At Home in the Megacity – São Paulo

Bruno Bergamo works as Marketing Manager at DEKRA Brasil in São Paulo. It is one of the dangerous places to live on earth.

Bruno Bergamo

Bruno Bergamo: “Violence is a big issue in São Paulo. It’s impossible to walk the city’s streets at night without fear”, Photo: André Vieira

For Bruno Bergamo, the topic of safety is one that plays a prominent role when he talks aboutprihis home city. The DEKRA Brasil Marketing Manager lives in São Paulo. The city of twelve million people is one of the planet’s worst ranked for safety, according to the PwC study. More than 20 million “Paulistanos” live in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. While in 1990 ‘only’ 14.5 million people wanted to live here, a population in excess of 22.5 million is forecast for 2025.

DEKRA Solutions Sao Paulo from DEKRA on Vimeo.

With around 8.7 murders per 100,000 citizens in 2015, we see the drastic reality of a megacity in which one’s quality of life is defined by safety. “If you live in São Paulo, you want to live in an apartment rather than a house. It’s safer,” says Bergamo, father to a three-year-old daughter. Those that can afford it move into residential compounds monitored via CCTV and by security staff. Commercial buildings are also often equipped so as to provide a safe haven for their employees. Bergamo states: “I wish that it was just safer in general. For now, it’s unthinkable to walk down the street at night without some degree of worry.” Instead, car windows are bulletproofed, or given dark tints – the more affordable option. This prevents people outside the vehicle seeing whether the occupants are wearing jewelry, carrying a mobile phone, or sporting an expensive suit. The danger of falling prey to armed robbers in stop-and-go traffic is otherwise far too high. “In the evening,” explains Bruno Bergamo, “you don’t stop at all for red lights.” Robberies, carjackings and break-ins are just part of daily life. Even children are aware of it, preferring to travel to school in a private vehicle rather than the schoolbus.

But Bruno Bergamo also describes the positive sides, and the things that have improved. He talks of the parks that have been redeveloped in recent years to make the city greener. And of sustainability and environmental protection improvements: “Much has been done for the environment in recent times,” he reports. The city started separating its waste in recent years. “Before that, everything was disposed of together. If you wanted to separate your trash, you had to go to designated collection locations.”

Megacities need to be more attractive

And yet, there is still much to be done to protect the environment. In São Paulo for example, much of the city’s waste water is pumped directly into the rivers. This can have many negative consequences. But the current trend of urbanization will only continue to exacerbate the city’s overpopulation.

It’s a trend that is predicted to continue. There are jobs and schools in megacities. That draws people in like a magnet. The same applies to business; companies relocate to places where there is an abundant supply of labor. It is also increasingly important that employees enjoy life in the city in which they work. In order to be competitive on a global level and to attract private investment, cities need to appeal to both employee and employer alike. Even today, megacities generate vast proportions of their respective countries’ gross domestic products. Certain metropolises have even larger economies than entire nations, and cite this fact to demand a say in decisions commensurate to the cities’ importance. The greater Los Angeles area, for example, boasts a GDP that exceeds that of countries such as the Netherlands or even Turkey. From an economic viewpoint therefore, a city’s ability to attract new people is hugely important.

Environmental impact becoming a focus

But more people means more garbage and more waste water. To ensure that metropolises are well-equipped to deal with such issues in future, city planners need to be innovative. Some cities are well-prepared and on-the-ball when it comes to their environmental impact. Berlin is one such example. In the PwC study, Germany’s megacity stole first place in this category. Admittedly however, with 3.5 million inhabitants the city’s situation and infrastructure can hardly be compared with megacities that have long surpassed the ten-million mark.

The question therefore remains as to how it will continue, if more and more people move into the world’s cities. Even today, 60 per cent of the world’s available drinking water is used in cities – despite the fact that they only take up three per cent of the Earth’s surface. This was the finding of a study commissioned by Siemens. It will be cities’ prerogative to create innovative structures that both guarantee supply reliability for inhabitants, and ensure an acceptable ecological
footprint. There are pilot projects to test the viability of self sufficient concepts, such as residential developments that generate their own energy and grow their own food, or homes that are equipped with photovoltaic cells that can even feed energy back into the grid. However, actually implementing such concepts is not
going to be easy. What works in concept often fails in reality. An example of this is Dongtan City in China, which was to be built for the Expo 2010. The metropolis was to be the world’s first CO2 neutral million-plus city. Sadly, it is a utopia that has not yet been realized, even today.

Author: Daniela Lukaßen

(Please click on picture to enlarge)

More reportages on living in a megacity:

At Home in the Megacity – Life in Mumbai

At Home in the Megacity – Life in Los Angeles

At Home in the Megacity – Life in Shanghai

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