Brazil is a rapidly-developing nation, and with some of the most valuable and pristine jungle ecosystems on the planet, Brazilians are at risk of losing precious open spaces in the name of progress. As a result, the Brazilian government and industry leaders have started mapping out a more coordinated strategy for ensuring a sustainable future through eco-friendly infrastructure.
One leading advocate in the push for Brazil’s sustainable future is Felipe Montoro Jens. A well-known figure in Brazil’s financial industry, Jens built his reputation as an infrastructure specialist. Jens has been involved in developing financial strategies for the companies under which he has worked for many years, leveraging his education and financial training to impact the lives of people and businesses. Most of his experience and expertise in the financial industry were developed during his tenure at Santo Antônio Energia, where he served as Director. It was here that Jens began applying his skills to infrastructure. Now, with positions on the boards of several Brazilian companies, Jens has a platform from which he can direct infrastructure projects throughout the region.
Felipe Montoro Jens has established himself as a leading supporter of environmentally conscious development in Brazil. He is an advocate and advisor for many public works projects throughout the country and has worked in the world of infrastructure for 25 years. Jens, who brings decades of experience to the table, is sought after by governments, large companies, and private agencies looking to develop and implement powerful financial strategies for their projects. His background in infrastructure includes strategies for state governments, solutions to financial waste, elimination of corporate waste, and environmental liability.
The Getúlio Vargas Foundation – one of the most renowned administrative colleges in Brazil – awarded Jens his degree in administration. After completing his studies, he attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, a leading institution of training in global business administration. Jens entered the corporate world soon after completing his education and quickly climbed the corporate ladder. He has worked for several renowned global companies, and his innovation has been a valuable asset in several major infrastructure projects.
Felipe Montoro Jens puts his industry expertise to use through advising Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Brazil. PPPs are business arrangements between the government and private industry that make up the foundation for infrastructure projects throughout the country. Jens feels that building better infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to improve people’s lives and that when projects are well-planned, they can have a minimal impact on the environment.
Brazil’s tourism industry is just one area in which Jen’s infrastructure experience is helping to improve the nation’s economy. Brazil is one of the hottest tourist destinations on the planet, featuring thousands of miles of beautiful beaches, the wild Amazon Jungle, the rugged Andes Mountains, and the famous Rio de Janeiro. Year after year, Brazilian cities are featured on travel guides’ “Best of” lists, and the flood of tourism isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
However, it is beginning to become apparent that over-tourism is wreaking havoc on the country’s fragile ecosystems and small quaint villages, which are ill-equipped to handle the hordes of tourists who flock to these exotic destinations from around the world every year. Felipe Montoro Jens took note of one such area in Brazil that was struggling from similar problems: Santa Catarina. Brazilian travel magazine Viagem e Turismo chose the State of Santa Catarina as the best travel destination in Brazil for 2018. It’s home to Brazil’s most popular theme park, award-winning resorts, and world-class hotels. Viagem e Turismo highlighted Santa Catarina’s capital, Florianópolis, as not only the best city, but also home to the best beach in the country.
Jens was quick to bring attention to the condition of the infrastructure in the Santa Catarina area. As one of Brazil’s most popular tourist destinations, its infrastructure was under massive strain from the demands of tourists and residents alike. Bottlenecks on roads and highways caused by lack of repair or insufficient capacity were strangling businesses. Even basic services like water, power, and sanitation were falling behind. Mild storms could knock out power or cause raw sewage to spill over into the ocean. Such complications inevitably scare away valuable tourist dollars while at the same time taking a toll on the environment.
To address these problems, the government has begun to spend millions of dollars on infrastructure projects in an attempt to protect the people living and vacationing in these coastal areas. Jens has stepped in, consulting on the project to ensure that the government doesn’t repeat prior mistakes. His analyses suggest that in the past the government took too overbearing an approach regarding its PPPs. Such heavy intervention would cause projects to fail and would scare away foreign investment. Now, with more balanced oversight, the recent investments are able to rehabilitate the region with sustainable goals and strategies in place.
Already, about R$ 17.5 million has been invested for the improvement of the congested roadways, road maintenance, and beautification through pruning and planting vegetation. During these improvements, great care needed to be taken to ensure that the drainage and bridges weren’t compounding existing problems with water quality. Additionally, with the help of PPPs, new power lines have been laid, and existing parts of the power grid have been improved.
Water quality was probably the most challenging infrastructure issue facing organizers. In some areas, the water quality had become so poor that bathers were at risk of suffering seizures caused by dangerous bacteria levels in the water. Not only were the beaches spoiled for swimmers, but the sea life was withering away from algae blooms and toxic chemicals leeching into the ocean through nearby rivers. The overloaded sewer systems in the area were the main culprit in this ecological disaster. Felipe Montoro Jens identified several neighborhoods to the north of Florianópolis whose sewage networks needed immediate attention on his Twitter page.
According to Jens, infrastructure projects to shore up sewer leaks and increase capacity are more than 60% complete and should be finished by 2020 while efforts to improve the water quality in the area have yielded substantial improvement in the quality of the beaches, benefitting both tourists and marine life. In fact, many of the beaches have begun to re-open to bathers, and the entire region will gradually become swimmable again as the city continues to complete projects – All of this, of course, is great news for the tourism industry and the environment.
Green Transportation According to Felipe Montoro Jens
Another environmentally-conscious initiative for which Felipe Montoro Jens advocates is the integration of bicycles into the public transit system. Today, advocates like Jens are focused on a push to turn the Brazilian Bicycle Program into law under the National Urban Mobility Policy. The program is designed to encourage local city and state governments in Brazil to incorporate bicycle lanes into existing transportation networks and to include bike lanes in all future infrastructure projects. The initiative also calls for the adoption of public bicycle standards to improve safety and efficiency through a uniform system of lane sizes, colors, and symbols that are easily-recognizable to motorists and bicyclists alike. To round out the program, an educational campaign is underway to inform the public about the many benefits of using bikes for everyday transportation. The bike campaign will focus its attention on safety but will also lay out the improvement’s bikes offer to personal health, public transit, and the environment.
Jens reports that the necessary funds for the Brazilian Bicycle Program will come from a portion of the revenue collected from the country’s traffic citations. The program has proposed diverting 15% of this revenue into the project, which would mean R$ 1 billion annually. Additional revenue will come from a portion of fossil fuel exports, local governments and municipalities, and private donations.
Bicycles are already a widely-used alternative throughout the country, bolstering the confidence of Jens and other proponents that a bicycle transport stimulus program will be approved. Investment in the bicycle program is expected to generate billions of dollars in job growth, efficiency, and improved environmental factors. Furthermore, Brazilians tend to promote a culture of protection for road cyclists, which is uncommon in other developed nations. Moving forward, the program is seeing promising momentum as it works to convince the public that bicycles and motor vehicles can coexist on public roads.
The bill, directed at cities with populations greater than 20 thousand, aims to improve the health and mobility of citizens through the use of bikes as a supplement to public transportation. The project has set out to achieve four main goals:
- To create a culture favorable towards using bikes as a healthy and efficient alternative to motor vehicles.
- To improve the health and quality of life in urban areas through the reduction of air pollution caused by harmful emissions.
- To improve the current network of bike lanes as well as cycling systems in all future infrastructure.
- To raise public awareness of the negative effects of using automobiles in urban areas rather than utilizing public transportation or non-motorized alternatives.
The Brazilian Bicycle Program will be carried out by state, municipal, and private entities. Infrastructure Projects specialist Felipe Montoro Jens emphasizes that, in order to ensure the project’s success, all involved parties will be subject to independent monitoring. The data they compile will help to quantify the success of the program and ensure that it stays on track.
The oversight will ensure the proper location, quality, and relevance of all the infrastructure involved in the project, including the supporting elements. Some of the planned development for the Brazilian Bicycle Project will include properly marked bike lanes; shared lanes and cycle paths; the construction of bike racks in public transportation terminals; and the installation of app-based bike rental stands along major routes.
Growing environmental concerns have brought overcrowded and polluted cities to the forefront of social consciousness. Improvements in public transportation and alleviation of congestion on crowded city streets are promising areas for significant change. Improving the conditions of urban mobility is an enormous challenge to governments, city planners, and developers, but the need to create sustainable urban centers that are free of harmful emissions, pollutants, and greenhouse gases has prompted governments across the globe to turn their attention to cycling as a means of transportation.
Proponents of the Brazilian Bicycle Program are also quick to point out the other benefits the program will bring beyond reductions in traffic and pollution. For example, it will have a profound effect on public health; rates of obesity and the associated healthcare costs are expected to decline while light exercise and the reduction of traffic promise to reduce stress levels. Overall, the program is expected to dramatically improve Brazilians’ quality of life in medium and large urban areas.
Felipe Montoro Jens sees Brazil as a world leader in renewable energy. From an environmental point of view, he envisions the country moving towards a completely sustainable future. Already, 79% of Brazil’s energy comes from renewable sources, 65% from hydroelectricity alone. The Itaipu Dam on the border of Brazil and Paraguay singlehandedly provides Brazil with 20% of its power while simultaneously powering 75% of Paraguay. This reliance on hydroelectric is a bit precarious, and Jens wants to see the country expand into more biomass, wind, and solar energy to make up the difference. In order to maintain progress towards a sustainable future, the country must diversify. Its current heavy reliance on hydroelectric power puts it at risk of power shortages and uneven development. This is because the locations of current and potential hydroelectric dams are spread throughout the country, leaving large areas with no sustainable energy source without future investment and development. The single source of power also leaves the country extremely vulnerable to drought, the devastating consequences of which were seen in 2015, when the country suffered crippling power outages.
Brazil has sunk huge investment into wind energy in an effort to diversify. Wind bears promise as a practical energy supplement during the dry season when the country’s coastline is subject to sustained gusts. Brazil has grown its wind energy capacity into the largest in Latin America, accounting for at least 70% of the wind energy generated in the entire region; in some areas, up to 84% of the electricity is sourced from wind. Developing wind power is helping Brazil work towards energy security and sustainability; however, Felipe Montoro Jens wants to see more.
Jens is not alone in his vision; the ambitious new solar project by the government of Mozambique caught his attention. Mozambique’s goal is to provide reliable electricity for 2 million people through a PPP by installing individual solar generators on the homes of approximately 300 thousand residents in several districts of the country. The ultimate goal is to offer free energy to all of its citizens by 2030. By no stretch of the imagination is this project anything but ambitious considering that currently, only about 28% of Mozambique’s 29 million people have access to the national power grid.
Jens believes that Mozambique’s push for solar energy is the best option for electrifying the country while at the same time protecting the environment. He is inspired to see the huge potential of solar energy in Brazil’s own push for environmentally-sustainable energy alternatives. Just like Mozambique, Brazil has a patchwork of distant communities that could benefit from a power source that doesn’t require transition over long distances. Solar plants benefit these communities that are far from large urban centers since they don’t require large investments in equipment, transmission lines, and maintenance.
Investing in solar power’s promise of a renewable and virtually inexhaustible source of energy could help Brazil reach its sustainability goals. It could help in the fight against harmful greenhouse gasses because, unlike other energy sources, solar plants do not emit pollutants into the atmosphere. Solar will also make a great supplement to Brazil’s hydroelectric power since solar plants have a lower impact on the surrounding environment, a smaller overall footprint, and very few maintenance requirements. This will help protect Brazil’s valuable open spaces and waterways.
As an admitted perfectionist, Felipe Montoro Jens will likely never stop in his pursuit to help Brazil reach its potential. He has positioned himself as the nation’s first choice for consulting on projects related to the Brazilian economy and infrastructure and will continue to push for new and innovative solutions to solve Brazil’s unique environmental challenges through sustainable and environmentally-friendly infrastructure.