Carlos Richa, former mayor of Curitiba and 2006 World Mayor finalist

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Carlos Richa
mayor of Curitiba
By Andrew Stevens and Janaina Arruda

27 October 2008: Curitiba is the capital of Parana state in southern Brazil, a city renowned for its higher than average per capita income and innovative approach to planning and public transportation. First elected in 2004, Carlos Richa is one of several city mayors from the diverse immigrant community in the state capital and represents the centrist Brazilian Party of Social Democracy (PSDB). Mayor Carlos Richa has been shortlisted for the 2010 World Mayor Prize.

Update June 2010: Carlos Richa has resigned to run for state governor of Parana. The new mayor is Luciano Ducci .

Born in Londrina in 1965 and of Lebanese migrant descent, Richa hails from a political family as his father served as Mayor of Londrina then Governor of Parana state between 1983 and 1986, during the crucial time for the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Because of his father’s political career as a mayor, state governor then federal senator, he spent his early childhood in Brasilia. He then graduated from the Bom Jesus High School in Curitiba and attended the Catholic University of Parana, where he studied civil engineering.

Richa Jr (or ‘Beto’) entered political life aged 29 in 1994 when he became a deputy for the state of Parana and was re-elected in 1998, doubling his votes. During this time he was able to seek reparations for the families of those imprisoned under the military dictatorship and to legislate for increased public security for those using banks. In 2000 he was chosen as the vice mayoral candidate in Curitiba for the campaign of Cassio Taniguchi, who hailed from the city’s Japanese migrant community. Elected as vice mayor, he was made responsible for public works under Mayor Taniguchi’s internationally recognised administration.

For the 2002 state elections he ran, unsuccessfully, as the PSDB's candidate for governor of Parana, but then resumed the vice mayoralty. Two years later, in the mid-term elections that saw the governing Workers' Party (PT) routed across Brazil, Beto Richa was elected Mayor of Curitiba aged 39.  In 2008 he was re-elected with a massive 77 per cent of the vote.

Richa governs under the holistic belief that “We’ll be making a better country every time we make our cities better.” Though already picking up plaudits for his administration, Richa is following the pattern set by his predecessors. In 1996 the Habitat II conference of the UN praised Curitiba as the “most innovative city in the world”.

A decade later, Curitiba hosted the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties on the Convention on Biodiversity, confirming the city’s drive to improve its standing internationally. The most immediate challenge facing the city and its administration is increasing capacity on its innovative but ageing public transport system. Recently Mayor Richa gave the go ahead for the constructing of a two-line light rail transit system to relieve congestion on the city’s busiest bus routes. His discounted ticket scheme to increase bus travel has already been copied by a number of other cities. He has already introduced sweeping changes to the financial reporting system of his administration to the city council, opening up inspection of the budget on a year-round basis and allowing citizens an input.

Mayor Richa is married with three children.

World Mayor 2023