WRI Brasil is a research institute that transforms big ideas into actions to protect the environment and foster Brazil’s prosperity in an inclusive and sustainable fashion. It is focused on research and applications of sustainable solutions oriented towards climate, forests, and cities. WRI Brasil combines technical excellence with political articulation and works in close collaboration with governments, private companies, universities and civil society.

Annual Report 2018

WRI Brasil 2018 annual report cover

Our Annual Report for 2018 shows how WRI addresses the great opportunity and grave risk that co-exist at this critical moment in history, while recognizing the essential role played by our donors in helping to achieve our over-arching goal of increasing inclusive prosperity and protecting people and planet.

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WRI Brasil works to transform big ideas into concrete results, guaranteeing quality of life and a healthy environment for current and future generations. Outlined below are our actions in benefit of the Climate, Forests and Cities.

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Though many times unseen, climate is an ever-present issue. It often seems detached from our daily lives, when we have more pressing issues to deal. However, in the 21st century, climate is directly linked to economic growth, well-being and the tackling of poverty. WRI Brasil works to support Brazil in mitigating the impacts of climate change on people’s lives, especially in terms of their health and related expenses.

The next 15 years will be crucial in determining the type of social economy and well-being we want for Brazil in a world with new climate and technology patterns. Globally, the investments in infrastructure to be applied during this period will exceed the sum of US$ 90 trillion, determining the outcome of roads, ports, plants and cities in the 21st century. To ensure that national economies continue to grow competitively and sustainably, that societies prosper, and people have jobs, income and quality of life, these investments must consider the need to transition to a low carbon economy, so that countries are no longer dependent on highly pollutant technologies.

A new economy based on sustainable infrastructure and the more efficient and productive use of our lands are the key to steering Brazil towards a low carbon economy. Economic and climate models show that, around the world, the transition to a low carbon economy could generate some US$ 26 trillion by 2030, compared to the traditional model. Brazil could lead this new economy, investing in quality sustainable infrastructure and efficiently using the land and natural resources.

Besides unlocking Brazilian economic growth, the transition to a low carbon emission economy affords unparalleled benefits to the health and quality of life of society. In major cities, a reduction in pollutant emissions improves the quality of the air we breathe, reducing illnesses and extending life expectancy. Estimates show that this new economy could prevent 700,000 premature deaths due to air pollution around the world by 2030. Around 50,000 Brazilian currently die each year due to air pollution related diseases.

The WRI Brasil Climate program helps accelerate this transition and generates scale for a low carbon economy in the country, guaranteeing the well-being of Brazilians. To accelerate this goal, the program is split into three areas of action: Economy and Climate, Air Quality and Governance. The last focuses on mechanisms and tools that can assist governments and the private sector to gauge the success of their efforts towards an economy less dependent on highly pollutant technologies.

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Decisions made today will determine the lives of millions of people over the coming decades. Brazil is already home to an enormous urban population and it can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and – at the same time – guarantee economic development, by promoting cleaner vehicle fuels and technologies, providing incentive for buildings that are more energy efficient, improving the quality of public transport, redesigning urban spaces for people, and adopting a connected, compact and coordinated city model.

Since 2015, the WRI Brasil Cities program has been developing robust studies on the reality in Brazil, proposing solutions to some of the leading urban challenges currently faced, such as sustainable mobility and urban planning. It combines technical excellence with political articulation with the aim of assisting governments, companies, academia and civil society to guarantee sustainable development for Brazilian cities.

The organization supports some 25 Brazilian municipalities in areas such as road safety, the development of mobility plans and projects, accessibility, public transport, travel demand management, urban planning, financing solutions for sustainable infrastructure, tactical urbanism and complete streets, among others.

As a nonpartisan organization, WRI Brasil seeks to contribute so that resources are invested in sustainable urban infrastructure projects that can guarantee the well-being of current and future generations. After all, 70% of all the infrastructure expected to exist in cities around the world by 2050 has yet to be designed and built.

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More than a billion people around the world rely on forests to their livelihoods – whether as a form of work, food, fuel or material needs. In Brazil, a forested country by nature, our trees can generate wealth and employment for our population, with the development of a forestry economy based on wood and non-wood products. Furthermore, trees are vitally important to maintaining a healthy environment, protecting the soil and water and regulating the climate of both the country and the planet.

Despite this potential, Brazil is still home to vast expanses of degraded areas. Estimates are at around 30 million hectares, the equivalent to the area of Poland. These areas are largely unproductive and offer low agricultural value, thus failing to perform either a productive or ecological role.

Landscape restoration and reforestation can recover degraded areas, making them productive and generating environmental services through the recovery of their ecological functions. Restored areas benefit farmers through diversification of food production, wood production, as well as fruits, seeds and pharmaceutical inputs, increasing resilience and promoting a sustainable economy around forests. Restored areas help preserve water sources, protecting the soil, renewing air and sequestering carbon, thereby mitigating climate changes and reducing risks in food production. Additionally, they play an important role as natural infrastructure: planting and conserving forests helps to improve water quality and reduces the risk of flooding and landslides in cities.

The WRI Brasil Forests program generates and disseminates expertise and tools, promoting articulation and engagement among actors interested in landscape restoration, contributing to improved public policies, the mobilization of public and private resources, coupled with monitoring of results to scale up forest restoration and reduce the risk of deforestation. Through this effort, WRI Brasil hopes to create conditions for the efficient use of Brazilian land, combining the preservation and maintenance of environmental services with the development of a vibrant economy of forest-related products and low carbon agriculture.

Some of the program’s areas of operation include:

  • The development of a new forestry economy through ecological restoration, silviculture with native species and agroforestry systems;
  • The identification of opportunities for restoring forest landscapes and cost-benefit analyses for interventions;
  • The use of natural infrastructure to supply water in major cities;
  • The promotion of gender equality and adapting to climate change;
  • The development of monitoring systems to assess the results of restoration and conservation projects and initiatives;
  • The implementation of demonstration units to convince farmers of the benefits of restoration and conservation;
  • The mobilization of cities around the conservation and restoration of forests; and
  • The implementation of participatory diagnoses to identify opportunities for restoration and social mapping of landscapes.

These areas are focused on helping Brazil to fulfill its restoration commitments, especially its NDC goal as part of the Paris Agreement. It hopes to restore 12 million hectares by 2030, fulfilling the Forest Code, while simultaneously creating opportunities for jobs and income in the rural area by means of the restoration and reforestation chain. To generate scale and meet this goal, WRI Brasil works in partnership with companies, government agencies and farmers, and acts in coalitions such as the Atlantic Forest Restoration Compact, the Brazil Climate, Forests and Agriculture Coalition, and Initiative 20x20.