Affordable, sustainable and low carbon transport solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean

On the occasion of Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2019 which takes place from 19-23 August in Salvador, Brazil, the SLoCaT Partnership calls on all Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries to work together with national stakeholders to develop comprehensive and coherent sustainable and low carbon action plans. By leapfrogging outdated and inefficient transport solutions, LAC countries can move rapidly to cost effective and efficient mobility solutions. More accessible and equitable cities, fewer road accidents, lower transport costs, cleaner air and greater energy independence are just some of the benefits of sustainable low carbon transport solutions for the LAC region.

Latin America has the highest urban population of any region, which is driving transport demand (and in many cases urban congestion and emissions, in combination with rising motorisation rates). Although per capita transport emissions have risen in recent years, the region also has high urban bus mode shares, a broad rollout of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and walking and cycling infrastructure. Latin America’s high renewable energy share has sparked efforts to launch low carbon mobility through transport electrification.

“From Mexico to Argentina, ICLEI network cities in Latin America are leading on low carbon mobility. ICLEI is proud to work with cities in Latin America who are showing how sustainable urban freight and low-emission passenger solutions can be a part of a growing, healthy urban economy. Local innovation in particular has helped cities create inter-modal urban delivery and high-quality space for walking and cycling.”
Gino Van Begin, Secretary General, ICLEI, and SLoCaT Foundation Board of Directors member

Cost effective and locally appropriate transport solutions for LAC are available now and can bring significant local co-benefits – especially for vulnerable groups like the urban and rural poor, children and youth and older persons. Experience from across the globe has demonstrated that a comprehensive approach to avoiding unnecessary transport trips, shifting to more efficient modes and improving transport technologies and fuels can make transport systems in the LAC region more efficient, accessible, affordable, and ultimately, sustainable.

Among measures to avoid unnecessary trips, Mexico City introduced a major parking policy reform, limiting the number of parking spaces allowed in city construction codes, potentially leading to less auto-oriented land use. Among measures to shift to more efficient modes, in the last 10 years, Latin American countries have added over 1200 km of rapid transit, 78% of which was BRT. Latin America led world regions in BRT implementation, with systems in 54 cities totaling 1,757 km at the end of 2017 (with the addition of new systems in Acapulco and Cartagena, and expansions in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo in 2016), accounting for roughly a third of global totals for each.

“Latin American cities have been at the vanguard of sustainable transport for decades. The LAC region offers many best practices in sustainable transport, such as high-quality BRT networks and progressive parking reform policies, which can be replicated to make streets safer and more accessible in all global regions.”
Aimée Gauthier, Chief Knowledge Officer, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and SLoCaT Foundation Board of Directors member

In addition, the share of cycling in urban trips increased sharply in several Latin American cities. In Buenos Aires, the cycling share grew from 0.8% in 2002 to 3.3% in 2015 and in Bogotá it grew from 0.5% to nearly 6%. Among measures to improve efficiency of transport trips in the LAC region, Chile announced that as of 2018, Santiago’s subway system – the second largest in Latin America after Mexico City – would be powered by solar photovoltaic (42%) and wind energy (18%), and in November 2018, 100 new e-buses were added to Santiago’s bus fleet (the most e-buses outside of China), with another 100 e-buses slated for delivery this year.

“Achieving Paris Agreement targets will depend on increasing renewable energy for transport in Latin America and other regions. For example, Santiago’s metro system draws the bulk of its energy from solar and wind energy projects, and Bogotá is advancing plans to add nearly 600 electric buses to its BRT system.”
Rana Adib, Executive Secretary, REN21, and SLoCaT Foundation Board of Directors member

SLoCaT released in December 2018 the Transport and Climate Change 2018 Global Status Report (TCC-GSR), a flagship report describing trends in transport emissions and sustainable transport policies as well as policy targets across all transport sub-sectors. An infographic based on the findings of the TCC-GSR for LAC has been produced for the regional climate week in English and Spanish.

At the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week the SLoCaT Partnership is represented by the following members:

  • ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability: Iris Moriyama, Institutional Relations Coordinator,;
  • Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP): Ramón Cruz, International Policy Program Director,;

The SLoCaT Partnership Secretariat is represented at Latin America and Carribean Climate Week by: Maruxa Cardama, Secretary General (, Karl Peet, Research Director ( and Christopher Dekki, Senior Associate, Policy Advocacy and Outreach ( Please contact them with any questions, comments or for interviews (AR, EN, ES, FR, PT).

SLoCaT ́s work in the UNFCCC process is supported by Movin’On – our partners in the Paris Process on Mobility and Climate (PPMC). Please find information about events during the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2019 and key messages on the PPMC website.


Don’t miss these examples of positive transformation for people and planet from some SLoCaT Partnership members working in LAC:

Alstom modernises the metro of Santiago

From 2014 to 2018 Alstom modernised Santiago’s metro network, the second longest metro network in Latin America after Mexico City. The modernisation added about 20 years to the lifespan of the trains and increased energy efficiency of the trains by 30%. Moreover, it brought a major improvement in terms of comfort, reliability and security for all commuters and it supported the creation of 150 local jobs. According to REN21, the Santiago metro system, which transports 2.4 million passengers each day, is 60% powered by renewable energy due to a purchase power agreement with nearby solar and wind energy projects.

For more information, please see:


Guayaquil public bicycle sharing an inclusive cycling policies and infrastructure

The Municipal Transit Authority of Guayaquil, Ecuador set out to develop a public bicycle sharing system and the Inter-American Development Bank hired Despacio to develop a background study on bicycle sharing, cycle-inclusive policies and cycle-infrastructure design guidelines. The results of the analysis indicate that there is relatively low bicycle use of the bicycle in Guayaquil, and that existing trips that are spread throughout the city on primary roads that connect different city districts. The study highlighted the need to improve road safety, protect cyclists through safe infrastructure and reduce the speed of motorized vehicles to improve cycling conditions and increase cycling activity.

For more information, please see:


Pilot project on electric tricycles in Guatemala for inclusive urban mobility

Through the EUROCLIMA+ programme 50 electric tricycles are being introduced to San Juan de Comalapa, Guatemala. This pilot project has the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It increases the mobility of elderly and disabled people and supports clean freight transport. A charging station for the vehicles will be implemented as well. 10 electric tricycles will be made accessible for disabled and elderly people and 13 electric tricycles will be used for the transport of goods and collection of waste. The remaining electric tricycles will replace existing conventional existing vehicles. The project trains drivers on how to use the vehicles and teach mechanics on how to repair them and the charging station through workshops. The project is being implemented by GIZ.

For more information, please see:


Raising fuel economy standards in LAC

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) is working with partners in LAC to understand vehicle fleets and support governments to develop policy options to reduce emissions. For example, GFEI has been working with Peru to understand the potential impact of tax policy on vehicle efficiency, including feebates. This approach could help Peru to reduce average fuel consumption and CO2 from the passenger car fleet by 3% each year. In Jamaica, GFEI has worked with the government to help develop proposals to meet its climate commitments. An important regional conference was hosted by GFEI in December 2018 to share progress on Jamaica’s fuel economy policies, and agree a roadmap for cleaner, more efficient vehicles across the Caribbean region.

For more information, please see:


Fortaleza, 2019’s Sustainable Transport Award Winner

ICLEI member Fortaleza received the 2019 Sustainable Transport Award. The Brazilian city has been implementing good practices since 2014 by introducing complete streets and equitable division of road space; reducing CO2, and increasing road safety by prioritising public transport, cycling, and walking. In 2018, Fortaleza had 108 km of dedicated bus lanes, refurbished bus terminals and a fare-integrated transport system. In addition, it implemented 225 km of cycling infrastructure and an integrated bike share system. The bike sharing system promotes modal integration in the city between public transport and bicycles, with large shared bicycle stations close to transport stations that can be accessed with the transport card. Road safety elements implemented include reduced speed limit, narrowing roads for cars, raised pedestrian crossings, and redesigned intersections. As a result, deaths from traffic collisions have been reduced from 14.66 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2014, to 9.71 in 2017.

For more information, please see:


Rio de Janeiro implements off-street parking reform

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) Brazil advocated since 2016 for an off-street parking reform in Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, ITDP released a study about the city’s parking legislation and its impacts identifying the spatial mismatch: Around 42% of the built area which was developed between 2006 and 2015 in the city was for vehicles. Following the study launch, a series of workshops and collaborative meetings with public officials took place in order to revise building code laws. The city approved in 2019 new building codes which include restrictions for off-street parking and the promotion of walking and cycling. The new legislation sets maximum parking spaces for buildings within 800 meters from a transit system. Under the old legislation every housing unit needed to have a minimum of one parking space. Now, a maximum of one spot per 4 units is permitted. This legislation change is also bringing about huge improvements in regulations for bike parking facilities.

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Decarbonising transport in three cities by 2050

The Decarbonising Transport in Latin American Cities (DTLA) project by the International Transport Forum (ITF) aims to help policy makers in the three Latin American cities Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Mexico City to achieve their CO2 reduction ambitions for the transport sector. In collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the ITF will provide local policy makers with better quantitative evidence on the actual impact of CO2 mitigation measures. For this purpose the ITF will develop strategic transport models for each of the three cities. Such models will allow decision makers to test and select the most effective policy pathways for achieving their transport CO2 reduction goals by 2050. The project also encompasses systematic and inclusive policy dialogue in the LAC region. Latin American transport stakeholders will discuss the modelling results regarding their effectiveness in order to encourage the implementation of collectively-developed mitigation pathways. It will bring together Latin American governments, the private sector, sectoral organisations, multilateral development banks and research institutions.

For more information, please see:


The Small Steps Project in Medellin

Walk21 works with FundaPeatón and the City of Medellin with financial support from the Alstom Foundation to develop the Small Steps Forward project and ensure as much walkability as possible. by engaging young people from neighbourhoods located inLa Cancelaria. This initiative gives children, for the first time, the opportunity to share their everyday mobility and safety needs by plotting their location-specific perceived deficiencies in the transport system using a new tool developed in partnership with Stefan Steiniger, a Professor at CEDEUS, in the University of Santiago de Chile. The project was launched together with more than 30 children participating in a local park during the celebration of “Medellin’s Mobility Week 2018”, organised by the Secretary of Mobility.

For more information, please see:


Please find the PDF version of article for the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2019 here.