Fighting Climate Change through Sustainable Transport in Latin America

April 1, 2014


The grant provided technical assistance to more than 11 cities in Latin America to advance approaches for sustainable transport planning and development

Mariana Ceratti / World Bank

This grant helped initiate and sustain high-level and technical dialogue on coordinating transport and climate change policies and plans with a number of Latin American cities. Examples include: a) In São Paulo, the grant supported discussions on urban freight management and city and state plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from transport through policies in freight transport and urban development; b) In Belo Horizonte, the grant activity has influenced the preparation of the municipal climate change law adopted in May 2011; and c) In Rio de Janeiro, the grant supported the development of a monitoring strategy for greenhouse gas emissions and tools.


The transportation sector is currently responsible for more than one-third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Latin America, and is the fastest growing sector. The International Energy Agency projects that worldwide CO2 emissions from vehicles will increase by a factor of 2.4 (or 140%) from about 4.6 gigatons in 2000 to 11.2 in 2050. Urban transport represents a key sector for long-run greenhouse gas mitigation efforts.

Latin American cities are rapidly growing and about 80% of the people currently live in urban areas concentrating most of the vehicle kilometers of travel. The increasing use of motor vehicles not only generates additional emissions (principally CO2), but also results in growing air pollution and associated health impacts, increased congestion, more accidents and reduced competitiveness of cities.


To mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, it is important to mainstream environmental concerns into sector policies, programs, and investments. This grant aimed to provide technical assistance to regional policy makers in generating, integrating, disseminating and monitoring high-level knowledge on reducing greenhouse gases, while laying the groundwork for practical and integrated solutions to sustainable urban development and transport mobility.


The grant provided technical assistance to more than 11 cities in Latin America to advance approaches for sustainable transport planning and development. A Regional Conference was held in Rosario, Argentina that hosted well over 100 experts and representatives, and resulted in a “Declaration on Urban Accessibility and Sustainable Mobility Principles.” 

The grant financed several activities, reports and knowledge generation instruments.  These include:

  • An expert meeting on transport and the environment
  • Workshop and tools on integrating land use transport modeling and monitoring strategy on climate change plans and progress
  • Development of a Pilot Integrated Low Carbon Municipal or Metropolitan Strategy
  • Regional Sustainable Urban Transport Flagship Workshop
  • Follow-up clinics on transport and urban planning integration in Mexico and Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil
  • Development of a website as a repository of all knowledge produced. 

Bank Group Contribution

The engagement was financed through a US$500,000 grant from the Spanish Fund for Latin America (SFLAC) and administered by the World Bank. This was linked to the existing Regional and Country-level Global Environment Facility (GEF) Sustainable Transport and Air Quality (STAQ) Projects in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, which allowed the Bank team to more easily monitor the need and impact of the grant activities, and adjust as necessary.


The Clean Air Institute for Latin America (CAI) served as the primary partner through Global Environment Facility Program to plan and implement the activities which helped the Bank team initiate and sustain a high-level and technical dialogue with a number of cities in Latin America.

Moving Forward

The programs and network supported by this grant will continue to be supported by CAI and other partners. The immediate opportunity for follow-up will be through Bank operations in one or more of the cities that were beneficiaries of the GEF program.

For example, a Development Policy Loan on urban development is under discussion with the City of Belo Horizonte.  The approach and activities of this grant could be replicated in a different region or group of cities, or for a similar cross-cutting theme.


Experts from the climate and transport sectors who took part in this engagement benefitted from enhanced technical knowledge and a more coordinated network of practitioners. Citizens from the target cities will also benefit from environmental and transport benefits resulting from a unified strategic approach in both sectors.