“The Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative is very important because we, the Mayors, are the first and the most relevant ones to unravel the inequalities in our societies. As a Mayor, I have engaged with local communities and civil society to tackle poverty and fight social inequalities, and developed several programmes to help the low-income families.”
– Mayor Ricardo Rio
Ricardo Rio has been the Mayor of Braga, the third largest city of Portugal, since 2013. He was first elected to public office in 2005 as a City Councilman and City Assemblyman of Braga Municipality. He was also President of the Social Democratic Party of Braga and a member of the Social Democratic Party’s National Political Committee.
He is a leading politician in Portugal and is currently the President of Galicia-North of Portugal Euroregion, and the President of the Intermunicipality Community of Cavado. He is also a Member of the Committee of the Regions of European Union, the Daily Board of Global Parliament of Mayors and the Executive Committee of EUROCITIES.
Prior to being elected, he had a career in the private sector and was the General Secretary of the Portuguese Association of Financial Analysts and the Director at Euronext Lisbon, a Capital Market Institute. He also worked as a consultant in business and governance with several leading Portuguese companies and public institutions.
To fight discrimination against Roma communities, the municipality of Braga developed a set of practices in line with its Integrated Plan of Action for Disadvantaged Communities. The different projects focus on reducing school absenteeism, developing skills and self-confidence through multidisciplinary artistic activities and fostering better understanding of Roma culture. The projects also create links with the rest of the population to reduce fear and prejudice. In 2019, the city hosted the Eurocities Roma Community Integration Working Group to continue developing with experts an effective integrated city plan for Roma inclusion in Braga.
The city of Braga has been at the forefront of developing social and innovative solutions aimed at ensuring the economic wellbeing of its citizens, while also protecting their health. One example of the way the city’s administration has been handling the economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic is its approach to public transport in the city. To ease the financial burden on residents suffering from reduced income, resulting from the pandemic, travel on the city’s buses was made free of charge for two months. To continue to support residents, following the reintroduction of transport charges, the City of Braga has introduced reduced cost travel passes (50% of the usual cost) for unemployed residents.
Braga is leading the way in Portugal with regards to renewable energy. 80% of Braga’s electricity comes from renewable sources, compared the around 56% across the country. Thanks to the consistent use of renewables, the city has earned itself a spot in the top 100 greenest cities list on a worldwide scale made by CDP – a non-profit organisation that collects environmental data from around the world. Much of the city’s success can be attributed to the ambitious green policies implemented by its government. The city installed solar panels on the roofs of all the city’s primary schools, and electric buses are being introduced to replace conventional ones.