Curitiba contractors get tax incentives when their projects include green areas, but the urban ecological concern goes a lot deeper than that. The city built lakes and parks not only for its citizens' enjoyment, but in order to solve the problem of ongoing floods. Made up of almost 30 parks and urban forests, Curitiba has managed in just 30 years to increase the green space average from one square meter per citizen to 52, and continues to improve.
Curitiba's urban planner and former mayor, Jamie Lerner, sees cities as a solution rather than the problem. As is the case with many cities on this list, the inspiration to take part in green planning can mobilize an entire community, and Curitiba is no exception. The population at large has planted 1.5 million trees along the city's highways since the green program began in earnest, and property taxes can be removed altogether for landowners that maintain 70 to 100 percent native forest as part of their land [source: Gnatek].
A program designed in 1991 to incentivize recycling gives low-income families a way to earn bus tickets and food, by gathering and recycling the city's reusable waste. Seventy percent of Curitiba's waste is now recycled by its citizens using this plan, including the equivalent of 1,200 trees per day in paper recycling. The program results in about 44 tons of food per month going to the 7,000 citizens that need it most.