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Letter from the editor | 83

Harsh indicators, urgent actions

The richest city in Latin America has 10.4 million inhabitants. Close to 1.5 million of these enjoy a desirable standard of living, and a little more than 8.9 million people live below this standard. And what is worse: life quality in the city of São Paulo has worsened in the last ten years. Putting it into figures: today, there are 1 million more people in the underclass than in 1992, in this gigantic human agglomerate called São Paulo.

In 76 of the city’s 96 districts, the lack of adequate planning has deepened the inequalities, which were already enormous. And the social disparities are translated into a deficit of places in day care centers, hospitals, schools, and in a growing rate of homicides in some neighborhoods. All this mean social topography is unveiled in a valuable support for effective public policies: the Map of Social Exclusion/Inclusion of the City of São Paulo, the subject of this issue’s cover story, by editor Claudia Izique, starting on page 14. Built up using data from the IBGE and with a methodology for analysis that is now being exported to other Brazilian municipalities, the map is actually, the product of greatest prominence of a wider project – Social Dynamics, Environmental Quality and Intra-Urban Spaces in São Paulo: a Socio-Spatial Analysis -, developed by a multidisciplinary group of researchers and supported by FAPESP’s Public Policies program.

It would be very good if the research activity always resulted in good news. But this does not happen. With a certain frequency, in various ambits, and not only in the social one, it leads to worrying indicators. This is what we find in the story in a comprehensive project about salt water fishing in Brazil (starting on page 32), financed by the federal government, which contended for the cover story of this issue. In the text, reporter Marcos Pivetta reports that the initial data from the research, which will extend over the whole year of 2003, indicate that the marine resources in Brazilian waters, the target for systematic fishing in an industrial or rudimentary manner, are at their maximum limit for economic exploitation, when they have not gone beyond this point. This is bad. But there is always, of course, a positive side in the indicators, or, more simply, in the conscious contact with reality, which is the implicit proposal for action that it entails. In this particular case, there is an action forecast that should follow the mapping: with the new knowledge of the fishing potential of the Brazilian coastal waters, the government intends to resize and redirect, whenever necessary, the effort of catching marine beings within an area of the ocean that is equivalent to a little more than 40% of the country’s continental territory. In other words, as Pivetta says, the intention is to define what, how much, where, when and how to fish in the enormous marine strip under Brazil’s jurisdiction, without this becoming a predatory practice.

Perhaps the abundance of waters in this issue is an indirect influence of the summer. We go back to them in the Technology section, where assistant editor Dinorah Ereno tells in detail how an integrated system for managing reservoirs and dams, capable of reconciling the several uses of the reservoirs, such as the generation of electricity, irrigation, navigation, fishing, fish breeding and recreation (starting on page 64). Carried out by a group of researchers from São Paulo, with international consultancy, the system can also foresee future scenarios; it works not only with the dam where it is used, but the whole river basin in which it is located. It is already being used in the country, and is starting to attract partnerships from abroad. This means that the investment made in the project, under the Small Business Innovation Research (PIPE) Program, is making it possible to convert knowledge into wealth – which is always desirable in technological research.

And to conclude the reading of this issue with an esthetic pleasure, it is worth highlighting the article by Débora Crivellaro, beginning on page 82, on a pioneer study that analyzes the work of German engraver on wood Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), belonging to the collection of the National Library in Rio de Janeiro.