Coordinating climate action between the national and the local level

Coordinating climate action between the national and the local level

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Date: 9th September 2015
Author: CDKN Global
Type: Feature
Tags: LEDS Global Partnership, LEDS LAC, low emission development strategies, urban development

Scott A. Muller, co-chair of the Sub-national Integration Working Group of the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP) looks at how integrating and coordinating national and subnational initiatives can scale up sustainable urban transportation initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean. His report follows a technical workshop in Lima, Peru from the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Platform of LEDS Global Partnership.

At the national scale, climate action plans and mitigation targets are increasingly being formalised and implemented across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Already, the countries of Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, and Brasil have either submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)— or they are in an advanced draft form.

At the subnational level, LAC is the most urbanised region in the world. On top of that, the cities are physically expanding three times faster than their population growth. Urban landscapes are rapidly swelling beyond traditional administrative borders, with private vehicle use more than doubling in the past 10 years. The 4.5% rate of motorisation (cars per person) in LAC is among the fastest growing in the world. As expected, severe traffic congestion is widespread across LAC cities.

This is just a small slice of the contextual backdrop for the recent technical workshop held in Lima, Peru, to address the challenges and opportunities of linking national and subnational government policies to implement and scale-up sustainable urban transportation initiatives in the region. This was an initiative of the LEDS LAC regional platform of the Low Emissions Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP), hosted in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment of Peru (MINAM).

National and municipal government transportation officials, along with technical experts and multilateral finance organisations, gathered to share experiences and lessons learned, and to articulate a shared vision. The two days of discussions produced very useful guidelines for integrating national and subnational low carbon urban transportation policies and financing in the region.

Ms. Claudia Figallo of the Ministry of Environment of Peru opened the discussions, commenting on the challenges at hand: “It’s necessary to overcome certain limitations that local governments are facing in regards to technical capacities, access to financing, governance of large metropolitan areas and the design of long term policies.”

The workshop covered the themes of policy and planning; institutional qualities and capacities; MRV and information systems; and financing. The priority themes that emerged related to the design and implementation of coordination mechanisms between national and subnational governments, how to ensure public participation at different levels throughout the planning process, producing designs that prioritise the needs of the users of the transport systems, integrated planning to avoid and reduce trips, innovative finance mechanisms, promoting new clean technologies like electric busses and more.

During the discussions, Rodrigo Rodriguez Tornquist—one of the workshop’s moderators, shared an important insight: the emergence of the need for climate action planning coincides with mounting trends of unsustainable growth, and the commensurate challenges of institutional capacities, planning, financing needs, and new information demands (improved monitoring, etc). There are many synergies to unlock by improving coordination between national and subnational transportation policies.

Officials from the transport sector in Argentina shared the challenges that led to the creation of the inter-jurisdictional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ATM) in 2012 in Buenos Aires. Stretching across 2,400 km2 and hosting over 22,700,000 daily trips, the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires contains a transportation system with a collection of more than 340 collective bus routes, administrated by municipal, provincial and national jurisdictions. It also contains a 7-line network of metropolitan railroads under national jurisdiction, 6 subways under the jurisdiction of the City of Buenos Aires, and taxis and buses under both municipal districts and metropolitan jurisdictions.

With no clear institutional boundaries, the collective system was characterised by wide differences in service quality, no coordination of transport schedules or fees, as well as mounting security and accessibility challenges. As an inter-jurisdictional consultative organisation for coordinating and planning urban transport and infrastructure in Buenos Aires, the ATM is taking initial steps and realising interdisciplinary meetings to define common policies and facilitate the physical, operational and financial integration and coordination of the previously disparate urban transport modalities. The innovative process seeks to build trust, cooperation and consensus for a long-term vision of efficient, equitable, low carbon urban mobility.

Participants shared several additional practical experiences from the region that have resulted in increased system efficiencies, reduced carbon emissions, improved air quality, integrated tariff structures, better investment of public resources in infrastructure, increased equitable access to public transportation, and streamlined administrative procedures.

Results from the practical discussions are being synthesised to produce a comprehensive report that will be presented for discussion at the next LEDS LAC annual meeting this Oct 12-13 in the Dominican Republic (registration information available through the link). We welcome your participation in this evolving programme of work.


For more information, please contact:

Aida Figari
Secretariat, LEDS LAC

Rodrigo Rodriquez Tornquist
Transport Working Group, LEDS GP

Scott A. Muller
Sub-national Integration Working Group, LEDS GP

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