How Global Urban Development Aims to Transform Brazil, One Community at a Time

     Since its inception in 2001, Global Urban Development (GUD) has successfully carried out its purpose to create dialogues and design projects that generate strategic policy interventions and program innovations which can be replicated on a very large scale to improve the quality of life in urban communities worldwide.  In addition, GUD has assembled a global network of urban development leaders and experts since the organization’s conception in September of 2001. From Prague to Mumbai, they’ve been involved in helping to create sustainable urban environments across the world. GUD is notable for transforming many urban areas, including the NoMa neighborhood of Washington DC, and their best practices have been adapted by NGOs and city governments across the world. Now, GUD executives Marc Weiss and Nancy Sedmak-Weiss are focusing their attention on Brazil. 

A New Focus on Brazil

GUD’s current project is the Porto Alegre Sustainable Innovation Zone (ZISPOA), which is a grassroots, citizen-led, community-based movement to transform part of the Independencia and Floresta neighborhoods into the most sustainable and innovative place in Latin America by 2020. ZISPOA is the first phase of the “Leapfrog Economic Strategy for the State of Rio Grande do Sul (RS) to become the most sustainable and innovative place in Latin America by 2030.”

Since 2015, GUD has been collaborating with Brazilian organizations Paralelo Vivo Sustainable Innovation Hub, Pulsar, Nos Coworking, UFRGSm and many others to help organize ZISPOA. They plan on achieving sustainability through becoming the most solar powered, most energy efficient, most digitally connected, most renewable technology friendly and most bike friendly area in Latin America.  They will achieve these goals by creating a business-friendly environment with participatory community management and an emphasis on creativity and collaboration, especially concerning sustainability and resource efficiency. The project is designed by the community and for the community; it will rely on volunteer engagement and partnerships with local businesses, students and residents, and the projected outcome will benefit the community as a whole.


For the Community, By the Community

Still in its early days, under GUD’s guidance, ZISPOA has been gaining increasing visibility. Six working groups established in 2015 have been instrumental in creating strategic action initiatives for sustainability, including planning the first ZISPOA Festival for World Environment Day on June 5th of this year. GUD has also created a business-friendly website for ZISPOA, collaborated with designers and engineers to create a sustainable community map for Porto Alegre, and much more. GUD is also collaborating with governments, and has held two webinars on sustainability with the U.S. Department of State and the Swedish government respectively. The initiatives GUD has pushed forward for ZISPOA have gained recognition in the press; ZISPOA and Marc Weiss were featured in an article for Next City, praising them for striving to make Porto Alegre “Latin America’s Silicon Valley.” With strong partnerships, international recognition and a successful media strategy that features a Facebook page and YouTube videos, GUD and ZISPOA and the communities they serve have a very bright future (and an even brighter 2020) ahead of them.