Public hearing discusses Campo Grande’s Ecological Footprint
By Geralda Magela
(Campo Grande – Mato Grosso do Sul/Brazil) To expand the debate on the city of Campo Grande’s Ecological Footprint, a public hearing was held in September 26, in the Council Chamber of Mato Grosso do Sul’s state capital. The hearing was a recommendation of the president of the Campo Grande City Council’s Environment Committee, councillor Eduardo Romero.
In addition to committee members, representatives of WWF-Brazil, the Brazilian Bar Association, the municipal government’s Environment and Urban Planning Departments, and of the Ecological Footprint management committee took part in the debate.
Opening the event, WWF-Brazil Conservation officer Terezinha Martins gave a presentation on Ecological Footprint explaining how the methodology is used to measure the impacts of consumption on natural resources. She also showed the results of the work carried out in Campo Grande as part of the process of calculating its Ecological Footprint, and the mobilization and mitigation activities that are currently underway in the city.
Campo Grande was the first Brazilian city to make this calculation. The work was carried out by WWF-Brazil in collaboration with the municipal government of Mato Grosso do Sul’s state capital, the Global Footprint Network (GFN), the Ecossistemas social company and the Anhanguera private university.
The study, launched in 2012, revealed an Ecological Footprint of 3.14 hectares per person. “That means that 1.7 planets would be needed if everyone in the world were to consume in the same way as Campo Grande’s inhabitants; in other words, they are already heavily overspending ", said the WWF-Brazil officer.
Terezinha Martins stressed how important it was to involve all segments- civil society, public authorities and corporations – to foster actions capable of reducing the Footprint size. “The citizens can do their part by adopting a critical posture and improving their habits as consumers. In turn, governments must take responsibility for planning and implementing actions designed to mitigate and reduce such impacts. At the other end, the corporations need to engage in improving their production chains so that they can offer consumers more sustainable products”.
To unfold mobilization and mitigation activities designed to reduce impacts, an Ecological Footprint management group was set up. It consists of representatives of WWF-Brazil, the municipal Education Department, the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, the Dom Bosco Catholic University, the Permaculture institute, the Kairós – youth group (Coletivo Jovem- Kairós), and the Solidarity Economy Network (Rede de Economia Solidária).
Over the last two years 45% of the municipal teachers have been the target of capacity building in the use of the Ecological Footprint tool. With WWF-Brazil support, the mobilization work is being further expanded with the implantation of eleven sustainable schools in Campo Grande’s municipal schools network. The Brazilian Ministry of Education is unfolding this project which has been designed to stimulate public schools to become sustainable educational spaces. The Footprint Management Group accompanies the work and also publicises the Ecological Footprint in the city’s markets and other public spaces.
The president of the municipal council’s environment committee Eduardo Romero pointed out that the Ecological Footprint provides important information to support city planning and the actions in course are highly positive. However, he feels there is an urgent need to move forward and to permanently and continuously expand this work into other areas of the city. “We need to elaborate Ecological Footprint legislation and seek for synergies to ensure the implementation of public policies that are capable of reducing the impacts”, he insisted. In his view, the aim of the public hearing was to promote precisely such dialogue with society at large.
In the public hearing audience there was a group of students from the Educap Institute, Campo Grande. The school has a reputation for involvement with environmental issues and makes use of the Ecological Footprint calculator in its classes, stimulating the students to adopt more sustainable habits. One of its year nine students, Felipe Silva Castro, caught the audience’s attention when he took the floor in the council chamber.
Although he is only 15 he demonstrated a critical posture in regard to the incentives to consume to which young people are constantly exposed. “At every moment new cell phone technology appears and we are left with the feeling that if we don´t change our phones we are going to be left out of date. What can be done to change that?” he asked.
Felipe stated that he had calculated his own Ecological Footprint and was shocked at the result. Consequently he began to change a series of things in his daily round. “Today I have a clear notion that all my actions have impacts on the environment and I am trying to change my habits” he declared.
The student said that in his school they no longer use plastic cups and they have learned many ways of re-cycling and re-using material such as making soap from used frying oil. Furthermore, he does not keep such knowledge to himself. “It is no use if I alone do my part, other people need to do theirs too. That is why everything I learn, I pass on to my family and friends”, he insisted.