Jaime Lerner, architect, urban planner, former Mayor of Curitiba and former Governor of Paraná, passed away last Thursday, 27 May, at age 83 due to complications from chronic kidney disease. Lerner was an important Brazilian politician and urban planner, having been elected Mayor of Curitiba (PR) three times (1971-1975, 1979-1984 and 1989-1993) and Governor of Paraná twice (1995-1998 and 1999-2002). At the time of his death, he was working as a consultant to the United Nations on issues related to urbanism.
“Jaime’s Lerner was a remarkable visionary and advocate for people, place and the planet. His legacy on sustainable development for local and regional governments, as well as his contributions to the ICLEI network, the city of Curitiba and the State of Paraná, and the world, will not be forgotten,” said Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI.
As Governor of the state of Paraná, Lerner dedicated himself to improving transportation, education, health, land use, and sanitation. In part due to his work in childhood education programs like Da Rua para a Escola (From the Street to the School), Protegendo a Vida (Protecting Life), and Universidade do Professor (Teacher’s University), the government of Paraná was granted with the Unicef Child and Peace Prize
Lerner will especially be remembered for transforming the city of Curitiba, capital of Paraná, into a model of sustainable urban development, especially for global south cities. He implemented visionary public transportation changes, such as bus rapid transit (BRT), creating numerous green spaces, created the first pedestrian-only downtown streets, and implemented an advanced recycling program. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Curitiba has been associated with ICLEI South America since 1992, playing a key role in the development of the network for nearly 30 years. Between 2018 and 2021, Paraná held a seat on the network’s highest body – the ICLEI Regional Executive Committee (RexCom) for South America, which globally represents ICLEI Members of the region.
The city of Curitiba has grown to be an active part of the global sustainability effort. It is a part of the Urban-LEDS Project (developed by UN-Habitat and ICLEI), is included in the Action Fund initiative – a partnership between Google.org and ICLEI – and is working on the development and implementation of a Climate Action Plan. In addition, the city is a signatory to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) and has been involved in important events on the climate agenda such as COP23 and the Resilient Cities Congress in Germany, and the Ecomobility Congress in Taiwan.