Ministry of Environment and Public Space – Buenos Aires
Eduardo Macchiavelli has been the Minister of Environment and Public Space for the Buenos Aires City Government since December 2015. He is a Public Accountant with a Master of Business Administration. Until 2004 he specialized in the area of administration and finance, and worked in the Buenos Aires Legislature. At the end of 2007 he worked in the Secretary of Management and Control. In December 2011 he was the Secretary of Citizen Assistance.
Juan Pablo Limodio, Ezequiel Capelli, Renzo Nestor Morosi and Maria Clara Muzio work in different parts of the Ministry as Vice Secretaries.
Juan Pablo Limodio, as Vice Secretary of General Administration and Public Space of the City of Buenos Aires, what do you think are the challenges that the City presents when thinking about public policies to improve the quality of life of the residents?
From our office we work to transform the public space according to the needs of the residents. We want public space to be a place to spend time and enjoy, so that it is a place to meet with others and to feel a sense of belonging. Our challenge is to continue incorporating more and more green spaces and achieve a more pleasant and sustainable environment.
The Ministry of Environment and Public Space seeks to strengthen sustainability with our commitment to reduce pollution, improve air quality and reduce noise pollution. What are the main policies that were implemented to do this?
The implementation of pedestrian-only areas responds to the need to generate a more environmentally-friendly city. This redesign of public space contributes to improving air quality and decreasing noise pollution, since they increase walkable areas and reduce vehicular traffic. For example, after the reopening of Calle Corrientes the sound impact decreased by two decibels on average in relation to the measurements prior to the project.
Bueno Aires became the first city in Latin America to use 100% LED lights for all public lights. What was it like to complete this project? What role do you think the City plays in the region as a whole?
The public lighting conversion program was carried out as part of a comprehensive plan to combat the effects of climate change.
At the start of the project in 2013, there were about 125,000 lights throughout the City. During these six years, 35,000 new lights were installed throughout the city. The City currently has 160,000 LED lights, including street lights and lights in squares – which are more powerful, durable and sustainable than the previous bulbs. By the end of 2019, the city will have 165,000 lights with additional projects such as Paseo del Bajo, Viaducts, Housing complexes and others.
In addition, last year we began the “Pasate a LED” program, in which residents are able to exchange incandescent bulbs for new LED lights. There are currently 56 replacement stations distributed throughout the city and more than 800,00 LED lights have already been delivered.
What is the city’s role in citizen education to raise awareness of care for the environmental? What are green races? And what impact do they have?
From our office, we carry out various awareness campaigns about the importance of responsible consumption and care for the environment. We do this with mass and direct communication, and by meeting with residents in public spaces.
Thanks to this, more and more residents are involved and now separate trash for recycling in their homes. In that way, the ‘Green Race’ is a competition aimed to highlight awareness of caring for the environment. The race started in 2015 and invites residents each year to participate and make trash separation more visible. Those who take part are separated into two teams: one with green shirts (representing recyclables) and another with black shirts (representing organics). Since 2015, each race has included at least 5,000 participants, and in last year’s race, there were more than 10,000.
The government adopted a policy to treat waste as a resource. What has been done in terms of recycling?
The city generates around 7,300 tons of waste every day. This waste goes to the Porteño Recycling Center where it is processed, applicable materials are recovered and returned to the industry, adding to the circular economy. Thanks to this work, it has been possible to reduce garbage to landfill by 50%.
The Recycling Center of the City has five treatment plants in which materials from supermarkets and hotels (organic), neighborhoods (pruning remains), construction projects and cooperatives (PET and MRF) are recycled.
Since the government emphasizes putting residents at the center of public space, what has been done to achieve this goal of having a more walkable city?
To develop the city on a human scale, pedestrian areas have been created. The objective is to revitalize the public space through a comprehensive approach, strengthening the identity of neighborhoods, whilst focusing on walkability, sustainability and the enhancement of existing heritage. The Macromanzanas strategy has been applied: within this structure of streets, secondary traffic axes prioritize sustainable mobility and the development of useful public space. Here are some examples of projects that have been completed to improve the walkability of Buenos Aires:
- Microcentro Plan: More than 80% of streets in the Microcentro area are pedestrian priority and includes vehicular restraint. Until the plan began to be implemented in 2012, 15,000 private vehicles circulated in the area per day. Since the project was applied, that figure was reduced by 77%.
- Pedestrian Retreat: Improvements were conducted and completed in 2017 of the area between Carlos Pellegrini streets, Del Libertador Avenue, Maipú and Santa Fe Avenue. The leveling of the street on Suipacha, Arroyo, Basavilbaso streets and Sargento Cabral Landscape; widening of the paths of Juncal Street between Esmeralda and Maipú and the extension of the Plazoleta Paul P. Haris.
- Pedestrian Courts: In the new surroundings of Plaza Lavalle, more than 5,000m2 of public space was converted to green space and inaugurated in September 2017.
- Pedestrian Eleven: inaugurated in 2018. The works included the pedestrianization of streets, the widening of sidewalks, extension of corners and the enhancement of the Open Sky Shopping Center located on Pueyrredón Avenue.
- Pedestrian Currents: inaugurated in April 2019. The Objective was to generate an atmosphere for walking and staying in the most traditional avenue of the City of Buenos Aires and Argentina.
On May 17, the International Recycling Day, an artistic exposition was hosted in Plaza San Martin. What was the project about and what was its objective?
The artistic exposition in Plaza San Martín on Recycling Day, was carried out to highlight Sustainable Land Art, Saype, and the objective was to generate awareness of this act. The exposition was an image on the grass that combined the earth with 100% biodegradable materials.
What are the main policies adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency?
Some of the activities and policies promoted by the Ministry of Environment and Public Space, through the Environmental Protection Agency, are:
- Collection of used vegetable oil and electronic equipment:
The City has 119 collection points for used vegetable oil and 50 collection points for electronic and electrical equipment; in addition to the 4 mobile unites that run through all the neighborhoods and collect both types of materials.
- Prohibition of single-use straw
The resolution (signed in May of this year, by the Ministry of Environment and Public Space of the City, through the Environmental Protection Agency) establishes that no single-use plastic straws can be offered or placed in view of the client, and after six months, the use, delivery and sale of single-use plastic straws is prohibited completely.
- Prohibition of plastic bags for delivery:
In January 2017, the Ministry of Environment and Public Space of the City, through the Environmental Protection Agency, resolved to prohibit plastic bags in free delivery or online sales, in supermarkets and self-service stores, food and beverage stores, or to be used for the transport of merchandise.
- Creation of the Paseo Ambiental del Sur:
Opened in 2018, Paseo Ambiental del Sur is an open classroom designed to teach how the urban and natural environments interact. Guided tours, talks and workshops are open to the community and focus on strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Pictures: Ministry of Environment and Public Space
Sources of the Ministry of Environment and Public Space of Buenos Aires City Government.