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Araracanga. Photo: Haroldo Palo Jr.

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24 jun 2019
:Institutional:

Initiative unites institutions to strengthen water safety in the Guanabara Bay

Innovation lab aims to increase cooperation networks, with public and private actors, towards water safety and coastal marine resilience in the bay area.

Photo Credit: iStock
Located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the Guanabara Bay includes 14 municipalities, forming an extremely important water basin regarding economic, social and leisure factors. 

To improve the water safety and coastal marine resilience in the Guanabara Bay, the Oásis Lab initiative will be launched on June 24. The proposal has developed an innovation lab that will unite actors from the public and private sectors with the aim of creating and prototyping nature-based solutions and improving the already existing conservation projects in the Bay. “Oásis Lab aims to form strategic alliances to unlock existing solutions and projects, as well as designing collaborative projects, integrating agendas to generate positive impacts in the water region and its associated coastal ecosystems,” notes Renato Atanazio, Coordinator of Nature-Based Solutions at the Boticário Group Foundation. 

The program is an initiative by the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection, together with the Rio de Janeiro State Industry Federation (Firjan) and the Rio de Janeiro State Environment Institute (Inea). The key strategy to be adopted is developing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), which are actions that use natural processes and ecosystems to face urgent current challenges in society. In the Guanabara Bay scenario, the main challenges and possible applicable NBS are:

- Water safety: preserve and recover ecosystems aiming to increase the water supply and production capacity in nature, reducing the transportation of sediments and costs with water treatment.
- Siltation: increase native vegetation coverage in the region, particularly on river margins, controlling the quantity of sediments that arrive at the Bay. 
- Floods: maintain and increase native natural areas that can minimize the surface flow of water, increasing the potential for adapting to the extreme rainfall events that have historically impacted the region.
- Coastal ecosystem degradation: hold sustainable management and reef recovery actions, which can also be efficient to contain advancing sea levels and develop the local economy; 

“There is an immense potential that is still unexplored in the Guanabara Bay. Firjan wants to be at the forefront of the Bay's full recovery, and for that purpose we must act in integrated manners. With that goal in mind, we found in a partnership with the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection and the State Environment Institute an opportunity to take part in the process of improving its environmental quality, generating business opportunities, employment, income, social welfare and economic development in surrounding areas,” said Lídia Aguiar, Environmental Analyst at Firjan.

Oásis Lab Development

Around 50 institutions, including businesses, industries, NGOs and public agencies should take part in Oásis Lab. There will be two stages, the first being the joint conception of projects, and the latter an empowerment, bringing actors from several fields to point out challenges and, from a nature-focused approach, design solutions for the Guanabara Bay.

Projects executed in other regions of the country will also serve as a foundation for the innovation lab. One example is the Vermelho River Basin Study, in São Bento do Sul (SC), which identified the benefits of preserving and recovering native natural areas in the city and region's water basins, aiming for an increase in water safety, considering the impacts of climate change. The project has also shown a 39% decrease in water treatment and supply expenses. Without the investment, losses could amount to nearly BRL 32 million yearly.

Another project that will serve as an example has been put in practice in Paraná. Cultivando Água Boa (CAB) is a methodology grounded on several socioenvironmental actions related to water safety in the Brazil-Paraguay border region, in western Paraná, where the Itaipu Hydro Power Plant* is located. The initiative relied on the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, as well as promoting quality of life in communities influenced by Itaipu Binacional.