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NEW YORK — The eight largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) announced today at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that they will invest $175 billion in sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade.
“These unprecedented commitments have the promise to save hundreds of thousands of lives by cleaning the air and making roads safer; cutting congestion in hundreds of cities; and reducing the contribution of transportation to harmful climate change,” said the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Joan Clos. “They will create more efficient passenger and freight transportation, spurring sustainable urban economic growth.”
The pledge was made by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the Latin American and African Development banks, and four other MDBs.
“Never before have these institutions collaborated on such a global scale. The breakthrough that we are witnessing allows us to plan for the one billion people who will move to cities over the next 20 years, and the one billion people still living in poverty,” said the joint convener of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), Cornie Huizenga, who also organized the SLoCaT Rio+20 campaign which led to the eight MDBs’ commitment.
According to the SLoCaT Partnership – made up of UN-organizations, development banks non-governmental organizations and business sector organizations – the pollution in the air, road accidents and transport related climate change can cost between five and ten per cent of gross domestic product per year.
“Transportation investments create the DNA of our cities,” the Global Policy Director and Founder of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, Michael Replogle, said in an interview.
“They determine really where we can live and work and how we can develop our economies. If the transportation investment is made in a way that allows sustainable development we can have urbanization that reduces our consumption of scarce resources, protects our health and delivers happier, nicer cities,” he said.
“The old paradigm for transportation has not worked, it has been a failure for development so the banks are understanding that we need transportation more sustainable to avoid unnecessary travel by smarter planning, to allow people to have shorter trips, to walk and bike an encourage the use of cleaner vehicles,” Mr. Replogle added.