Development Banks Announce "Game Changer" for Sustainable Transport at Rio+20

One of the buses on Rio's new Transoeste BRT line. Photo by Mariana Gil / EMBARQ Brazil.

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The world’s largest multi-lateral development banks — led by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and others — committed to provide more than $175 billion over 10 years to support sustainable transport in developing countries.

The announcement was made at the UN Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20) by the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, CAF- Development Bank of Latin America, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank.

Following is a statement from Holger Dalkmann, director of EMBARQ (the producer of this blog):

“This is a game changer for sustainable transport. It will ensure that hundreds of millions of people will have cleaner air, less congested roads, and safer transportation.

“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.

“Banks are putting their money where it matters — on streets built for people, not just cars. The world’s population is expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050, with more than half living in Asia, mostly in urban areas. At the same time, the rate of vehicle ownership is predicted to skyrocket from around 800 million cars a decade ago to around 2 billion in 2030. These two mega-trends are coming together to create an environment where people must compete for financial, institutional, and physical resources. In response, we need better urban designs; more sustainable transportation modes, like walking, biking and mass transit; and improvements in existing vehicle and fuel technology.

“This investment is not just about improving the way people move from point A to point B; it’s also about providing access and mobility for the poor and improving road safety, not to mention reducing transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. Transport is no small piece of the climate change pie: the sector represents approximately one-quarter of global CO2 emissions.

“Today’s announcement will no doubt encourage other decision-makers, especially national governments, to consider financing transport projects based on social and environmental benefits. It will push sustainability into the core of urban development.

“At the same time, we need to make sure that the money gets invested into the right kind of projects, and that there are sound mechanisms to measure its impact. This will require full transparency and independent monitoring.

“Countries often invest in transportation and infrastructure, but much of that goes into highways. We need to be smarter about where money flows, whether that means creating vibrant public spaces, providing safer infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, or building high-tech, low-cost transit systems. Doing this would be a paradigm shift in the way we finance the growth of sustainable cities, similar to what the Asian Development Bank has done with its Sustainable Transport Initiative, a lending and technical assistance program for transport projects in Asia and the Pacific that emphasizes inclusive economic and environmentally sustainable growth.

EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute’s center for sustainable transport, is a founding member of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport, which helped to catalyze this new financial commitment by the banks.

“Years from now, we may look back at Rio+20 as the moment when transport was pushed to the top of the sustainability agenda.”

For more information on EMBARQ, visit:

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