In early 2005, the Municipal Secretariat for Environment suggested giving the City of Sao Paulo an Open University for Environment and Culture of Peace, to broaden sensitivity and enable the society to deal properly with the benefits and risks inherent to social and environmental relations within the City. Its creation is also justified by the importance of developing instruments for an active partnership between government and civil society, thus promoting sustainability and peace in Sao Paulo.
The vision of UMAPAZ is one of a public network institution which is, simultaneously, a gathering and empowering element for already existing initiatives and an anchor for public spread of information, knowledge and experience on environmental education and for peace in the City.
The mayor sanctioned the idea of establishing, in Sao Paulo, the Open University for Environment and Culture of Peace – UMAPAZ – and he also assigned a building at the Ibirapuera Park as its headquarters.
Our basic proposal was presented and approved by CADES (the Environment and Sustainable Development Council of the Municipal Secretariat for Environment) on July 28th, 2005.
The development of the UMAPAZ proposition took into account other experiences of Open Universities in Brazil and around the world, which complete or substitute formal teaching institutions, such as Unilivre – Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente in Curitiba (Brazil); Universidad Libre del Ambiente, in Córdoba (Argentina), UPEACE in Costa Rica, Universidad Libre de Cataluña (Spain) and Schumacher College, in England.
After the approval of the basic project, the detailed concept of UMAPAZ was constructed in a participative manner by 60 people, 30 from the Municipal Secretariat for Environment and 30 from other institutions, gathering various specialties and experiences. They participated at the planning process from September to November, 2005.
Ever since its creation, UMAPAZ intends to be a network organization, operating through a web of partnerships with institutions that develop similar activities. Pioneer partners such as UPeace, Unesco, Palas Athena Association, MonteAzul Association, Gaia Education, Ecobairro and Ecovilasp groups, Migliori Institute, IPaz e Ação pela Paz network and other partners also integrate its activities to the programme.
In January 2009, as a result of the Municipal Law that reorganized de Secretariat for Environment, UMAPAZ became the Environmental Education Department of the Secretariat, resposible for the Formation Division, established in 2006, as well as the Municipal Gardening School, the Municipal Astrophisics School, the Planetaries (Ibirapuera and Carmo) and the A3P Programme.