Planners need to establish clear priorities of funding. Which projects
require immediate attention from
the government? Which projects
could exploit the use of public-private
investment? Although the majority
of private-sector transportation financing has been
channeled toward the construction of highways,
some Latin American countries have achieved important progress by incorporating the private sector into
the financing of urban transport infrastructure. For
example, in the last 15 years, private-sector investment in Chile has helped close the gap in funding
urban-transport infrastructure. One example is the
concession scheme of urban highways in Santiago.
The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is an example of alternative models of
funding for emissions reductions. This mechanism,
based on setting achievable targets also allows developing countries to host projects that reduce GHG
emissions. The emission reductions are then transformed into credits. Developed countries can buy
those credits to comply with their emission reduction targets set by the Kyoto Protocol.
Developing countries benefit as they incorporate
projects with cleaner technologies, producing an
improvement in their environmental quality. Projects have to go through a process that analyzes the
emission reductions, whether the existence of the
mechanism was a key element for its development,
among others steps in order to be validated and registered under this mechanism. Once a project has been
implemented, the emission reductions must be certified to be able to sell as tradable emission credits. The
stages through which projects must pass are administered by agencies established by the Protocol.
The CDM mechanism has already been used
in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, mining,
chemical and metal production, waste handling,
and agriculture. Transport has been one of the sectors with the fewest registered projects (only two).
In Colombia, the city of Bogotá designed a plan for
a new transport system that became the first trans-
portation project to be registered as part of the CDM.
Bogotá’s project shows how the current CDM scheme
can serve as a tool for the provision of urban-transport infrastructure.
Despite Colombia’s successful experience, CDM
has not been used broadly for transportation projects,
or for transportation policies. Rather, CDM credits
have been awarded for specific projects. 13 To overcome this barrier, further work is needed to better
adapt the CDM mechanism to facilitate the inclusion
of a broader array of actions under a general policy
to support innovation in transportation. The mechanism should also be able to consider transport systems that reduce incentives for urban growth and
harmful land-use change.
Don’t Forget the Importance
of Public Administration
A smart approach to planning urban
transport infrastructure requires the
development of efficient, transparent
institutions that can execute plans
and monitor their implementation.
This means extensive capacity-build-ing efforts at different levels of government—and,
in particular the adoption of a bureaucratic culture attuned to coordinating all aspects of a system
among different ministries and agencies.
These five policy approaches can go a long way
toward developing an urban transport infrastructure that makes the most efficient use of available
resources and has the least impact on the environment. Urban planning is a matter of making choices.
As our cities face new strains brought about by economic pressures, they must face up to their role in
preserving our natural resources and maintaining
a livable environment for future generations. Creating environmentally sound public-transit systems
that promote sustainable growth is not only the right
choice: it is an obligation—to the world and to the
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