About the City of Rio de Janeiro

Location


Federative Republic of Brazil (22°54′30″S 43°11′47″W)

Population


11.96 million – metropolitan region (2011)1

Social composition


 

Rio de Janeiro is home to an ethnically diverse population, including significant groups with European, Amerindian and West African ancestry. The city grew rapidly during the twentieth century with international and internal migration. Rio is the second economic centre of Brazil after Sao Paulo and GDP per capita is significantly higher than the national average. The city is characterised by extremes in wealth and poverty with rich and poor living side by side.

GDP/capita: US$16,282 (2012)2

  Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are often built on steep hillsides with poor infrastructure and are vulnerable to flooding and landslides
from heavy rain events that are predicted to increase with climate change. 

Geographical features


Situated on Brazil’s Atlantic coast, the core of the city is on flat land around the Western shore of Guanabara Bay. The South Zone (Zona Sul) is built around beaches and separated from the north by the densely forested Tijuca mountain range, with peaks reaching 1000m above sea level. The more recently urbanised Western Zone is located on beaches and surrounding coastal lagoons. Much of the flat land of the city is built around former coastal marshes, lagoons and estuaries.

Climatic conditions


Tropical savannah climate (according to Koppen climate classification).
Mean daily maximum temperatures vary from 25o C (June/July) to 30 o C (February).
Average annual rainfall is 1,170mm. Rainfall is heaviest during the summer between December and April.

 

Hazards & Vulnerabilities

Local climate hazards


                     

Local vulnerabilities and main expected climate change impact


Surface flooding in low-lying areas and landslides on hilly terrain are expected to increase with predictions of more heavy rainfall events3.  Major flood events in 1967, 1988 and 2010 illustrate the potential for significant impacts, with 200-300 deaths attributed to each event and up to 20,000 people left homeless. The city’s topography and climate combine with socio-economic factors and spatial patterns of urban development to exacerbate vulnerability to floods and landslides. The poorest populations live in informal favelas, often built on steep hillsides. The stripping of hillside forest cover, poor building practices, inadequate drainage infrastructure and unregulated development contribute to increased vulnerability4.
Storm events combined with predicted sea-level rise are likely to exacerbate coastal erosion, tidal flooding and contribute to drainage problems in low-lying areas of the city5.
Predicted increases in precipitation extremes may cause more droughts with the city vulnerable to water supply restrictions and electricity supply limitations from hydro-based generation6.
Increased extremes of high temperatures may combine with heat island effects and local air pollution to cause increased health problems.

 

Coping Mechanisms/ Adaptation measures

What is done on a political level? Adaptation plan?


The City of Rio de Janeiro’s climate change policy released in 2011 includes both adaptation and mitigation measures. A key adaptation initiative has involved mapping vulnerability to climate change threats.
The State of Rio de Janeiro has a 15,000 member civil defence team to cope with emergency events. An integrated central control system based on advanced information technology has recently been developed by the City to optimise responses to emergency events. 

What adaptation measure is in place (physically)?


Central and local government have invested significantly in improving basic infrastructure and social conditions in the favelas – some of the most vulnerable areas to flooding and landslide risks8.
Recent increased regulation and zoning of favela areas has worked to slow deforestation and expansion of informal settlements on hillsides.
Little physical flood protection infrastructure has been built9.

What are the major adaptation needs


  • Improving socio-economic conditions and infrastructure within vulnerable favela areas.
  • Improving flood management infrastructure.
  • Improving water supply security.
  • Improving sanitation and sewage disposal systems.

 

Notes


1Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (2011) World Population Prospects:
  The 2010 Revision and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision.

2Brookings Institution (2012) ‘Global Metro Monitor’, Brookings analysis of data from Oxford Economics, Moody’s Analytics,
   and the U.S. Census Bureau http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/global-metro-monitor-3

3De Sherbinin, Alex, Andrew Schiller and Alex Pulsipher (2007) ‘The vulnerability of global cities to climate hazards’,
   Environment and Urbanization, Vol 19(1): 39–64.

4De Sherbinin, Alex and Hogan, Daniel J. (2011) ‘Climate-proofing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’ in  Blake, R., A. Grimm, T. Ichinose, R. Horton, S. Gaffi n, S. Jiong,
  D. Bader, L. D. Cecil, ‘Urban climate:
  Processes, trends, and projections’. Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, C. Rosenzweig,
  W. D. Solecki, S. A.
Hammer, S. Mehrotra, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 43–81.

5Ferraz Young, Andrea (2011) ‘Climate risk and sea-level rise in Rio de Janeiro: an integrated case study’ in Pelling, Mark (ed.) Megacities and the Coast:
  Transformation for resilience, International Geosphere/ Biosphere Programme/ LOICZ/  Kings College London.

6De Sherbinin, Alex, Andrew Schiller and Alex Pulsipher (2007) ‘The vulnerability of global cities to climate hazards’,
   Environment and Urbanization, Vol 19(1):
39–64.

7City of Rio de Janeiro (2013) ‘Climate Change and Sustainable Development’. Retrieved April 2013 from:
  http://www.rio.rj.gov.br/web/smac/exibeconteudo?article-id=148024

 8De Sherbinin, Alex and Hogan, Daniel J. (2011) ‘Climate-proofing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’ in  Blake, R., A. Grimm, T. Ichinose, R. Horton, S. Gaffi n, S. Jiong,
   D. Bader, L. D. Cecil, ‘Urban climate: Processes, trends, and projections’. Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change
   Research Network, C. Rosenzweig, W. D. Solecki, S. A. Hammer, S. Mehrotra, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 43–81.

 9De Sherbinin, Alex, Andrew Schiller and Alex Pulsipher (2007) ‘The vulnerability of global cities to climate hazards’,
   Environment and Urbanization, Vol 19(1): 39–64.

  


Europe The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 308497
Project RAMSES - Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities.