Global Network

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The Mega-Cities Coordinator in Rio de Janeiro is an architect and urban planner and has been the Technical Assistant of the Planning and Special Studies Advisory Unit of the Host Institution since January 1990. She received her BA in Architecture and Urbanism and her MS in Urban and Regional Planning from the Universidade de Federal do Rio de Janeiro. At the Santa Ursula University, she served as Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture Theory and Project, and Coordinator of the Seminar on Low-Income Housing and Planning. She was a member of the UNDP-LIFE Programme Steering Committee in Brazil in 1993, and has been a member of the Urban Management Programme of the Advisory Committee of UNDP/Habitat/World Bank since September 1992. She is currently a consultant for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) and a member of the Advisory Panel.



The Mega-Cities Host Institution in Rio was created in 1952 by a group of civic leaders as a private, nonprofit, and nonpolitical organization to serve as the technical arm of the municipalist movement prevalent in Brazil at that time. The Host Institution provides research, training, and technical assistance to federal, state, metropolitan, and local authorities.

The Host Institution's basic objective is to promote and consolidate the municipality in the national government system as an effective agent in the process of social and economic development. It places great emphasis on institutional development as a means of achieving its fundamental objective, the transformation of municipalities from mere organizations into real institutions.

In rendering technical assistance, the Host Institution pays special attention to critical variables in the institution-building process, such as leadership, policies, objectives, programs, financial resources, and internal structure. It also places emphasis on developing a system of communications linkages, which is essential to the municipality in its efforts to get support, overcome resistance, exercise normative influence, and offer products that respond to the demands of the community. This combination of institution building and system approach has proved quite effective in the Host Institution's technical assistance work.

The Host Institution conducts its activities in the following fields: consultancy in loco, consultancy at a distance, human resources development, action-oriented research, publications, and participation in international events.



  • Demetre Barcile Anasstassakis, President, Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil (IAB)
  • Roberto Satumino Braga, Councillor, Cãmara Municipal Do Rio De Janeiro (Rio's City Council)
  • Claudius Ceccon, Secretary, Centro de Criação de Imagem Popular (CECIP)
  • Vera Chevalier, Representative, Ecomarapendi - Associação Projeto Lagoa de Marapendi
  • Maria Teresa Oliveira Ewbank, Representative, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública (ENSP)
  • Jodo Augusto Fortes, President, Ecomarapendi - Associação Projeto Lagoa de Marapendi
  • Augusto Sérgio Pinto Guimarqes, Director, Fundação Pro-Vita
  • Israel Klabin, President, Fundação Brasileira Para o Desenvovimento Sustentãvel
  • Haroldo Nattos de Lemos, National Secretary of Environmental Issues, Ministry of the Environment
  • Jaime Lerner, Instituto Jaime Lerner
  • Mrs. Liana, Instituto Brasil -PNUMA
  • Jodo Roberto Marinho, Vice-President, "O Globo" Newspaper - Editor do Grande Rio
  • Diogo Lordello de Mello, Professor and Special Advisor for International Issues, Instituto
  • Brasileiro de Administração Municipal
  • Fernando Mozart, Fundação Progresso
  • Ricardo Neves, Director and President, Instituto da Technogia Para o Cidadão (ITC)
  • Eduardo Novaes, Representative, Instituto de Technogia Para o Cidadão (ITC)
  • Paulo Manual Protãsio, President, Associação Commercial do Rio de Janeiro
  • José Ramos, Secretary of Housing, Ministry of Social Well-Being
  • Nãdia Rebougas, Office of Marketing and Comunication
  • Antonio Rezende, Associação Das Empresas Brasileiras De Software e Serviços de Informática (Assespro)
  • Rogério Santana, Federação das Associações de Moradores do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAMERJ)
  • Fernando Reis da Costa e Silva, President, Banco Empresarial S.A.
  • Martim Oscar Smolka, Representative, Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano e Regional
  • (IPPUR), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
  • Herbert de Souza, Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Economicas (IBASE)
  • Isreal Taback, Jomal do Brasil, Editora Brasil
  • Mauro Ribeiro Viegas, Professor, Conselho Empresarial de Meio Ambiente/Firjan
  • Agostinho Viera, Editor, Caderno Cidades
  • Sergio Zweiter, Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil - OAB



Portuguese explorers first identified the site of present-day Rio de Janeiro in January of 1502. Finding what they believed to be the mouth of a giant river, they named the area River of January. Rio's exceptional geographical location and its proximity to the country's greatest industrial centers made it an attraction point for large migratory flows of the poor population. In 1763, Rio de Janeiro displaced Salvador da Bahia as the colonial capital of Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro has a population of 5,093,232 inhabitants and the total for the metropolitan area is 9,018,637 inhabitants, making it the second largest metropolitan area in Brazil. The state of Rio de Janeiro has a population of 11,297,327. At its current annual population growth rate of 0.8%, the city will house 12.5 million people by 2000. In 1985 Rio contained 10.4% of Brazil's total urban population. Many of Rio's poor people live in informal squatter settlements called favelas. The table below compares the population growth in the favelas to that of the city as a whole:

Year Population of Favelas (a) Total Population of Rio (b) a / b (%) % Favela Growth by Decade % Population Growth of Rio By Decade

 Year Population of Favelas (a) Total Population of Rio (b) a/b% % Favela Growth by Decade %Population Growth of Rio by Decade
1950  169,305 2,337,451 7.24 - -
1960  337,412 3,307,163 10.20  99.29 41.49
1970  563,970 4,251,918 13.26 67.15 28.57
1980  628,170 5,093,232 12.33 11.38 19.79
1991  1,001,336 5,480,768 18.27  59.41 7.60

Source: IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics)

GNP per capita = $3010

Economically active population: 1,993,733 (1980)

Principal Economic Activities: Manufacturing industry, mainly centering on textiles and clothing, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the foodstuffs industry, the processing of non-metallic minerals, and the graphic arts sector. Rio de Janeiro is an important center for finance, tourism, and services.

Number of enterprises: 99,488

Health and Environment
Hospitals: almost 200

Hospital beds: 40,000

Medical Doctors: 15,000

Infrastructure and Social Services
Estimation of unconventional housing: 192 favelas

School Units: 2,847

University establishments: 57

Students in university: 146,558

Museums: 28

Theaters: 50

Greater Rio is crossed by 700 miles of paved roads. Nearly 200 road transport enterprises carry some 900 million passengers annually. The traditional railroads, the Central do Brasil and the Leopoldina railways, both of which are part of the federal rail system, carry some 118 million passengers per year between the city center and the main suburban and rural centers. Along the shores of the Bahia de Guanabara, as well as on the islands in the interior of the bay, water transportation is provided by motorboats, ferry boats, and hydrofoils. By the early 1980's the subway transported some 250,000 passengers per day. Two modern airports –Galeao for domestic and international services, and Santos Dumont for domestic airlines – make Rio the primary center for air services in Brazil.

The city of Rio de Janeiro has confronted serious difficulties throughout its history in providing urban services and facilities. Rio de Janeiro's water supply and sewage is operated by the Companhia Estadual de Aguas e Esgotos, a state company. The sewer network is 4,287 miles long and has a disposal facility in deep water several miles from the coast in order to avoid pollution of the beaches in the area.



The Nature of Landscape
An environmental education program established by a non-profit organization called Rio Cine, The Nature of Landscape was designed to stimulate the participation of all social sectors in practical and theoretical activities for improving the urban environment. It began as a comprehensive and popular education program for schools, targeting the first and second grades. Children, staff, and teachers were conceived of as "multipliers" who would undertake outreach activities with their families and community to disseminate the environmental messages and practices learned in the classroom.

The program is now being expanded to include all sectors of the environment, training multipliers as an essential element of the program to act as environmental educators. Multipliers can be representatives of schools, communities, businesses, church groups, or other groups. They act in their own sector, utilizing the methods and materials distributed to them by Rio Cine to identify local environmental problems, suggest possible solutions, and organize community projects. Materials provided by Rio Cine include information sheets, flip charts, educational games, videos, and general, technical, and educational books. The type and quantity of help provided varies according to the target population. Rio Cine and the multipliers stay well-informed about each other's activities through monthly reports, local Nature of the Landscape newspapers, meetings, and field trips.

Reforestation of Favelas
Poor drainage, deforestation, and erosion of Rio's hillsides is a serious threat to the physical safety of the low-income favela residents inhabiting them, and a serious environmental threat to the metropolitan area. Every year flooding kills hundreds of favela residents, and eroded soil fills the city's bays and harbors.

Since 1980, the Favela Residents Association and the Municipal Social Source Secretariat have been developing a multi-pronged project of drainage, sewage, reforestation, and environmental education. The planting of fruit trees and vegetables on the hillsides has served to prevent erosion, prevent further precarious settlement, provide jobs, and enrich the diet of some communities. It has also reduced the public expenditure for costly civil engineering works that have often been called for to reinforce these hillsides against erosion. Most significant from a development point of view, the local authority financially compensates favela residents for their reforestation work, which is managed within the community.



The Host Institution is currently negotiating a contract with the Waste Management Municipal Corporation (COMLURB) to transfer Magic Eyes, an anti-littering campaign for children, from Bangkok. The Mega-Cities team is monitoring the project, which incorporates the efforts of a local artist to make the necessary cultural adjustments, as well as the Viva Rio Movement, which organizes the street events related to the campaign.

There is also work in progress, led by a member of the Mega-Cities steering committee and representative of the Public Health National School (ENSP), to transfer the Child-to-Child project from Bombay to Rio. A transfer of a Los Angeles project called Small Business Waste Reduction is in the implementation stage and is being tested on a small scale by the Guanabara Bay De-Pollution Group. There are also studies underway, with support from the Brazilian Institute for Economic and Social Analysis (IBASE), to transfer to Rio a New York project called City Harvest that helps supply soup kitchens and homeless shelters with food.


The Mega-Cities Project is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status.
Founder and President: Janice Perlman, PhD. Information:
Copyright 2000-2007 The Mega-Cities Project. All rights reserved.