Latin America is the highest urbanized region of the developing world, and most of the region’s income is generated in the main urban centers. Cities are experiencing increasing transport needs, sustained population growth, and struggle to maintain economic productivity, adequate infrastructure and urban services to improve quality of life. Urban sprawl, increasing motorization, and lack of adequate public transportation infrastructure are serious issues, causing air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and public health damage, among other impacts. Further, cities are losing much needed economic competitiveness due to productivity losses associated to health impairment, congestion, traffic, noise and quality of life deterioration, associated with deficient transport services. Linking all these elements in a virtuous circle could happen if a broader approach is followed towards sustainable transportation systems in cities in the region, taking advantage of new and old elements that add value to the transport sector. This conference is all about making that value chain more sustainable, equitable and profitable.
In addition to these problems, institutions in Latin American cities face severe barriers, including insufficient staff capacity, lack of an adequate framework to engage much required sustainable private investments in the transport sector, as well as tools and guidance to support policy and planning. Transport investments are indeed needed in the LAC region; however, currently there is a limited approach on how to introduce practices that maximize benefits of more sustainable approaches. These approaches include a wider vision of transport systems that captures other benefits that substantially improve the rate of return of investments, including carbon and clean tech finance, health costs associated with air pollution, as well as increasing property values and the densification of otherwise abandoned areas, and last but not least, congestion, urban renewal and tax income.
In this context, Latin American and the Caribbean cities call for supporting them in transitioning to more sustainable transportation systems. This transition can be speeded up by better understanding the role climate change and air quality can take in improving the return of investments, reduce operations risks, and engage with the private sector in catalyzing more innovative transport interventions. Cities may also find opportunities to improve profitability of investments by maximizing the economic and social benefits of better use of carbon finance instruments, in addition to environmental improvements that reduce costs associated with public health damage, and improve life quality and better land use stewardship. To do so, this conference aims to equip attendees with project and program evaluation methodologies and assessments, studies, and other tools necessary to implement sustainable transport strategies.