including the Negra Linda Institute, and collaborates with the waste collectors and shrimp nurseries cooperative. These initiatives aim to strengthen the community and promote sustainable development in the Pina region.
The Pirrita’s friend movement
The neighbourhood of Pina, located north of Boa Viagem, has a rich cultural effervescence, marked by various social movements and organisations. Pina has aroused interest from real estate companies, becoming a target of speculation and generating tensions regarding evictions. Important artisanal fishing communities are present in Pina, and removing these communities would negatively impact more than 900 families. The Pirrita’s friend movement has stood out for its various social actions, such as distributing basic food baskets, educational initiatives for environmental awareness and women’s rights, and promoting events and meetings to bring together local entrepreneurs, especially those focused on experiential and community tourism.
The fight for climate justice in protected areas: evaluating the effectiveness of preservation plans
It is necessary to monitor environmental plans and fight for climate justice in Pernambuco – Sylvia Siqueira
Sylvia Siqueira is an ecofeminist concerned with the negative impacts of construction projects directly affecting Environmental Protection Areas (APA). In collaboration with the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, she is monitoring a project that aims to measure these impacts.
Additionally, she is working to create a climate justice platform in Pernambuco and monitor the effectiveness of the state’s decarbonisation plan. She has been raising these issues within the Sustainability Network, a political party led by Marina Silva, the former Minister of the Environment.
About Sylvia Siqueira Campos
Sylvia Siqueira Campos is a human rights activist and considers herself an ecofeminist. With 23 years of experience in activism and educational projects for children, adolescents, and young people, she leads several organisations such as the International Movement of Socialist Education, the Mirim Brasil movement, and ABONG (PE). She also collaborates with the National Civil Society Working Group for the United Nations 2030 Agenda and is part of the state council for Human Rights in Pernambuco.
Public management and climate change: what are the necessary strategies to face the challenges?
It’s worrying to see institutions like APAC losing credibility when issuing weather warnings, and this information is seen as a “joke” by the population. – Edvânia Santos.
Hugo Marins, General Manager of International Relations for the Recife City Government, discusses the importance of climate change studies and highlights the city’s Vulnerability Map and Index. He also emphasises the need for a decarbonisation plan implemented by public policies in Pernambuco.
Meteorologist Edvânia Santos begins her presentation with the question, “What do you think when you think of APAC’s weather forecast?” She points out that technical information is often not communicated clearly to the population, which can lead to a loss of credibility for the institutions responsible for issuing the warnings. Edvânia highlights the importance of popularising meteorological information and that daily monitoring by the population can help prevent climate disasters. Next, she presents the APAC website and a satellite monitoring system. Finally, Edvânia emphasises the need for global warming and cooling research and mentions a study of extreme events delivered last year.
Some public initiatives in Pernambuco to deal with Climate Change:
- The GECLIMA (Executive Group for Monitoring the Municipal Plan for Climate Change) was established by Decree No. 27,343/2013 and is composed of members of the Municipal Public Administration. Its main objectives are to present and internally discuss actions and projects in the environmental area and provide information for decision-making by management. The Vice-Mayor, Isabella de Roldão, is the president of GECLIMA.
- The Pernambuco Water and Climate Agency (APAC) is an agency linked to the state government of Pernambuco, responsible for monitoring and predicting the climatic, hydrological, and meteorological conditions of the state, as well as issuing alerts to the population about extreme events, such as heavy rains and prolonged droughts.
- ARIES (Recife Agency for Innovation and Strategy) is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote adopting renewable energy and sustainable solutions for developing the energy sector. It promotes public policies and business strategies encouraging generating renewable energy and energy efficiency. ARIES also works on training professionals and disseminating information on clean and sustainable energy. It has been acting as a co-executor of CITinova..
- The CITinova initiative is a Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI) project that aims to promote the development of intelligent and sustainable cities in Brazil. The project involves the implementation of technological and innovative solutions to urban challenges, such as mobility, security, environment, and public management. In addition, the initiative seeks to encourage cooperation between the public sector, companies, and civil society to promote innovation and sustainability in Brazilian cities. It is developing a pilot project in Recife and Brasília. Watch the institutional video about the project.
- The Sustainable Cities project is an initiative that aims to engage public managers and society in general in building more sustainable cities. Through the online platform, indicators and tools are available to evaluate and monitor the performance of cities in areas such as the environment, mobility, health, education, and governance, among others. In addition, the project seeks to encourage the adoption of public policies and practices that promote urban sustainability and the population’s well-being.
An open debate for contributions
Alexandre Miranda is a public manager and a resident of Jardim Fragoso, an area that has suffered from flooding for almost 40 years. He was an activist in movements such as Amigos da Praia, Mais Parques Olinda, and Fragoso Resiste. However, Alexandre feels disconnected from the social mobilisation movement because of his position as a public manager. He has been a victim of the climate disasters that affect his region. He says that the rains of 2022, which occurred in June, directly affected the creative sector, leading to the cancellation of cultural activities.
Edna Dantas and Maria Gabrielly Dantas live in Casa de Sal in Itamaracá, a region that was a tourist hotspot in Pernambuco. To help preserve the local environment, they built a house from glass bottles and waste collected from the mangrove and other areas in the region. According to Edna, there is enough waste in Itamaracá to build 10 more houses like theirs. Unfortunately, there are few local initiatives to support the environment in Itamaracá. She appeals for environmental preservation projects to develop in the region and Itamaracá as a place needing support.
Call for proposals registration
Casa Criatura and Instituto Procomum, in partnership with Global Innovation Gathering, are launching a public call for the first Climate Action Laboratory in Olinda, Pernambuco, to be held on April 14-15, 2023 and May 6, 2023. People over 18 years old can apply and will receive support grants for the development of prototypes to address climate change.