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“Cleaning up the Bay is no longer a failed attempt” | Report of the Day

Published 02/12/2024 05:00

With the dual role of vice-governor of Rio de Janeiro and Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainability, Thiago Pampolha is optimistic about the G-20, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro this year. “The G20 agenda has expanded beyond the economic-financial sphere, and the theme of sustainable economic and social development has guided decision-making,” he told the column. “Being at the Center of the World and the stage for an event with the magnitude of the G-20, Rio de Janeiro has good practices to present, such as, for example, the agreement with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, aimed at implementing of a resilient, inclusive, sustainable blue economy, transforming Rio into a Blue Metropolis”, he added.

You changed course and joined the MDB. Was it more difficult to convince governor Cláudio Castro of this decision or the president of Alerj, Rodrigo Bacellar?

I only spoke with Governor Cláudio Castro, to whom I owe loyalty, and I initially had his support in this decision. The MDB is a solid party, with high representation and aligned with my political desire to further integrate and connect the state to the needs of the municipalities.

In the past, the sanitation of Guanabara Bay even received foreign resources and did not advance. What is needed to complete the sanitation of Baixada and, consequently, leave the Bay clean?

Today we can say that cleaning up Guanabara Bay is no longer a failed attempt and is now bringing us tangible results. In August last year, Inea indicated an improvement in the bathing ability of beaches on the Island of Paquetá, Flamengo and Botafogo. As is known, the State Government granted the concession of sanitation services. The initiative has become the largest socio-environmental project in Latin America and the main impacts of the interventions carried out by the companies are: more than 2 thousand tons of waste removed, more than 250 thousand people with running water for the first time, renovation of elevators, kilometers of networks of water implemented, the inauguration of a new Water Treatment Plant, all of this reflecting the commitment to depolluting Guanabara Bay. In the first quarter of last year, 17 ecobarriers were reinstalled at strategic points on rivers that flow into Guanabara Bay. The equipment has the capacity to retain up to 1200 tons per month of floating waste that is incorrectly disposed of in the bay. In one year, the amount retained is equivalent to 20 Olympic swimming pools. After collection, the waste is removed by boats and machines and sent to the Waste Treatment Center to obtain appropriate environmental disposal. Still in the first half of 2023, the State Government delivered the Manguinhos Collecting Trunk. The structure has the capacity to collect 1,293 liters of sewage per second, the equivalent of 44 Olympic-size swimming pools of sewage per day receiving treatment, with a direct positive impact on the water quality of our Bay.

In your effort to increase environmental education in Rio de Janeiro, what needs to be done more urgently now?

I believe that it is always necessary and urgent to expand environmental awareness, increasing our network of engaged and active actors on the agenda. It was with this in mind that we restructured and expanded Ambiente Jovem, the largest environmental education program in the country, which was designed precisely to train agents for transformation and dissemination of sustainability throughout the entire territory of Rio de Janeiro. The idea is that, through workshops, external classes, participation in national and international events and, of course, a lot of hands-on work, we can increasingly encourage adherence to the agenda at home, in the classroom, with family and friends – and it is in this direction that Ambiente Jovem works. It is essential for the sustainable development of Rio de Janeiro and the advancement of our environmental agenda that the population is properly informed and engaged in the agenda, and therefore our daily effort towards environmental education, especially with regard to the younger public , protagonist of this future scenario. Therefore, since 2022, when we launched the program, we have already impacted the lives of more than ten thousand socially vulnerable young people – with more than five thousand students graduating from the first cycle. We currently have more than 4,000 active students, spread across 82 classes from north to south of Rio de Janeiro. Of this number, hundreds of students have obtained a series of opportunities in the job market and higher education, which makes us very proud and gives us certainty that we are on the right path. Our objective now is to continue expanding the program and, in doing so, reach more young people, transform more communities throughout the state and expand our network of actors on behalf of our state.

Rio will host an international event that will bring together leaders from across the planet. Is it possible that the concrete environmental agenda can also be advanced in parallel events?

Without a doubt, because the G20 agenda has expanded beyond the economic-financial sphere, and the theme of sustainable economic and social development has guided decision-making. In this regard, I can say that the State Government has done its “homework” and the Rio 2030 project is an example of an action platform that activates, mobilizes and engages social actors such as public administration, the private sector, academia and civil society. in the development and implementation of solutions relating to the challenges of the 2030 Agenda, creating scalable and replicable models for other cities in the world, starting from the state of Rio de Janeiro. Being at the Center of the World and the stage for an event with the magnitude of the G-20, Rio de Janeiro has good practices to present, such as, for example, the agreement with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), aimed at the implementation of a resilient, inclusive, sustainable blue economy, transforming Rio into a Blue Metropolis; the Inclusive and Sustainable Rio Project, signed between SEAS and the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), with the aim of strengthening urban resilience in cities in Rio de Janeiro, in addition to other programs that prioritize the environmental agenda and sustainable development of the Rio de Janeiro territory.

Deforestation today is a serious Brazilian problem. What does Rio de Janeiro need to advance on this agenda?

Rio de Janeiro has made significant progress in this regard. Last year, Rio had 123 hectares of Atlantic Forest deforested, a number lower than the rate in the first 8 months of 2022, when 367 hectares were deforested. This 66% reduction is higher than the national average, which was 59%. The data are from the Deforestation Alert System (SAD) bulletin. We can say that this result is the result of the Olho no Verde Program, one of the main tools for combating deforestation in the Atlantic Forest. This is forest monitoring via satellite, with coverage over 10 thousand square km of the biome. Based on the detected images, the program issues deforestation alerts, sending this information to inspection teams. In the last seven years, the program has responded to 2,287 deforestation alerts. The project led to more than 1,200 inspection actions, of which more than 70% were confirmed to have suppressed illegal vegetation. Another commitment to the preservation of our biome is the Forest of Tomorrow, the largest reforestation program for the Atlantic Forest in the country, which works to restore 440 thousand hectares of forest by 2050, contributing with 159 million tons of CO2 absorbed by aerial biomass, in addition the potential for absorption by tropical soil and water maintenance in the regions.

Let’s talk about public safety. Militiamen and drug traffickers already dominate territories in the city where the police themselves have difficulty entering. And they grow into institutions supporting and financing politicians. How to prevent the expansion of crime?

Under Governor Cláudio Castro, the State invested R$2 billion in public security. Integration of security and intelligence forces have been the guidelines of this administration. Hence I can mention the restructuring of the Integrated Command and Control Center (CICC) facilities, with the acquisition of equipment and modernization of systems, including the development of cutting-edge software for implementing programs aimed at public safety. Today, the CICC functions as a technology and monitoring hub for the state. There, incidents are monitored in real time, emergency call centers operate, such as 190, Fire Department and Samu, in addition to monitoring portable operational cameras, monitoring of police work by the internal affairs department. To combat criminal organizations, through financial suffocation, the Financial Intelligence and Asset Recovery Committee (Cifra) was created. This committee acts as a pillar in the established task force and is the result of a Technical Cooperation Agreement between the State Government and the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP). It is made up of members of the MJSP, through the National Secretariat of Public Security, Federal Police, Federal Highway Police and state secretariats of Finance and Civil Police, which manages the committee. The Federal Public Ministry (MPF), the Public Ministry of the State of Rio de Janeiro (MPRJ) and the Financial Activities Control Council (Coaf) also make up the task force. Now in January, an agreement was signed with Supervia, Metrô, Barcas and CCR Via Lagos to implement the Military Police facial identification system on public transport. This is another way to combat crime, given the possibility of locating criminals who are fugitives from justice, with outstanding arrest warrants. More than 1,000 video cameras are now part of the transport system, which serves around 1 million users per day. Considering that a large part of the field operational technological apparatus began to become a reality in the second half of 2023, the expectation is that the results will begin to be measured throughout 2024.

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