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Disruption Index: Philip Yang

28/12/2012 | 15h00
By Nate Berg


Philip Yang has narrowed his focus. A former Brazilian diplomat and the founder of a gas and oil company, Yang has gone from global politics and business to looking more carefully at the urban environment of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He recently founded Urbem, a non-profit that aims to channel some of the oil company’s revenues into public sector projects to improve the Sao Paulo public realm. But he’s not just putting his own company’s money into it. Yang is also trying to convince other businesses and industries to recirculate some of their profits back into city projects.


Urbem is particularly focused on neighborhood-level projects, such as parks, sidewalks and bicycle paths. The goal here is to make the city a more humane place while also improving mobility and livability. Urbem is also hoping to bring about larger-scale infrastructure projects to help improve neighborhoods in the city. As a metropolitan area with nearly 20 million people, Sao Paulo gives a wide canvas in which to work. By encouraging businesses in the city to give back, Yang is helping to make the sort of urban scale upgrades the city needs.

Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index. Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.

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