Urban Sanitation and Climate Finance in Rio de Janeiro
Urban sanitation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What is the systems-solution needed to monitor projects and access climate finance?
Wastewater and sanitation systems in mega-cities are often insufficient and inefficient. At a local level, this causes health issues and environmental problems. However, the implications are global: greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater and sewage in cities have far-reaching implications because of the contribution to climate change. For example, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, wastewater and sewage results in over 30,000 tons of methane production per year, which carries twenty times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
Efficient sanitation systems in cities can reduce health problems, environmental threats, and greenhouse gas emissions, but their implementation is often mired by cost. In many cases around the world, climate finance has helped remove barriers to implementation and made sanitation technologies financially accessible. The challenge is that climate finance projects use rigorous methodologies, require copious amounts of project data from a variety of sources, and must be consistently monitored over time—which is even more complex in a mega-city system with numerous moving parts and competing priorities.
A user-focused, systems-based solution is needed to measure and monitor the greenhouse gas impacts of sanitation projects in order to access climate finance in mega-cities. A key component is the data collection from different agencies to a central database over time as part of a monitoring plan. The data is collected from private sector utilities and service providers, as well as planning agencies and other municipal departments. There are many large data tables that could be managed with excel spreadsheets; however often data from different sources is required for calculations. It is impractical for spreadsheets to be circulated for the volume of data required, and an automated system-solution for collection from different agencies would expedite and simplify the process. This will help make carbon finance for sanitation and waste water projects more accessible to more cities.
The hacked solution would be implemented in the city of Rio de Janeiro as part of the Rio Low Carbon City Development Program, an ISO-certified systems framework that the city launched in June 2012. The hacked solution would be applied to sanitation projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Rio, and the systems-based design would be applicable to projects in other sectors and other cities as well.