[6] Miranda, R; Grottera, C; Giampietro (2016) “Understanding slums: analysis of the metabolic pattern of the Vidigal favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil”, Environment, Development and Sustainability, Volume 18, (5), pp 1297–1322


This paper illustrates an innovative approach to characterize the metabolic pattern of informal urban settlements or slums with the aim to better understand the factors that affect the material standard of living of slum residents, the dynamics of slum development and the interaction of the slum with its wider socioeconomic context. The proposed system of accounting, multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism (MuSIASEM), integrates socioeconomic and spatial data and studies energy and monetary flows in relation to the pattern of human activities and land uses. The theoretical basis of the approach is illustrated with data from Vidigal favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In particular, we show how to construct taxonomies of accounting categories to characterize: (1) the set of activities carried out by the slum dwellers, to which to link assessments of flow rates per hour; (2) the set of land uses or spatial elements making up the slum, to which to link assessments of flow densities per hectare. The analysis of the interaction of Vidigal with its wider socioeconomic context focuses on monetary flows and transport (job commuting).

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