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The Untold Secret of Curitiba

In-House Technical Capacity for
Sustainable Environmental Planning

by Tim Campbell, PhD

Urban Age Institute

This paper is written in support of an initiative into the concept of

urban sustainability being carried out by the National Academy of Sci-
ences, the University of California at Berkeley, the Healthy Communi-
ties Foundation, and the Urban Age Institute. The initiative aims to
develop tools and methods to achieve sustainable cities. Companion
pieces to this paper, “Learning Cities: Acquiring Knowledge, Intel-
ligence, and Identity in Complex Systems” (Campbell 2006) and “Les-
sons from Pittsburgh’s Water and Sewerage Crisis” (Feller and Feller
2006) are published separately by the Urban Age Institute.

The author wishes to acknowledge the support of the Gordon and Betty
Moore Foundation for this work. The author is grateful also for the as-
sistance of Gordon Feller and Yuan Xiao of the Urban Age Institute.

Urban Age Institutue

870 Estancia, 4th floor
San Rafael, Calfironia 94903 - USA
tel: +1-4154914233
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05 Executive Summary

06 Introduction

07 Founding Moments: Responding to Growth Pressures

12 Mechanisms of Success in Sustainability: Channeling Advice to the City

12 1. Establishing Rudiments of Urban Form: 1967-1972

13 2. Structuring the Transport System: 1972-1983

16 3. From Broad Strategy to Contraction:

Inflation and Social Issue 1983-1989

18 4. Revival and New Powers. Surface Metro and Consolidation

of the Social Sector; 1989-1994

23 Conclusions: Factors in the Feasibility of an Urban Think Tank

23 1. Origins

25 2. Internal and External Factors

26 Annex: Time Line of IPPUC

27 Bibliography

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


Executive Summary

Secondary cities are emerging as critical players in the quest for urban
development that is sustainable, that improves the lives of residents
without compromising the prospects for future residents. In Curitiba,
Brazil ,the Institute of Research and Urban Planning (Instituto da
Pesquisas and Planejamento Urbano da Curitiba) has helped the city
innovate in such areas as transport, solid waste, land use, environmen-
tal quality, and social programs. IPPUC is a dedicated agency with a
tight mandate focused on planning and implementation of sustainable
development. This paper, prepared in tandem with “Learning Cities: Acquiring Knowledge,
Intelligence, and Identity in Complex Systems” (Campbell 2006), examines in detail the case of
a central think tank that has provided strategic inputs in technical and policy judgment to city
leadership for more than 30 years. Though receptiveness to its work has varied over successive
political administrations, these inputs have been a key factor in the many successful
innovations of the city.

The secret to success in this planning arrangement include the following:

• An institutional capability to offer high level technical and analytical
inputs to the city
• Long term continuity in the mandate and organizational arrangements
• Independence in function and autonomy in internal management
(including personnel and salaries)
• Presence of foreign staff and national staff who were widely traveled
• International financial support for projects
• Close relationship between successive elected officials and their connections
with higher levels of government.
• Continuous interplay between participation of the public in the
implementation of plans

The innovations have been bolstered by continued political support across municipal
administrations and by the positive effects of Curitiba’s relations with the state and central
governments as well as with other cities.

Curitiba’s many innovations evolved in mutually reinforcing ways. For instance, the public
transit and road system helped both to increase transit flow and to provide an organizing
framework for integrated land use planning. The public transport system in turn relies on
buses and public-private partnership that shares risk and reward.

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These innovations have resulted in tangible economic and environmental benefits for Curitiba.
Although there are more than 500,000 private cars in a city of 1.6 million people, three
quarters of commuters take the bus. Affordable fares mean that the average low-income family
spends only about 10 percent of its income on transport, which is low for Brazil. The efficient
system improves productivity by speeding the movement of people, goods, and services.
In terms of environmental benefits, the city has achieved a 25 percent reduction in fuel
consumption with related reductions in automotive emissions. The transport system is directly
responsible for the city having one of the lowest rates of ambient air pollution in Brazil.


Around 4000 cities around the globe have reached the population range of 100,000 or more
in size. They are also expanding in territorial terms. In addition, more than 70 countries are
decentralizing at a time when globalization of trade is transforming the role of cities and
states. These demographic and political phenomena prompt renewed attention to a quest
for environmental balance and sustainability. It is timely and prudent to adopt a local rather
national perspective

How does urban institutional “tissue” get formed, achieve a self-conscious identity, become
accepted as valuable and endorsed by the broad community, and take on the policy and
practical tasks of achieving sustainable development? A previous paper (Campbell 2006)
reviews a decade of research and analytical work in academic and development agencies on
the importance of learning modalities – for firms, university researchers, venture capitalists,
innovators, regions, and cities – and presents a rough typology of learning cities.

The organizing principle of that typology is the focus held by the learning agent (whether a
firm, a city or a region). Agents can be tightly focused on the business of a city, as in the case
of Curitiba, Brazil, or loosely interested but available, as are some universities in cities. At the
other extreme, a municipality may have no dedicated agency and indeed no long term strategy
or program. Rather, like most of the local governments around the world, the city takes part in
catch-as-catch-can opportunities to acquire skills in specific sectors of interest whenever they
might be presented.

The long tenure and multi-sectoral nature of the Curitiba case provides an example of a city
technical agency focused on city development. As with the cases explored in the “Learning
Cities” paper (Campbell 2006), IPPUC in Curitiba shows how dedicated attention can build a
shared vision over time and create self-aware organizations.

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


Founding Moments: Responding to Growth Pressures

Capital of the state of Parana and neighbor to Sao Paulo in south central Brazil, Curitiba has
1.6 million inhabitants in the city itself, 2.3 million in the metropolitan area, From the 1950s
to the 1970s, it was Brazil’s fastest growing city. Beginning the 1940s with the collapse of
coffee prices, mechanization in agriculture, and de-industrialization in neighboring industrial
powerhouse of Sao Paulo, strong migratory pushed the growth of Curitiba to rates of over 7
percent during some decades between 1950s and 1980s.

Curitiba’s position as the state’s capital and center of services, together with its central geo-
graphical location – linking agricultural production areas in the West to the main port on the
Atlantic coast – helped to fuel the city’s growth, from 140,000 inhabitants in 1940 to 180,000
in 1950, and 360,000 by the 1960s. According to Lowry, in 1961 nearly 70 percent of the state’s
population lived in rural areas, and by 1991 nearly 75 percent of the population lived in urban
places (Lowry 2002).

Rapid growth brought problems and environmental challenges typical of many cities in Latin
America during its period of high rural to urban migration. The city suffered from excessive
spillovers in contaminants and congestion on the one hand, and on the other, shortage of
facilities, infrastructure, and services. Incoming populations began to settle in floodplains
surrounding the city, resulting in recurring losses of property and life.

The political context during this period was an important factor in shaping options for cities.
Just as Curitiba was about to give birth to a master plan and to conceive IPPUC, Brazil was
entering a military dictatorship (1964 to 1979). Under military rule, cities were expected to
follow the dictates of central government irrespective of local sentiment. Cities were financially
dependent on the state and federal governments, making them vulnerable to changing
macro¬economic and political conditions. Cities had very little autonomy to launch initiatives
or follow independently establish their own priorities. Second, at the outset of the era, the mass
media was under censorship, and public participation was minimal throughout the country.
Participation came to be a hallmark of Curitiba’s planning style, yet it was frowned upon in the
early years of the dictatorship. Public involvement would gradually increase (after 1979), but
participatory planning of the kind practiced in many cities today was not possible in Curitiba
in the 1960s.

Third, the military government gradually replaced import substitution policies with inflows of
foreign capital and major infrastructure projects, including an increase in urban investment.
Most Brazilian cities took advantage of that investment to build motorways and viaducts, thus
establishing the predominance of the private car. Curitiba, however, developed an alternative
course of action.

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Planning Process: the Agache Plan

The course Curitiba chose was begun two decades earlier in the 1940s with the Agache Plan,
the first formal attempt to respond to urban growth in Curitiba. The Agache Plan, named after
French urban planner Alfred Agache in 1943, proposed a well-defined central area surrounded
by residential zones, with a traffic system composed of concentric (ring) roads linked to the
central area by radial avenues – the spoke-
Towards the end of the 1940s into the mid 1950s there began a note-
worthy transformation in Curitiba with the implementation of the Prelimi- and-wheel design. This design reflected a
nary Urban Plan. At this time, Architect and City Planner Alfredo Agache, classic planning concept. But planners failed
the co-founder of the French Society of Urban Studies, wanted to intro-
to predict the powerful impact that the
duce a new standard of urban space design. Agache was commissioned to
create an urban plan for Curitiba and designed a development scheme boom in private automobiles would have on
that gave priority to public services such as sanitation, easing traffic city growth during the 1950s. However, the
congestion and creating centers that enabled the growth of both social
plan did foresee the need for transit rights of
life and commerce. After two years of preparation, economic setbacks
curtailed the full implementation of the plan. However, initial parts of his way, and fortunately for the city, some of the
plan that include large avenues, an obligatory setback of five meters from radial avenues were built and rights of way
the curb as a buffer zone for new buildings, an industrial district, the civic
preserved. Though the city subsequently
center and the municipal market remain. While the Agache Plan was not
constructed completely, from its inception it is evident that city planners grew beyond the physical limits envisaged
in Curitiba were willing to develop the city in accordance with his vision. by the Agache Plan, the rough outline for
Santoro (2001)
access to the periphery were put in place.

In the 1960s when the pressures of growth were being felt acutely in the city, Mayor Ivo Aruza
Prereira commissioned a new urban plan for the city adapted to modern needs. In his words:
“One of the sharpest needs felt by the population was a revision of the Agache plan, not
because it had defects, but because (with the growth of the city and state interference) it… had
become obsolete.” (IPPUC website, 2005).

In addition to the basic radial These central tenets of the Curitiba Master
pattern, a key legacy of the
Plan laid the groundwork for a range of
Agache Plan the perception
that planning could help transport innovations, among them that
solve urban growth-related commerce, services, and residences should
problems. This perception expand in a linear manner from the city
was acted upon in 1964
center along “structural axes.”
when the city government
organized a competition for the preparation of the
“Preliminary Urban Plan,” which later became the Curitiba Master Plan.

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


Curitiba Master Plan.

Curitiba’s preliminary urban plan was developed in 1964 by SERETE (Society of Studies and
Projects), and Jorge Wilheim-Associated Architects, with the collaboration of local techni-
cians. Among these technicians were Lubomir Ficinski and Jaime Lerner, key figures whose
vision of planning was to endure for three decades in Curitiba. Within a year, a series of public
debates and seminars were organized in partnership with the mayor’s office and civil society
on the topic of “Curitiba Tomorrow.” These events brought the plan into public debate: its
objectives of open and transparent planning engaged the local population.

The general approach of the new plan was to improve the quality of life in the city, and in
particular, to create an integrated transport system coordinated with land use. These ideas were
designed to reduce congestion and preserve the traditional center of the city, to contain the
growth of the city within its physical and territorial limits, and to create supportive economic
conditions for urban development in the city.

These central tenets of the Curitiba Master Plan laid the groundwork for a range of transport
innovations, among them that commerce, services, and residences should expand in a linear
manner from the city center along “structural axes.” The plan laid out guidelines to:

1. Change the radial urban growth trend to a linear one by integrating the road
network, transport, and land use,
2. Decongest the central business district while preserving its historic center,
3. Manage, not prevent, population growth,
4. Provide economic support to urban development, and
5. Support greater mobility by improving infrastructure.

Profile and Governance of IPPUC.

Created in 1965 to implement the Master Plan, IPPUC was founded as a municipal autarchy,
giving it certain administrative and functional independence (as per Law 2660, of December
1st, 1965, and regulated by Decree 19l0, of December 7, 1965).

In the formation of IPPUC, then mayor Ivo Arzua, believing that a mere advisory office would
not be sufficient to lead the reforms foreseen in the Plan, made sure the new agency had
specific duties related to implementation of the plan. He sought, and obtained the support of
the association of architects, commercial associations and other interested groups.1

Among the many supporters contracted were Jaime Lerner, Luis
Fortes Neto, Joel Ramalho, José Gandolfi, who were later absorbed
by City Hall.

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The Institute was governed by a Board of Directors, a Deliberative Council, chaired by the
mayor, and a President. The Board was composed mainly of the directors of departments in
city hall, city council representatives (2), and the Institute’s president, an appointment of the
mayor. At the heart of IPPUC were three technical departments (“superintendencias”), one in
planning, another for project execution, and a third for urban research. In addition, support
structures, including administration and finance, handled the internal mechanisms of the
institution’s operation. A Center of Data Processing (CPD), was in charge of processing the
data needed for municipal planning and administration.

Broad membership of political leaders and technical professionals on the Board and Council
favored approval of IPPUC’s policies. The Deliberative Council was empowered to propose
laws on matters that were important but not considered in the master plan, such as land
density regulations and fiscal mechanisms. In addition, the Council supervised the work of
IPPUC in implementing the plan. The Institute was created with its own pay roll, separated
from the pay roll of the municipal government. IPPUC expenses were approved by the board.
These features of personnel and legal status made it possible to escape the deadening impact
often seen in quasi-public agencies in Latin American cities.

With its independence, it was possible for IPPUC to both attract and contract professionals,
including foreign experts. According to Santoro (2001), experts from Brazil and abroad
enriched the original proposals foreseen in the Plan. Within a few years of its founding, more
than 60 technicians were working in IPPUC. Among them there were architects, engineers,
lawyers, sociologists, and educators. They were Polish, Chilean, Argentine, Bolivian, French, all
of them well traveled and for the most part hired on a competitive basis.

The Institute’s duties, according to Law 2660, of December 1st, 1965, were:
1. to elaborate and direct to the Executive branch a bill establishing
Curitiba’s Urban Plan;
2. to promote studies and research of an integrated plan for the development
of the municipality of Curitiba;
3. to judge bills and administrative measures that could impact the
municipality’s development in all of its aspects;
4. to create conditions for implementation and continuity, which would
allow a constant adaptation of sectoral and global plans to the dynamics
of municipal development;
5. to make the local plan compatible to regional or state plan guidelines.

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


IPPUC’s first bylaws, approved by Decree 1910/65, added other duties, such as :
6. preparation of studies aiming at the improve adaptation of municipal
works to the Municipal Master Guiding Plan tax or administrative
restrictions and incentives needed for the implementation of the Master
Plan, and exploring the feasibility of sectoral programs;
7. the promotion of agreements with technical entities and universities for
the training of professionals;
8. offering internships to university students; and
9. the execution of other activities linked to urban development.

In 1966. Curitiba’s city council approved the City’s master plan prepared by IPPUC and in
October of the following year, an agreement was ratified between the State of Paraná’s govern-
ment and ten municipalities that were part of Curitiba’s metropolitan region. This resulted in
the creation of the Metropolitan Council, of which IPPUC was a part, and which considered
development issues over the entire urbanized region of greater Curitiba. IPPUC’s participation
in this agreement allowed it prepare technical studies and program works related to integrated
regional planning, in addition to coordinating works, projects, services, and activities of
interest to the whole region. With a simple organizational structure, IPPUC was able to
develop proposals and projects without problems of partisan political interference.

Thus, by the end of 1967, Curitiba had created an agency not only engaged in the mechanics
of urban growth but also able to take initiative on issues and practices that could affect the
sustainability of development over a wide area. Directly linked to the mayor’s office with a
status above municipal departments (“Secretários do Município”), IPPUC was capable of
following and studying as well as providing for the implementation through project
contracting of all of the major elements in the city’s growth process. Though not conceived
as an institution dedicated to sustainability, IPPUC had in its founding terms of reference
all the elements the institution needed to achieve sustainability (Oliveira 2001).

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Mechanisms of Success in Sustainability:

Channeling Advice to the City

Though it moved through various phases – at first active, then quiet in the face of public
reaction, then active again – IPPUC created a long record of contributions to various aspects
of urban development in the city. Santoro (2001) and Oliveira (2001) see the early years in
several distinct phases. An initial period that Oliveira calls “institutionalization” (1962-1966,
see above) was followed by an incubation period (1965–70), at which time conflicts arose
over vision and strategy of projects conceived by IPPUC on the one hand, and on the other,
those developed by the municipal administration. During this period, in Oliveria’s words,
IPPUC was “in the icebox,” its actions and activity on hold (Oliveria 2001: 99). During this
period, IPPUC developed projects under its director Jaime Lerner. Beginning in 1970 with the
appointment of Lerner as mayor, IPPUC launched its first important phase of implementation.

Succeeding sections of this paper discuss four key phases in which IPPUC was active in the
decades following its founding. The rough chronological order follows the evolution of
thinking and trial and error concerning land use, transport, and social and environmental
issues in Curitiba. Each section illustrates a modality of action and innovative solutions to
problems that are common in fast-growing cities.

1. Establishing Rudiments of Urban Form: 1967-1972

The use of land and a special program for vehicles and pedestrian circulation became the focus
of attention under Mayors Ivo Arzua and Jaime Lerner, with engineers José Portella and Cássio
Tanigushi directing the Institute, respectively. IPPUC began to plan radical changes for the
city. The key features of restructuring would be linear access routes radiating out from the city
along which new residential and commercial establishments would be directed with the help of
land use controls, zoning measures, and building regulations.

One of the most difficult, but seminal proposals advanced by IPPUC was a large sidewalk mall
in the middle of downtown, later to become Flower Street. The idea was to keep the block free
from automobiles and reserved for pedestrians. Though common now, the idea of a pedestrian
mall in the city center was unheard of in Brazil at that time. Initially, the IPPUC proposal
aroused stiff opposition from commercial businesses in the city center, which felt that their
success depended upon access by and parking spaces for private automobiles. In contrast, IP-
PUC and Lerner felt that the first step in gaining control over the automobile was the creation
of a downtown pedestrian mall.

Many meetings were required with the chamber of commerce and others before the technical
arguments of IPPUC could persuade the chamber of commerce and others that the proposed

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


closing of downtown streets made sense. The first element of the argument was that Flower
Street was not to be an isolated project, but rather was part of a larger scheme to manage traffic
flows in and out of the city. The IPPUC plan would divert traffic flow to parallel streets. Later
on, one-way parallel routes were created for the traffic flows crossing Curitiba’s
traditional downtown.

In fact, according to Santoro, the transportation plan created “too many lanes for the circula-
tion at that time” (Santoro 2001). “Fast routes” ran from neighborhoods to downtown, greatly
facilitating access to the downtown area. Busses were given
dedicated lanes; small curbs were built to help ward off
intruding automobile traffic. Running parallel to them were
single lanes that functioned as access ways for neighborhood
traffic. Though the ideas were not complicated technically,
developing the understanding and achieving consensus took
IPPUC and the administration three years for the plan to
become reality.

Along with the technical innovations of IPPUC came a publicity campaign to educate the
population about the need to use the public transportation system more often and to explain
the emerging patterns of land use for commercial and real estate along the access into the city.
IPPUC thus undertook to become its own advocate, taking part in, even defining, the terms of
the public debate in the city.

With these main components of the traffic management plan, the rudimentary elements of
Latin America’s first rapid bus transit system were put in place. The dominance of the auto-
mobile was about to be broken in Curitiba. More important, a platform was established that
enable much more elaborate and larger scale systems to be put in place in the following years.

2. Structuring the Transport System: 1972-1983

The next phase of development in IPPUC and the city of Curitiba is marked by three factors.
The first is the appointment, by the governor, of two technicians as mayors—Jaime Lerner
and Saul Ruiz—both of whom were familiar with and relied
upon the planning, urban development, and expertise in
implementation of IPPUC. Both retained the same director,
Lubomir Ficinski. This continuity of thought and personnel
helped to build out the land use and transportation system in

The remaining factors helping to define this phase originated outside Curitiba. In 1973, the oil
crisis brought a doubling of gasoline prices. The price shocks for Curitiba helped to strengthen

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the conviction of the city leadership to support extensive public transportation for efficiency
and equity reasons. IPPUC would play a key role in meeting this challenge. Not long afterward
(1975), Curitiba felt the effects of the second exogenous influence: the city became one of the
beneficiaries of proceeds from a World Bank loan to improve public transit in cities of Brazil.
Again IPPUC was called upon to play a critical role.

These circumstances – new and experienced leadership together with new pressures and new
resources – contributed to deepening and strengthening the land and transport achievements
of the previous period. In particular, the second phase brought:

• Conscientious integration of land use planning with density gradients

matching road design and public transport,
• Joint public-private operation,
• Capacity-expanding measures (special buses, new connecting routes), and
• Emphasis on equity and affordability (measures to keep costs down and
ensure high-quality service to the poor and to the less-populated
areas of the city).

Integration of land use and public transport. IPPUC technicians began to develop a road
scheme that took advantage of the basic premise of integrated road and land use. An express
route for exclusive use of busses ran north and south forming the central axis between the “fast
lanes” already developed. With 30 meter widths, the lanes provided ample volume for through
traffic. At the same time, pedestrian and slower traffic was accommodated on parallel strips.

At the same time, a new land use plan was approved. It established building regulations that
permitted construction of up to 22 times the areal size of the land between the “fast routes.”
The master plan required that buildings facing streets of
DEDICATED BUS LINE public transportation have a fixed percentage of their areas
ONE-WAY STREET dedicated to commercial establishments. Streets crossing fast
lines, construction was allowed up to 12 times the area of the
land; with five meter setbacks. In this way a pyramid of land
use density was being formed. With trial and error, IPPUC
and other technicians determined that it was desirable to
increase the density of built-up areas even further (Rabino-
vitch and Letimann, 1996; Santoro and Leitmann, 2004)

Other initiatives addressed parking and created a beltway around the city center to relieve
pressure from traffic cutting through the downtown center merely to get to the other
side of town.

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


These home-grown solutions began to attract the attention of the state and federal govern-
ments, and this exposure enhanced the role and legitimacy given to IPPUC. A short time later,
Curitiba received US$54 million as a part of
proceeds from a World Bank loan. IPPUC
was made the supervising agency for the
money and was responsible for the presenta-
tion of projects to the federal transport
authorities (EBTU). In the years that
immediately followed, these proceeds allowed
IPPUC and the city to accelerate projects
that had already been started—for instance
in road paving, public lighting, and transport
terminals. As a consequence, Curitiba sprang
forward relative to its own timetable and
relative to other cities taking part in the
EBTU World Bank urban transport project.
In effect, IPPUC’s presence appeared to prove
the value of the internal think tank..

With each expansion and improvement, it

became possible to build on a new platform
of innovations, in signaling, busses, and
tariffs. IPPUC was instrumental in creating
a traffic control center and planning and
constructing more neighborhood terminals.
With the help of foreign technicians, IPPUC’s
technical department created a traffic control
center, an electronically coordinated signaling
system that transformed traffic lights into “green waves,” conveying speedier traffic flow. With
the help of TV cameras and electronic scanners installed in the roadway at strategic places in
the main intersections in town, computerized control allowed automatic traffic counting and
regulation of traffic lights for special periods during the day.

One of the most important innovations was in bus fares. Partly due to the pressure of the oil
crisis, IPPUC began work on a unified tariff scheme for public transport. In 1979, a system
of single tariffs was established across the city, the Integrated Transportation Network (RIT).
This innovation made it possible for operators of small bus lines, including feeder and transfer
lines on the periphery where little money could be made, to stay in service. A cross-subsidy
built into the integrated transportation network favored operators on smaller and less popular
routes, while larger ones running bus routes in the more lucrative downtown areas could
still turn a profit.

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Details of transport planning in IPPUC.

For more than 20 years, (1966 to 1988) transportation planning was handled in the Superin-
tendency of Planning in IPPUC. For most of this period, the overall objective was the planning
of the public transit system, from large scale
Coordinating and Managing Public Works.
In March 1977 the municipality signed an agreement that drew conception to routes, connections, and
upon IPPUC’s comparative advantage in data gathering and man- schedules. After land use, these detailed
agement to improve coordination of public works and services.
planning tasks were among the most
IPPUC’s Data Processing Center together with other units devel-
oped a management system of public works on roads. Later they important of the analytical (as opposed to
began to compile an urban infrastructure information system. The works supervision) functions in IPPUC. The
management and information systems were intended to increase
Municipal transit company (URBS) was re-
the efficiency of the supervision process, improve production of
reports, and streamline evaluation of contractors and cadastre sponsible for regulatory issues and inspected
information by tracking subterranean networks of water pipes, all facets of the system. Bus service itself
drainage and sewerage lines, underground wires, gas lines and
was provided by nine companies. In the
other infrastructure. IPPUC created and maintained an up-to-date
data-base of urban spaces. With the introduction of computers, beginning, even the location of stops as well
IPPUC could authorize works almost immediately and inform as the extensions of routes proposed by the
contractors and state agencies about the subterranean networks
users was planned in the Superintendency
existing in the section, thus avoiding accidental destruction and
breakdowns. The data base grew to include bus routes in service, of Planning, which with the advent of the
open markets, schools, parking lots, gas stations and hospitals. integrated transport network in 1978, also
took over the functions of tariff calculation.

3. From Broad Strategy to Contraction: Inflation and Social Issues 1983-1989

Beginning in the 1980s, Brazil was about to encounter two new and powerful currents of
change. First, a protracted period of hyperinflation drove the cost of living up by thousands
of percentage points per annum.
Brazil’s macro economic perfor- Brazil was entering a period of political
mance, and particularly its efforts and administrative decentralization, in
to control inflation, became which a new constitution and other
all-consuming effort through
reforms were to bring about popular
the decade. Second, Brazil was
entering a period of political and election of mayors
administrative decentralization,
in which a new constitution and reforms of the state were to bring about popular election of
mayors and new powers and prerogatives in planning, spending, and management for all of
Brazil’s local governments. The first elections in this new regime were held in 1983.

Despite the success of the city during the previous decades in managing growth and imple-
menting many innovations, particularly in transport, the city elected two consecutive populist
governments that took charge of the municipality through 1988. According to Santoro, this
was a period marked by strong partisan political influences, and IPPUC, being identified with
partisan influences not favored in the election, began to assume a protective stance. Partly as

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


an adaptive strategy, IPPUC shifted from its previous character of broad strategic view and
strong technical profile. In keeping with the newly elected leadership of the city, IPPUC began
to explore innovative ways to address social
Social Innovations
IPPUC analysts were involved directly and indirectly in the cre- issues. The rationale was to find ways to
ation of numerous innovations to solve typical urban problems. alleviate some of the harshest impacts of
Besides the “Trash that isn’t Trash” program, several others
inflation on the poor.
programs helped to solve the problems of congestion and choking
of downtown streets by street vendors. Others addressed issues
of transport tokens and transportation for the handicapped. Under mayors Maurício Fruet and Roberto
Requião, the Institute’s operational structure
• Street Vendors. The problem of street vendors was at its peak in
the mid 1980s. IPPUC participated in the organization of these turned away from strategic planning and
small-scale (often called “informal sector”) merchants into concentrated on more detailed technical
an association, in which 600 people were registered. A visual
services in order to address and solve the
communication program was launched to support a project
to design and build 600 metal carts. These were attractively city’s problems. The larger structural and
painted and covered with small awnings and placed in regu- visionary ideas of IPPUC began to be
lated parking lots in 200 corners in the downtown area. The
ignored. Furthermore, IPPUC was down-
carts were leased at low rates to the vendors, who themselves
prevented new “informal” vendors form establishing them- graded, from a semi-autonomous agency
selves in the downtown area. directly linked to the mayor, to a typical
municipal bureau (secretariat), on par with
• Transport Vouchers. In 1985, a compulsive transportation vouch-
er, to be deducted from worker payrolls, was established by planning, public works, and engineering.
federal law. Curitiba was well prepared to implement this poli- Many foreign technicians left the Institute.
cy. Transportation vouchers in coins had already been created.
It became more difficult to obtain data for
These were sold beforehand and kept their value for public
transit, in spite of constant increases in the cost of living. its operations. During this period, shifts in
political environment at the national level
• Physically and mentally handicapped. All of the schools teaching
influenced the allocation of international
handicapped students were registered with the city. Busses
already going out of the regular routes, established a regular financial assistance to other cities.
line for those schools, with public servants working as atten-
dants in these buses in the home to school and school to home
Partly to preserve its technical and
directions. Later, a special transfer terminal was established
so that the distance traveled by these buses was reduced. institutional integrity, and partly to align
with the social concerns of the new govern-
ments, IPPUC turned its attention to social policies for the city. IPPUC had gathered very
good baseline data on needs for schools, health clinics, and day care centers in each of seven
homogeneous regions that had been identified by socio-economic and research units. In 1985,
IPPUC participated in the census of Curitiba together with the Brazilian Institute of Statistics
(IBGE). A new data management unit was created (SCITAN), and it mapped highly detailed
information for every city block. Today, IPPUC’s data is the basis for cadastre registers (land
ownership and value) for the municipality and an important input to the Brazilian Institute of
Statistics (IBGE) for the national census on residential housing carried out every ten years.

At about the same time, the structuring of neighborhood associations began to be encouraged
and consolidated, and IPPUC began to deal directly with these associations. About 500

The Urban Sustainability initiative


neighborhood associations were organized, and IPPUC played a role in exploring or creating
site-specific solutions in each case. For instance, about 50 day care centers and 25 health clinics
were created in several areas of town. IPPUC’s technical units in social analysis began to work
more closely with municipal bureaus of health, youth, and education.

IPPUC also participated in planning for upgrading for several slums. The Superintendencies of
Execution and Planning proposed and eventually implemented a program for the re-location
of the needy population living near rivers and ravines to other parts of the municipality, using
a temporary ownership period (in a program known as Programa Pró-Locar). About 300
families were relocated and several ravines were urbanized.

Among the many social innovations generated by IPPUC during this period
(see sidebar, previous page) the “Trash that isn’t Trash” program is one of the most notable.
Squatter settlements in Curitiba, as in most cities of Latin America, form high density settle-
ments in areas such as hillsides and flood plains. In these areas it is hard to use customary
mechanized methods of solid waste removal. In the IPPUC program called “Trash that isn’t
Trash,” a publicity and education campaign helped to persuade residents to separate their trash
into organic and inorganic waste. The recyclable waste was collected by a private contractor
once a week, and taken to a processing center owned by the city. The facility employed
homeless people and recovering alcoholics to sort the trash into different types of materials.
The trash-purchase scheme and the “Trash that isn’t Trash” program were linked. The proceeds
from the sale of the recycled materials went to finance the purchase of surplus food from
farmers. The food is given in exchange for trash (Biller 1994: 92).

4. Revival and New Powers. Surface Metro and Consolidation

of the Social Sector:1989-1994
With the return of Jaime Lerner as mayor in 1989, IPPUC gained a new impetus from one
its main protagonists and started not only a revival of IPPUC’s stature and innovation in the
city, but also the projection outward to national and international influence. The return of
Lerner meant also a return of familiar hands managing IPPUC, this time by Cássio Tanigushi,
engineer. The two former colleagues formed a technical team, already twice named by the state
and federal governments to create and execute the guidelines and basic works of Curitiba’s
master plan. The technical strength built up over the previous period in socio-demographic
and geographic data was extended, and Lerner focused once again on solving emerging
problems in both social development and transport.

With smoother political relationships with the state, Lerner was able to engineer a return to
IPPUC of strategic control over public transportation. Equally important was the re-engage-
ment by IPPUC in decision making in spending in the city. Together with the other bureaus,
IPPUC set the priorities for the US$20 million in annual capital investment.

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


Increase in traffic over the previous decade had outgrown the innovative solutions from earlier
periods. The main arteries had become overloaded, and because the system was operating at its
capacity, long lines and traffic jams were forming within the
central beltway and at the main terminals in town during the
morning and evening rush hours.

Various elements of the solution involved creative thinking

and innovation on the part of IPPUC. One of the most
notable innovations was the tube station. Shaped like a long
cylinder (see illustration), the station is an above-grade
loading platform where people embark and disembark at
level equal to the bus carriage, much like a metro station. Bus fares are purchased in advance
inside the tube. These two innovations – level of entry and pre-paid fares – greatly accelerate
the transit time of bus stops. A second innovation, small express busses (“ligeirinhos”) were
added on fast routes with fewer stops. The combination of these changes helped solved the
problems of traffic jams.

Another improvement was the addition of bi-articulated buses, introduced on the heavier
north-south routes. The articulated busses have a larger capacity (about 270 passengers per
bus), allowing up to 11,000 passengers per hour in one
direction during rush hour.

Step by step, with critical inputs by IPPUC, a new and

innovative form of public rapid transit was invented in
Curitiba and is being replicated in many cities in Latin
America and elsewhere. In effect, the Curitiba system is a bus
system that runs on the surface in a way similar to metro rail
systems underground. Dedicated lanes and structural axes
were formed in the 1970s, data on ridership, social needs, and
costs, along with integrated controls, were added in the 1980s, and larger and faster vehicles
(like the tri-articulated buses shown in the graphic) with loading stations and low transaction
times complemented the system in the early 1990s. IPPUC technical and policy analysts played
important roles every step of the way, even during periods of political disfavor.

Meanwhile IPPUC remained active in social areas and environmental planning. IPPUC’s
social research and planning department extended its work with municipal health clinic
system, setting up small clinics in populous neighborhoods of the city. They function 24 hours
a day and help alleviate pressures on traditional city hospitals. IPPUC also played a role in
the planning and construction of day care centers and centers for extending learning hours in
elementary education.

The Urban Sustainability initiative


Flood Control and Parks

The return of favorable political relations with the state and federal governments enhanced
Curitiba’s access to state programs. The city took advantage of these circumstances to consoli-
date flood control, a challenge that had been with the city since the 1950s.

With the help of another international loan from the World Bank, Curitiba was able to solve
the problems of low-lying valleys and the flood areas of the municipality. Several parks were
established, the two larger ones measuring 630,000 m2; this time they were built closer to the
housing projects of the periphery, in green preserved areas. The amount of this loan is about
US$ 30 million; besides executing the
Curitiba is the birthplace of the Iguacu River, which flows into the
Parana River at the border between Brazil, Paraguay, and projects, IPPUC charged 5 percent for the
Argentina. The Iguacu’s northern section is the site of numerous management of the program.
springs that are vital for Curitiba’s water supply. Many smaller
tributaries of the Iguacu also cut through Curitiba. When the city
was small, the rise of these rivers during the rainy season was With the expansion of park and flood
uneventful because a wide floodplain handled the floods. Starting control areas, Curitiba increased green
in the 1950s, the city’s horizontal expansion encroached on this
space per capita by a factor of 10, giving
floodplain and caused severe flooding problems.
the city claim to being “an ecological city.”
Engineering solutions to this problem were unsuccessful because Oliveira (2001) challenges this claim,
channeling the rivers simply transferred the floods to other areas.
suggesting that environmental sustainability
City authorities realized that it was necessary to recover the flood-
plain. A concerted effort to expropriate areas along the courses of parkland, solid waste, and transport were
of the rivers and build small dams led to the creation of large more of a packaged afterthought than an
parks and lakes that today are Curitiba’s main recreational sites.
explicit objective driving these programs.
Concurrently, new land use regulations regarding the division of
land into plots for housing development prohibit the construction Whether premeditated or not, the progress
of streets and buildings in strips subject to flooding. and innovative solutions to typical urban
problems produced results that are studied
Another park (the Passauna Park) was also created to protect a
river and its system of springs that supply one-third of Curitiba’s and replicated in many cities in Latin
water. The area was declared an “environmental protection area” America.
under legislation that grants tax incentives for preservation of
forest cover. Further, the law allows only up to 30 percent of the
area to be used for construction. The choice of sites and the build- The administrative and organizational
ing parameters are subject to district approval. Similarly, new arrangements in the late 1990s bear a strong
housing developments in non-drainage areas must dedicate 35
resemblance to the key features of IPPUC
percent of the land area to the public domain for environmental
purposes. when it was founded. The research, land use
and transport planning, data and analysis,
The overall result is a city with one of the highest ratios of green
project implementation, and public commu-
areas per capita (50 square meters per inhabitant) among
Western cities, providing its citizens ample recreational and nications units appear in the organizational
cultural sites, more than 140 km of bicycle paths, neighborhood graphic (following page).
parks, and in-city forest reserves.
Source Biller, 1994

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


Oganization of Modern-Day IPPUC

6.3 10

6.2 10.1

5.2 6.1

5.1 6 7.1
5 1.1 7

4.1 4
1 1.2
8 8.1

3 9
3.1 2 9.1

1 President 2.1
2 Dir. of Information and Database

3 Dir. for Historically Significant Buildings 2.2

4 Dir. of Administration and Finance

5 Dir. of Strategic Planning

6 Dir. of Projects

7 Dir. of Urban Development

8 Dir. of Instituntional Relations

9 Dir. of International Relations 2.4

10 Dir. for the City University

The Urban Sustainability initiative


National and International Influences.

The achievements of IPPUC and Curitiba began to attract national and international attention
in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among other things, they showed how planning could be
effectively integrated across administrative and conceptual boundaries with effective results.
ICLEI has documented the innovative management of Curitiba, and the case has been written
up in numerous journals and books (Santoro and Leitmann 2004, MacLeod, 2002; Walljasper,
2001; Ravazzani and Afgani 1999). Tlaiye and Biller (1994) saw IPPUC as an example of
a home-grown institution that could help correct imperfections in the market that cause
environmental damage. In their terms, government environmental institutions work among
multiple agents, imperfect information, and across sectoral and administrative boundaries.
Using both corrective and preventive strategies, and working with both command and control
or market-based incentives, institutions like IPPUC are able to guarantee distribution of rights,
regulate externalities, and achieve optimal use of resources.

Beginning in the 1990s, the state of Parana upgraded its agency for municipal assistance,
FAMEPAR, under the leadership that once launched IPPUC in Curitiba. Now as governor,
Jaime Lerner appointed Lubomir Ficinski to head up the agency. It in turn began to facilitate
the financing and development of local governments with an approach to planning, land use,
and transport similar to the one pioneered in Curitiba. FAMEPAR managed one of the most
successful state-wide programs in municipal development in the World Bank’s portfolio.
According to Lowry (2002), IPPUC’s political and institutional capital was indispensable in
running programs like FAMEPAR at the state level in later years (Lowry 2002).

In 1992, the Curitiba Resolution was one of the founding documents of Rio Habitat Confer-
ence. That meeting, and the Local Agenda 21 that emanated from it, have set the stage for local
government action in sustainable urban development for the past two decades.

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


Factors in the Feasibility of an Urban Think Tank

What factors noticed in the course of this analysis might bear on the feasibility of establishing
an urban think tank? Many factors, both internal and external to IPPUC, help to explain its
origins, its institutional character, and likelihood of replicability. External factors have also
played an extremely important role in influencing the direction, the pace, and the opportuni-
ties for IPPUC to survive and grow.

1. Origins
Planning activities in Curitiba, like IPPUC itself, were founded under circumstances that are
not always common in developing world. As often with cases of innovation and leadership,
the triggering conditions were a sense of crisis – of health care, fiscal pressure, or natural
calamity (Campbell and Fuhr 2004). Leaders in Curitiba were influenced to some degree
by the rapidity of growth, the press of congestion, and the
recurrent issue of flooding. Many key leaders had faith in
urban planning as a solution to these problems. In Brazil and
much of Latin America in the 1960s, following extremely
high rates of urban growth, rates far higher than are seen in
most cities in the coming decades, planning was an accepted
activity and even a promise of relief if not salvation. These
same circumstances may not be so readily apparent today.

In Latin America for instance, many urbanists are now accustomed to the consequences of
past rapid urban growth, meaning disjointed and disordered cities and aging infrastructure.
In China, the speed of growth is not of demand in population movements as much as it is
from supply of infrastructure. These circumstances put more emphasis on the need to rein in
the private sector, and particularly public private arrangements in land conversion, and guide
them more effectively to public uses. But whether pressure is demographic or of exuberant
infrastructure, one lesson from Curitiba is that wide recognition of a problem needs to be felt
across a spectrum of political and social domains.

The Setting and Context Curitiba’s capacity to innovate has been assisted by wise planning
and institutional devel¬opment. It has also been influenced by political continuity and the
ability to forge cross-jurisdictional relations. During the era of action, the city benefited from a
suc¬ces¬sion of mayors, beginning with Jaime Lerner in 1971, who consolidated, maintained,
and added to key innovations.

The Urban Sustainability initiative


The relationship between the city and other levels of govern¬ment has also changed over
time and influenced Curitiba’s approach to urban development. The military dictatorship
from 1964 to 1979 had a telling effect on IPPUC at its formation. Curitiba responded by
developing creative and self-financing programs so that it could gradually implement its own
ideas – particularly those in land use and transport – without assistance from higher levels of

In general, the metropolitan level of government in Brazil failed to bridge the horizontal
gaps between local mayors, and the vertical distance between mayors and state governments.
Curitiba was an exception because of demographic and economic advantages: Curitiba’s
population was more than twice that of all other metropolitan muni¬cipalities combined, and
its status as the state capital lent it economic weight. Because of these advantages, Curitiba has
managed to achieve a higher degree of coordination with neighboring municipalities than the
Brazilian norm.

2. Internal and External Factors

Beyond the contextual factors that helped to shape the founding of IPPUC, a variety of
internal and external factors exerted influence on the pace and direction of its growth over the
decades. Many similar factors could play a role in similar agencies in the future.

Internal structure. IPPUC’s internal struc- Population pressures, flooding,

ture and mandate were critical factors in its
traffic congestion, and the oil
success, especially in the early years when the
institute was attempting to meet a challenge crisis all tested IPPUC’s
of legitimacy and technical competence. The capacity to help the city.
degrees of functional autonomy provided
some insulation from political interference in connection with choice of issues and scope of
intervention. Fortunately for Curitiba, many of the outcomes related to these issues were
favorable, and to some degree, management control by the governing council, with broad
based linkages to stakeholders, helped to maintain its autonomy.

Independence in internal organization offered IPPUC advantages in personnel staffing

at above public sector salaries on a competitive basis. This flexibility must be counted as
a singular factor of importance in the ability of the agency to conduct is work effectively.
Experts were hired representing many nationalities and large accumulated experience from
travel abroad. Also, IPPUC could ramp up manpower quickly when necessary. These policies
are unusual by standards of urban agencies in Latin America

IPPUC was designed to cover a wide scope of work, ranging from strategic planning to project
implementation and supervision, and to serve as the coordinating agency in a multi-jurisdic-

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba


tional environment. This reach across bureaucratic and governmental boundaries provided
the one dimension of strategic growth that set IPPUC apart from a typical planning unit.
IPPUC did not have the scope of vision held by, say the development agencies in Bilbao or
London. IPPUC’s view has been tempered by practical, operational considerations. Another
of IPPUC’s comparative advantages was its ability to integrate the ideas from many parts
of government and to provide analysis quickly and objectively. Community education and
publicity campaigns—with high tech graphics and presentational facilities—helped IPPUC
explain and sell its ideas both to city as well as metropolitan stakeholders and government
officials at all levels.

Because the basics of data gathering and management seem so fundamental, they are often
overlooked in the search for success in planning and management of cities in the developing
world. This factor, basic information concerning demographics, income, economic fundamen-
tals, and environmental quality, should not be overlooked in establishing criteria for replicabil-
ity of IPPUC. Gathering and handling basic socio economic data helped IPPUC become
partner with national authorities in housing census, in transport vouchers, and in scoping out
the dimensions of programs and costs. IPPUC’s data-base on infrastructure deserves greater

External factors. Twists and turns of political and technological change brought both chal-
lenges as well as opportunity to IPPUC, and in both kinds of circumstances, these helped to
reinforce the legitimacy of the institution.

Population pressures, flooding, traffic congestion, and the oil crisis all tested IPPUC’s capacity
to help the city. For the most part, IPPUC met the tests. Each challenge became a proving
ground for IPPUC. In a similar way, when new resources became available from outside the
city, for instance through the national government or the World Bank, IPPUC was ready to
take advantage quickly. IPPUC proved able also to convert its investment in basic data to
advantage in diagnostic work, speeding implementation of transport services for the disad-
vantaged, and to facilitate the national housing census, all examples of proving institutional
effectiveness to higher levels of government. In each of these instances, IPPUC used the
opportunity to rise above other cities taking part in the same or similar programs, and in so
doing, reaffirmed its value to the city.

The success of IPPUC is due in some part also to its longevity, and this in turn depended
importantly on individuals politicians who believed in the institution and who appeared and
reappeared to help sustain it. Jaime Lerner, Casio Tanagushci, and Lubomir Ficinski all helped
create and reinforce the institution. Conversely, on some occasions, the Institute was obliged
to shift course as part of adaptive strategy of survival, for instance with the election of populist

The Urban Sustainability initiative


Time Line of IPPUC in Curitiba

1943 Agache Plan created

1965 IPPUC Created

1966 Master plan approved

1967 Creation of pedestrian mall in city center

1972 Law extends IPPUC remit to include continuous planning

1977 IPPUC helps to coordinate interdepartmental procedures

1978 Integrated transport network devised

World Bank agreement on loan signed by mayor

1978-1982 Neighborhood bus terminals created

1981 Management system developed to track public works

1982 Change of political administration

1983 IPPUC downgraded to municipal department objectives shifted to social concerns

1985 IPPUC participates in the national census for the city

Transportation vouchers introduced

1987 Further personnel reforms; technicians begin to leave

1988 IPPUC becomes advisory arm of the office of mayor

1989 Lerner elected to office of mayor

1992 Curitiba Resolution, one of founding documents for Agenda 21 of UN

1996-1997 Revitalization of historic quarter in city

2000 Intensification of participation of public and linking city to citizen

Campell: IPPUC: The Untold Secret of Curitiba



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The Urban Sustainability initiative