Rio de Janeiro


Rio’s informal settlements, also known as favelas, are typically seen as segregated parts of the city, spatial manifestations of urban poverty and intra-urban inequality. The challenges of day-to-day stresses and intermittent shocks are exponentially higher for individuals living in favelas, often lacking formal tenure, with insufficient public space and facilities, inadequate access to municipal services, and noncompliance with planning and building regulations. When it comes to energy use, communities still struggle to secure access to safe and dependable energy. Despite their many setbacks, informal settlements are a reality on the ground and provide housing to over 1.5m citizens. Favela upgrading and community-based urbanisation is the only viable solution, and the challenge lies in converting these settlements to liveable, healthy, and inclusive living environments. 

The energy transition could propel this solution, but any attempt to engage informal settlements with the neutrality agenda will need to be founded on the principles of equity, inclusion and community participation. The City of Rio de Janeiro has ongoing initiatives, e.g., re-blocking informal settlements for a safer public realm with convenient paths for pedestrians and essential community facilities. Recent energy efficiency programmes (appliances and training for consumption reduction) and engagement to reduce non-technical losses (i.e., energy theft) are proving particularly successful. The city counts with strong community engagement and local solutions are being tested on a daily basis: favela Babylon already installed PV capacity of 12kWp in 2 retails and 1 community centre, while Morro de São Carlos favela is currently mapping its solar potential. Housing upgrades can have even further impact, if one considers thermal comfort and overall living conditions in favelas. Beyond climate concerns, the transition is vital for participation, well-being and inclusion.

To be achieved through UP2030

Rio will explore opportunities for the participation of favelas and their communities in the climate neutrality mission through inclusive favela upgrading. The pilot will focus on the Morro de São Carlos favela as a starting point to explore how adequate and affordable housing can be designed and delivered with low full life-cycle carbon, and will assess the feasibility of adapting or transforming existing housing units. In addition, it will assess the current community-based entrepreneurship environment to understand how to leverage projects that are being implemented on the ground to create scale. It will also identify what alternative sources of energy can be installed in informal settlements to ensure an affordable, reliable and sustainable supply. Lastly, UP2030 will identify those parameters of housing and renewable energy provision projects that qualify them for funding from public and private sources (e.g. national funds, international development banks, foreign aid, donors).

Please note that no international organisations receive direct funding, as the transfer demonstrator pilot, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, receives only in-kind support.

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