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Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Sustainable Logistics (MDTF-SL)


A truck mechanic works at the port of Tema in Ghana.

Jonathan Ernst/World Bank

Logistics – the services, knowledge, and infrastructure that allow for the free movement of goods and people – is now recognized as a key driver of competitiveness and economic development. Efficient logistics systems are a precondition for regions, countries, cities, and businesses to participate in the global economy, boost growth, and improve livelihoods. Policy making has turned its attention to sustainable growth paths, valuing scarce resources, minimizing environmental impacts, and allowing economies to prosper across generations. In this new integrated vision of development, sustainable logistics is a key nexus.  

To improve sustainable logistics practices in the developing world, private sector technologies and innovations, as well as governmental policies and academic knowledge, need to be brought together. The government of the Netherlands and the World Bank have taken a first step in this direction and established the first Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Sustainable Logistics (MDTF-SL) in September 2013.  


The MDTF-SL funds activities on strategic themes in sustainable logistics that benefit low income and developing countries.  

Studies, methodologies, and tools generated by this initiative will guide developing country governments, rural producers, private agents, and donors to put in motion processes for strengthening logistics in three thematic areas or pillars: supply chains, agro-logistics, and urban distribution and port-city development. 

Knowledge will be consolidated into a virtual knowledge portal and supported by a network of practitioners, academics and business professionals at the forefront of the sustainable logistics field. Through these activities, the MDTF-SL will break ground by exploring innovative ideas that deliver practical solutions, methodologies and approaches in Sustainable Logistics. 

Launch Conference and Key Focus Areas

The official launch of the MDTF-SL took place Feb. 5-6, 2014, in The Hague. The conference (speech by Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen) brought together leading logistics practitioners from the public and private sectors as well as academia to discuss potential areas of intervention within the MDTF-SL’s three key focus areas.  

A series of short papers informed these discussions based on the following outlines of each focus area, or pillar:

Pillar I: Green Supply Chains

The goal of this pillar is to support activities in low-income and developing countries that contribute to the development of transport corridors and logistics services, while minimizing the carbon footprint and greenhouse gases associated with the delivery of goods.

By allowing for trade patterns and product value chains to be built sustainably, the "greening" of supply chains can improve the competitive positioning of developing country exports, particularly in industries and production value-chains monitored for their carbon footprints. 

Pillar II: Agro-Logistics 

Activities financed will assist developing countries to strengthen food security programs and improve the competitiveness of agricultural exports by sustainably reducing logistics costs, and expanding market access for rural producers.

Studies, methodologies and tools developed under the agro-logistics pillar will assist governments, agricultural producers, distributors and other private agents to increase the efficiency of supply chains, improve the traceability and profitability of "green goods" and reduce food waste and other logistics costs. 

Pillar III: Urban Logistics

The goal of this pillar is to finance activities that will assist developing countries in two areas: addressing urban congestion resulting from retail distribution of goods and improving the sustainable design and operation of port cities. 

Activities under this pillar will concentrate on reducing congestion and pollution by focusing on the efficient distribution of goods in urban environments. Additional emphasis will be placed on the urban planning tools and investments required for port cites to address sustainability issues endemic to densely populated economies serving as either a local or regional transport hubs. 


Contact the Sustainable Logistics Management Team 

Baher El-Hifnawi, MDTF-SL Program Manager

Darwin Marcelo, Coordinator of the MDTF –SL