Fortaleza, Brazil

Photo by Seu Zequinha

Addressing the urban challenge

Breadth of the issue- How are the problem(s) that are being tackled by your initiative affecting citizens/local businesses or a significant component of the local wildlife?

In a context of socio-economic and urban inequality, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, low-income families and children are in an extremely vulnerable situation, lacking access to services and public spaces. Related, there is an emerging distance between children and nature, causing many health problems whilst cities are left with plenty of degraded and stigmatized public spaces, subject to waste disposal, violence and irregular occupation.

The proposed transformation of these lands into low cost and maintenance Urban Micro Parks addresses the problem of uncertainty, disruption, and crisis, by creating spaces in vulnerable areas that promote contact with nature and community life. The local community and related city departments are engaged from the beginning and make use of available resources to bring new uses, recover green spaces and create new opportunities. The maintenance of the spaces is shared between the community and the city, which stimulate governance and good behaviour.

Depth of the issue – How seriously are the problems being tackled by your initiative impacting the life of the citizens/businesses/wildlife concerned?

Fortaleza is characterized by a remarkable socio-economic and urban inequality. More than 143.000 families live in precarious situations of extreme poverty, with children being the most vulnerable group.

In addition to the lack of services and public spaces, there is an emerging distancing between children and nature, with the natural world increasingly not being perceived as essential for childhood. The consequences for children are significant: obesity, hyperactivity, attention deficit, emotional imbalance and low mobility are some of the health problems caused by this context, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In just ten years (2004 to 2014), the natural areas of Fortaleza reduced from 35.6% to 21%, equivalent to 6.42m² of green area per inhabitant, half of WHO’s recommendation. On the other hand, the City of Fortaleza has 389 non-urbanized land, many of which are degraded, subject to waste disposal, urban violence, irregular occupation, among others.

The proposed transformation of these lands into low cost and maintenance Micro Parks addresses the problem of uncertainty, disruption, and crisis, by creating spaces in vulnerable areas that promote contact with nature and community life.