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At the early age of 15, Tania Braga already wanted to build a more sustainable future for the planet. Today, with a professional career of more than 20 years, the Rio 2016 Committee Head of Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy helps adopting the “sustainable mindset” in all the Games planning. She graduated in Economics, holds a Masters in Environmental Science from USP (University of São Paulo) and a Doctorate in Applied Economics from Unicamp (University of Campinas). She draws a panorama of the area and explains: “For us, Games-time is now”.
Her family is from the state of Minas Gerais and her mission in the Rio 2016 Organising Committee is to turn the Olympic and Paralympic Games into an example for everyone. Check out her interview:
Rio 2016: Apart from the Games, how important is sport in your life?
Tânia Braga:As a child, I used to practice Artistic Gymnastics and I’m still passionate about the sport. At present, I swim.
Rio 2016: How did you first get involved with the issues that are part of your work today?
TB:It all started at the age of 15, participating in environmental social movements. I worked with environmental education initiatives in voluntary groups.
Rio 2016: What motivated you to volunteer in social projects?
TB:It’s simply a matter of feeling responsible for doing something meaningful to promote the transformations we need in order to live in a sustainable future. We must think in the long term, more than simply focus on what we’re doing now. I believe this has always been what I was looking for: helping people to think in the long term effect of what everyone does.
Rio 2016: And how about after graduating?
TB:Once I graduated, I worked professionally for environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Later, I worked as university lecturer and government consultant, always in the interface between sustainability and urban planning.
Rio 2016: How did the Rio 2016 Games cross your path?
TB:I had been living abroad for six years, working in Switzerland for a foundation called the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS in French). This foundation was created by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) together with six Swiss universities with the aim of acting as a bridge between sport and science. There, I was responsible for the sustainability area and I lectured for the Masters programme in Sports Management. I already helped people think about ways to integrate sustainability with the activities in sporting events, searching for a base of scientific knowledge and bringing this support to the dialogue between sport and science. Then, I returned to Brazil in March 2012 to work for the Committee.
Rio 2016: What is your team’s main mission in the Organising Committee?
TB:My team’s goal is to contribute to the effort of integrating sustainability in all aspects of Games planning. It’s important to say the Games do not have a separate sustainability programme; the Games are planned in a sustainable way. Our main goal is the presence of environmental, social and economic responsibility everywhere. Therefore the sustainability area is part of the planning department.
Rio 2016: In the Committee, your area is made of Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy. How is this division made?
TB: We understand these issues go together. Sustainability is the way of doing things; legacy is the result we get later. In order to be sustainable, things have to last. Therefore, the connection with legacy is really immediate. Accessibility is another very important aspect and, for Rio de Janeiro, it’s also an undeniable form of legacy. We have a whole chapter dedicated to accessibility in the Sustainability Management Plan.
Rio 2016: How was the Sustainability Management Plan developed?
TB: The Sustainability Management Plan is fruit of cooperation, the work of various hands, in partnership with the three levels of government. It’s valid for the Games as a whole, and goes beyond the Committee’s performance. It defines all the Games’ sustainability guidelines and principles based on the three pillars - planet, people and prosperity. For instance, a great innovation in this edition of the Games is the way we’ll work with the whole production chain, contributing to improve the industry’s sustainability as well as services standards in Brazil.
Rio 2016: What are the changes during the Games?
TB:Our Games-time is now. Especially this and next year because it’s during this time that decisions are being made. When we deliver the Games, in 2016, our work will basically consist of monitoring and following up to see that everything is according to plan and if there is any need to adjust the paths. We’ll also have an important role in preventing accidents and environmental emergencies.
Rio 2016: What kind of message Rio 2016 would like to pass in relation to sustainability?
TB: Many people believe sustainability to be only about environmental issues. Sustainable thinking means looking for the balance between environmental, social and economic aspects in all our decisions. Another important message is that sustainability does not include additional costs. In case it’s integrated from the beginning, it helps being more efficient and then it reduces costs. Sustainable thinking means doing things better while using fewer resources and bringing positive benefits to people. We need to set the example, to serve as an inspiration to the billions of people that will follow our edition of the Games.