15 Apr 2016
Maringá – Leading-level Brazilian city engages citizens and civil society

The Brazilian municipality of Maringá has committed to becoming a Leading-level city of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme. An active participant of the Cities Programme since 2012, Maringá has increased its engagement by identifying and reporting on its activities to advance social equity and justice, environmental sustainability, fair livelihoods and good governance, and by committing to undertake leadership activities to advance the Compact within its sphere of influence. Mayor Robert Pupin is pictured to the left speaking about his city’s commitment to advancing the Ten UN Principles in the areas of human rights, environment, labour and anti-corruption and good governance.

As a leading level city, Maringá joins other cities across our Network that are are conscious of their roles as civic leaders and global citizens and work to contribute the knowledge and practices of other cities and regions, as well as their own region. A number of Maringá’s practices are outlined in this article, we strongly encourage you to read the full document, Maringá Leading-level City Report 2015-16.

Civil Society Leadership and Multi-Sectoral Collaboration

Located in the Brazilian southern state of Paraná, Maringá has a population of some 400,000 inhabitants. In comparison to many other Brazilian cities, Maringá has higher than average levels of health, education and child mortality. It is however working in a sustained manner to improve the life of all its citizens and advance critical social and economic rights.

In their Leading City Report, Maringá identifies a number of important civil society entities that are contributing to the region’s development, pioneering actions that ensure community participation in security discussions, monitoring of public finances, and social and economic development. These are the Maringá Council for Economic Development (CODEM), Maringá Social Observatory and the Maringá Communitarian Security Council. The work of these groups – and engagement of the multiple sectors that they represent – is regarded as essential for the sustainable development of the city.
CODEM is a result of the movement ‘Rethinking Maringá’, initiated in 1994 and led by the city´s trade association, which encouraged the participation of organised civil society in making political decisions and local and regional future planning. Dozens of entities from the private, education and employment sectors, as well as unions and civil society, now work with government authorities to develop the city.

CODEM achievements include a Technical Chamber to specifically address structural issues in Maringá and surrounding cities and development of long-term urban and logistics plans. Urban mobility actions include lowering of the railway line that crossed the city from east to west, revitalising transit along that route and enabling the implementation of an underground regional passengers train. CODEM has contributed to creation of a technology incubator, an innovation center, and a local cluster of companies in the information of technology and communication sector. It is now working on the long term Masterplan Metropolis of Maringá.

The Social Observatories in Brazil are an excellent example of the vital role that civil society can play in good city governance, prevention of corruption and appropriate dispersal of municipal budgets. The Maringá Social Observatory was created to promote social cohesion, through transparency and diligence in the management of public resources and to awaken the community to the socio-economic importance of taxes and the need to increase the effectiveness of their application. The Observatory consists of a group of professionals from various fields, such as lawyers, judges, accountants, economists, federal and state civil employees, business people, students and retirees who are driven by the same ideal. All are free of political party affiliation. Maringá Social Observatory have been developing their work to contribute to the proper relationship between the taxes collected and the services financed by these and is described as having had a profound impact.

Maringá Communitarian Security Council was the first communitarian security council in Brazil. It works on increasing community safety, supports the security structures and social defence of the city. It has been a link between the community, security forces and leaders of the government seeking a safer and more ethical society. It consists of groups of people from the organized civil society who meet to discuss and analyze, plan and track the resolution of their community safety issues, develop educational campaigns and strengthen understanding and cooperation ties between the various local leaders.

For more information, see the Consegmaringá website

The Human Right to Health, Education and Food and Nutrition Security

Quality of life is generally relatively highly in Maringá but the municipality continues to be strongly focused on improving access to core human rights such as education, health, food and nutrition and to advancing the rights of women and minorities.

Maringá invests 31 percent of its budget in the health sector and there is one health center for every 10,000 inhabitants. In 2013, Maringá launched the Health Card, and in 2014, it launched the Health Portal Maringá. Unprecedented, the Health Portal allows the access of users and health professionals to patient information.

New health programs in Maringá include Maringá Mother Program (Programa Mãe Maringáense),  STD/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis awareness and the ‘Attention to Violence’ network.

The Attention to Violence network brings together health sector representatives with the departments of Education, Social Welfare, Women, as well as non-governmental organisations, police, prosecutors, and the Child Protection Agency. It is structured in thirteen local groups, integrating and discussing strategies for addressing cases of violence that are common to the services of each locality, bringing the integrated public service closer to the citizen.

In 2007, the Department of Public Services of the city of Maringá implemented the Community Gardens program. It has now become public policy on healthy eating and agro-ecological urban land use, and is a model for cities across Brazil.

Maringá has 26 community gardens distributed in the neighbourhoods, which employs 700 families, producing every year 250 tons of natural and healthy food. 40 percent of production is for household consumption, and 60 percent is marketed, creating the opportunity for employment and income.  Also see the Cities Programme Case Study, ‘Community Gardening in Maringa’. 

Women’s Rights and Combating Violence

In promoting equality, Maringá City Hall has a Women’s Department and Racial Equality Promotion Office, with hundreds of cultural events and thematic seminars offered each year.

Maringá was one of the first municipalities in Paraná to establish a Women’s Municipal Office, which operates the Municipal Council of Women – including community representatives and government – and the Assistance to Women Reference Center. All have goal of developing the qualification, recovery and empowerment of women.

The Women’s Municipal Office is also structured with a house to shelter victims of violence. It promotes an affirmative action policy to reaffirm the status of women as a social and political subject, and prioritises that child and adolescents stay in the school system in situations where the mother victim of violence is sheltered. When the child is also sheltered, they receive support in their school activities. According to the National Policy on Combating Violence Against Women, four areas address violence which are prevention, combat, assistance and guarantee of rights. The Women’s Municipal Office also promotes economic and financial autonomy of women through training courses with qualifications that provide social inclusion, income generation and employment for women from 16 years old.

Vision of Freedom

In a project called Vision of Freedom, detainees of the Maringá State Penitentiary work for the benefit of the visually impaired. At a recording studio within the institution, with computer and media equipment, detainees produce Braille books, embossed teaching materials and talking books that are distributed in public schools in 123 cities in Brazil. These materials are also being sent to more than 104 entities in 25 states in Brazil and also to the National Library of Lisbon, Portugal. Over 60 thousand talking books, nearly 60 thousand embossed materials and more than five thousand CDs have been produced by detainees of Maringá State Penitentiary under the Vision of Freedom programme.

Environmental Stewardship – clean water, sanitation and nature reserves

With thirteen forest reserves (totaling 1400 square kilometers of protected area), more than 103 thousand square meters of gardens and more than 160,000 trees, Maringá has one the highest ratios of green space per inhabitant in Brazil, accounting for about 26 m2 of green area per inhabitant. City Hall has been active in the recovery and revitalization of its valley bottoms and parks and developed master plans seeking to fulfill the environmental dimension of sustainability as the Basic Sanitation Plan, the Integrated Waste Plan on line, and the Municipal Plan of Conservation and recovery of the Atlantic Forest, as well as installation points for recyclable and electronic waste collection. The Vale Fund (Fundos de Vale) Areas Preservation Program has increased the quality of water resources, preserving riparian vegetation, with the removal of non-native forest animals, and the community has planted thousands of seedlings to in environmental education actions, deploying ecological sidewalks along the margins of valley bottoms, 22 linear kilometers.

The City of Maringá, in its role as a Leading-level city, commits to report on the aforementioned activities, among others, on a regular basis over the next three years. It will also undertake actions that advance knowledge and good practice in other cities and regions.

Leading-level cities and regions of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme are conscious of their roles as civic leaders and global citizens and also work to improve the knowledge and practices of other cities and regions. They actively and meaningfully engage their citizens and other stakeholders in their planning and projects. 

For more information, contact Elizabeth Ryan, elizabethryan@citiesprogramme.org

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