Maurie Carr, project coordinator for the Global Environment and Technology Foundation, a Washington DC-based non-profit, stayed a week at a retreat a short drive up into the mountains from Duque de Caxias, a poor bedroom community neighboring Rio de Janeiro. Some mornings it took her three hours to reach the convention center. “It was a lesson learning to just let it go,” she said, adding that despite everything she intends to return. “I told my mother to put Rio on the list,” she said, having managed to sneak in some hiking, plus visits to Leblon, Ipanema, Rocinha, and Vidigal.
The conference also underscored just how much ground Rio de Janeiro itself has to cover when it comes to environmental sustainability. A minuscule amount of trash is recycled, and Guanabara Bay, for example, is horrendously polluted despite millions of dollars having been devoted to a cleanup. At least Eike Batista’s Grupo EBX has been taking 250 kilos of trash out of the Rodrigo de Freitas lake every day.
All in all, much of Rio + 20 didn’t augur well for the Pope’s visit next year, the 2014 World Cup games in Rio, nor the 2016 Olympics. But the situation could change when new mass transportation options are to come online, in addition to the Transoeste articulated bus lane that opened earlier this month.