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AVSI at Rio+20: Sustainable city development must serve the person

altGrowing cities are one of main challenges in sustainable development identified for Rio +20. In AVSI’s experience, a sustainable city is only possible if policy is centered around the human person.

Often, when we talk about sustainable cities we talk about utilities, services, transportation, energy or traffic, but we lose track of the protagonist of the story: the person.

The vital role of the person is precisely what emerged in the June 19 side event "The human being: the core of a sustainable city," which traced AVSI’s over 20 years of experience in urban upgrading sector and how the work is still expanding. Panelists highlighted successes and challenges in the history which includes: collaboration with the Brazilian Ministry of Cities to develop a method for social development interventions; collaboration with the city of Maputo, Mozambique, to help develop a slum area by transferring the methodology applied in Brazil to integrate social and infrastructural components; collaboration with CESAL, a Spanish NGO partner of AVSI, to relocate families in at risk areas in Ecuador, together with the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing.

Also present were representatives from the local organization CDM, AVSI’s partner in Brazil, who witnessed the essential role of grassroots organizations to reach individual persons, especially those most vulnerable or marginalized, and help link each to access city services.

A young Brazilian named Bruno brought the conversation from the level of policy or numbers to life, reminding us that a city is made up of persons like you and me, and is sustainable in as much as it is in service of those people. He spoke of how he has been changed and now has real opportunities to work and a desire to build for the future, thanks to services and education provided by AVSI and its partners.

Attending the side event were over a hundred people of different nationalities, representing businesses, varying levels of governments, and other local and international NGOs.

Stilt home in Alagados, Brazil before upgradingNew housing in Alagados, BrazilRead more:

Link to all the presentations through

AVSI Side Event Rio+20 Summary

AVSI Report on Alagados Project

Rio+20 Draft Text “The Future We Want”