Gator Halpern, MEM

2014 TRI Fellow in Brazil

The fallout of the festivities: the social implications of mega-event development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This summer I was able to live amidst the buzz of Rio de Janeiro, which was at a high-pitched crescendo due to the FIFA World Cup.  Thanks to the generosity of the Tropical Resources Institute, I spent ten weeks researching the impact that hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics is having on communities in Rio.

My research led me to many interesting and often unseen corners of Rio de Janeiro in order to gain a better perspective on how the World Cup and Olympics are affecting these stakeholders. I was able to work in a number of different favelas, interviewing residents and community leaders about the changes occurring in their communities.  I also intermingled with some high-society figures who have been pulling the strings to make these mega-events happen.  Additionally, I was able to participate on a BBC World Report radio broadcast, during which I interviewed the Vice President of FIFA.

In total, I spent time in six different communities in Rio, conducting semi-structured interviews through contacts made while working with local NGOs.  Survey participants ranged widely across the social spectrum, and the mega-events have already affected them in very different ways.  In addition to the semi-structured interviews, I was able to personally observe some of the striking changes that have been occurring in these communities, and casually converse with dozens of residents about the recent urban development in Rio, which is occurring at an unprecedented rate.