World’s Largest Development Banks Join Together at Rio+20 to Invest $175 Billion for the Creation of More Sustainable Transport Systems

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (20 June, 2012)—The eight largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) announced today that they will invest US$175 billion to finance more sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade, boosting equitable economic development and protecting the environment and public health across the developing world. The pledge by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and six other MDBs was made at the start of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20).

Congestion, air pollution, road accidents and transport related climate change can cost 5-10% of GDP per year. The transportation sector is now the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases a result of decades of urban planning that focused on improving mobility for automobiles at the expense of public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians. This approach has made life much more difficult for people in cities, especially the urban poor.

 “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. They will create more efficient passenger and freight transportation, spurring sustainable urban economic growth,” said Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT.

The voluntary commitments are an outcome of the Rio+20 campaign of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), a multi-stakeholder partnership including UN-organizations, MDBs and other development organizations, NGOs and business sector organizations. 16 additional voluntary commitments were made by 13 organizations on sustainable transport; the total pledged today will give millions of people across the world better access to schools, hospitals, jobs and markets.

 “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” says Cornie Huizenga, joint convener of the SLoCaT Partnership and organizer of the SLoCaT Rio+20 campaign.

 The rapid pace of urbanization around the world is transforming the transportation sector. Although Latin America is already highly urbanized, cities in Africa and especially Asia are still mushrooming in size. It is expected that China and India alone will add 500 million people to their urban population in the next 20 years. This growth demands transportation systems that can prevent or overcome patterns of sprawl and congestion and ensure access to goods and services.
 “This large MDB commitment on transport is an important contribution towards putting in place collaborative long term finance for the transport sector. Together with the other transport-related voluntary commitments made by members of the SLoCaT partnership, the MDB commitment can help effective measurable implementation of Sustainable Development,” says Brice Lalonde, one of the two executive coordinators of the Rio+20 Conference.
“Participants at Rio+20 have witnessed the toll that traffic congestion and unsafe street crossings impose every day. We see it at home, we see it when we travel, and we see it in Rio,” said Michael Replogle, Global Policy Director and Founder of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). “These problems have solutions, but to replicate the successful models for urban transport that we developed in cities like Ahmedabad and Guangzhou, we need the policy support of U.N. organizations, enabling actions by national governments, and the financial support of MDBs. These commitments will help advance those solutions.”

 The SLoCaT partnership will help develop the results framework and annual reporting on the implementation of the voluntary commitments. The Joint Statement of the MDBs acknowledges this role: “Together with 68 agencies that form the SLoCaT Partnership, we have initiated work on definitions, setting targets and choosing indicators for sustainable transport/mobility and assistance provided to support sustainable transport/mobility, with a view to finalizing these within 2012.”

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 The SLoCaT partnership, a multi-stakeholder partnership of over 60 members, was formed in 2009 to improve the knowledge on sustainable low carbon transport, help develop better policies and catalyze their implementation. It has influenced sustainable transport policies and strategies across a wide range of its member organizations including development banks, international organizations, NGOs, private sector, and research organizations.

 ITDP helps cities to design and implement environmentally sustainable and socially equitable transportation solutions in cities. With projects in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Hungary and the US, ITDP is at the forefront of efforts to reduce carbon emissions, protect the environment, enhance social equity, and improve the quality of urban life.

 For more information:

  • Cornie Huizenga, SLoCaT,, +55 21-9678-1050
  • Michael Replogle, ITDP,, +1.301.529.0351 
  • Ramon Cruz, ITDP,, +55 21-9614-5340