Rio De Janeiro

South American City Vulnerable to Landslides and Flooding

Language Portuguese
September 15, 2011 7 p.m. local time

© 2010 WikiCommons/Artyominc/Piisamson cc by sa 3.0

The second largest city in Brazil, Rio sits on the country’s Atlantic Coast and boasts 50 kilometers of beaches. Flanked by mountains, it’s no surprise Rio is known by many as the cidade maravilhosa — which means the marvelous city.

© 2010 Agencia Brasil/Antônio Cruz

Rio currently experiences extreme flooding and landslides roughly every 20 years. In January of this year, more than 900 people were killed when extremely heavy rains in the mountains of Rio triggered mudslides that caused widespread property and infrastructure damage. While climate change may bring decreases in precipitation in winter and spring, the increased severity of storms could mean that flooding and landslides on coasts and sea cliffs may get worse.


As a young boy, Roberto Vámos noticed the forest vanishing from the mountainous landscape in his native state of Rio de Janeiro. This experience prompted him to study environmental policy and dedicate himself to creating a culture of sustainability in the business community. Roberto helps facilitate the “greening” of large-scale events, such as the 2007 Live Earth concert at Copacabana Beach. In addition to his work Brasil S, a sustainability consulting company, he is also the Director of Content for the Global Sustainability Forum, an annual event in the Amazon Rainforest that brings together business and political leaders to discuss and implement sustainability practices.