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Moving around the metropolis in recent weeks, this blogger noted three certainties that will attend the future, regardless of who is elected or how much the budget is:
1) Rio is and can be a better place. Obvious– but it wasn’t up to 2009, when we began a brief turnaround, after 40 years of decadence. There’s new life in the city. Complaints are heard about the Olympic legacy, transportation. We have yet to see the real impact of the Metro extension, 4 BRTs (dedicated articulated bus lanes), the VLT trams, the Joá elevated highway expansion, SuperVia train improvements, the bus rationalization, the elevated Perimetral demolition and the tunnels that replaced it.
Even for those who appreciate none of this or think it falls short, the idea itself of a turnaround is new in Rio. No more shrugging off problems.
2) Public policy, particularly in regard to transportation, environment and public safety, demand a metropolitan approach. No longer can officials turn their backs on responsibilities because they belong to another level of government. Leadership will be necessary, collaboration too. Society will pressure those who don’t get this. The new Câmara de Integração Metropolitana (Metropolitan Integration Chamber) created by order of the Supreme Court, will guide this new phase.
3) Public policies will have to be custom-made for each territory in the metropolis. Before, the complexity of neighborhoods and favelas were a barrier to public policymakers, strengthening the simplicity of welfarism.
Today, with more precise and useful data now available, the ability to crowdsource local information and the growing complexity and richness of social media, across-the-board public policies are no longer acceptable. In addition, highly-connected citizens, especially youth, are ever more likely to engage in dialogue with politicians and public servants.
In the last decade in Rio de Janeiro we’ve had joy and disappointment. Nothing was as easy as we thought it would be. Lucky for us, learning comes of experience, with lessons that can contribute to the greater good in coming years.