Rio tackled climate change head-on during its colorful opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympic Games. While riddled with massive environmental challenges, the Brazilians decided to take a stand for climate action in a way that larger countries might never have done.
Approximately 3.3 billion people worldwide witnessed the bold statement about rising temperatures, melting polar ice caps, carbon emissions, and the urgent need for unified climate action on a global scale. The message was clear—no one is exempt from the effects of climate change, and no one can sit on the side-lines. The missive, meant to be a unifying, rallying call to action, caught the attention of viewers around the world and sparked important international dialogue.
Between its environmental issues, Zika outbreak, transportation issues, shoddy construction, organized crime, displacement of impoverished favela residents, political turmoil, and economic uncertainty, Rio has certainly faced an uphill battle to make a favorable impression and enhance its image on the global stage.
Rio Mayor, Eduardo Paes , deserve some credit for the improvements that he has facilitated since his election in 2008. While still a long way from remediating its once pristine environment, Brazil certainly demands respect for a successful attempt to bring the pressing need for climate action to the forefront of international dialogue. I hope that more countries have the courage and take the initiative do to the same when given a similar opportunity.