Jaime Lerner was born in 1937 in Brazil, to a family originally from Poland. During the 1960s, he obtained his diploma in architecture at the Federal University of Paraná and soon became worried as he watched his town, Curitaba, undergoing rapid urban development. He set up various initiatives to influence decision-making officials, including the Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano, an urban planning and research institute, which supported preservation of the historical district and improved traffic control.
In 1971, Jaime Lerner was elected mayor of Curitiba. He rapidly surrounded himself with creative and innovative people and put forward ideas that gained popular support. His goal was to promote the city’s development without neglecting environmental and social factors. He was re-elected mayor twice, in 1979 and again in 1989. The city’s efficient public transit network, ingenious waste management system and green spaces preservation program are all legacies of the Lerner era.