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Curitiba: Once model city, now frozen in the past

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There was a time when Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil of 1.7 million inhabitants, was a model town heralding a future of durable development and urbanism.

But that was 20 years ago.

Today, although it features ample green spaces and a public transport system replicated in many other parts of the world, “Curitiba has ceased to innovate,” says Jaime Lerner, an architect behind much of the city’s layout.

Lerner, who served three terms as Curitiba’s mayor from the 1970s to the 1990s, oversaw the creation of numerous parks, an integrated transport system that featured bus stops in the form of tubes, and a recycling system that was advanced for its time.

In the 1980s, residents learned the basics of sorting their household waste under the slogan “Trash Is Not Trash,” becoming among the first in Brazil to do so.

Curitiba also became proud of the fact that 250 cities around the planet sought to copy its public transport system.

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