Wilson Passeto

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007
Agua e Cidade


This profile was prepared when Wilson Passeto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
In response to the growing threat of water shortage in Brazil's burgeoning cities, Wilson has instituted a number of incentives and support services to promote changes in individuals' water consumption, both at home and at the workplace. With more than 20 years’ experience working as a hydraulic engineer in the private and public sector, he is well aware of both the obstacles and the opportunities when it comes to changing the way Brazilian society approaches water consumption.
Wilson begins by training what he calls “water agents”: Employees and community members equipped with the knowledge and tools to combat water wastage in their homes and offices. These agents then teach what they’ve learned, along with the practical how-to strategies for reducing consumption, to their families and communities. He provides each newly empower water agent–and the institution that supports them–with technological tools, consulting services, and a supportive community. Each organization–be it private, public, or government-related–is then offered a platform for sharing best practices, and an incentive scheme to reward the most innovative water management projects.
Encouraging people to change their behavior, however, requires that they have access to the basic infrastructure and appropriate technologies needed to do so. To this end, Wilson is helping to design and market technological innovations aimed at improving efficiency and reducing waste. In partnership with one of the world's biggest water distributors, he helped to institute individual water measurement systems in commercial and residential buildings. To date, he has helped train more than 1,600 teachers and instituted new water-related teaching materials in more than 220 schools throughout a number of Brazil's major cities. He is currently adapting his training program to tailor directly to the needs of particular urban industries, and is launching a pilot program Costa Rica.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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