The world’s largest multilateral development banks (MDBs), including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank, are pledging to provide $175 billion over the next ten years to support sustainable transport in the developing world.
The MDBs, which include the African Development Bank, CAF- Development Bank of Latin America, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, made the announcement at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil.
“Rapid motorization is creating more congestion, air pollution, traffic accidents and greenhouse gas emissions – especially in developing countries,” said ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda, speaking on behalf of the MDBs in Rio de Janeiro. “Developing countries have the opportunity to leapfrog to a greener future of less motorization, shorter commutes and more energy efficient transport systems.”
The world’s population, which is now over seven billion, is expected to pass nine billion in 2050 with around 80% of that residing in urban areas. Meanwhile, vehicle ownership is expected to increase dramatically to reach some two billion in 2030.
That rise could increase CO2 emissions from the transport sector by nearly 50% by 2030, unless dramatic changes are adopted.
“We [will] need better urban designs; more sustainable transportation modes, like walking, biking and mass transit; and improvements in existing vehicle and fuel technology,” says Holger Dalkmann, director of EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute’s centre for sustainable transport.
Despite the importance of the transport sector, which both contributes to the GDP of most countries, it has been largely ignored in the sustainable development agenda.
“This is a game changer for sustainable transport,” commented Dalkmann. “Ten years ago transportation wasn’t even in the discussion; now it’s a major outcome from the world’s preeminent conference on sustainable development.”
But he warns that governments must be smarter than just to invest in new highways, instead creating safer infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and building high-tech, low-cost transit systems.
The ADB is already supporting such initiatives, like low-cost electric vehicles in the Philippines, urban metrorail systems in Viet Nam, bus systems in Mongolia and Bangladesh and transport on inland waterways in China.
For further information:
“Gaping holes” in Rio+20 draft deal, say environmental groups (21-Jun)
UN launches sustainable cities initiative (20-Jun)
Political and business leaders call for action to save climate and economy (19-Jun)
21 June 2012