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Nordic inspiration to Latin America

From left: Eivind Tandberg, Oslo; Morten Kabell, Copenhagen; and Milan Obradovic, Malmö.
Jan Gehl, Danish Architect, explaining the concept of liveable cities

Nordic mayors present city solutions in dialogue with Latin American mayors

Nordic mayors present Nordic experiences with climate change adaptation and mitigation in their cities at the Latin America and Caribbean Mayors Forum 2015 taking place in Washington DC at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Mayors Forum is part of the Urban Week, organised by the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI). Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank opened the Mayors Forum.

“Copenhagen’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2025” says Morten Kabell, Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs, City of Copenhagen, and continues “this is not going to be prohibitively expensive because the green transformation creates growth and jobs.” He mentions the example of a new bicycle bridge across the harbour where the economic calculations demonstrate that the positive benefits far outweighs the investment costs. Copenhagen focuses on developing the city for its inhabitants and through this approach reach sustainability.

Milan Obradovic, Deputy Mayor, Environment and Transport, City of Malmö, Sweden told the audience that “To reach sustainability you have to set ambitious goals which will also attract the best institutions, companies and people.” In the case of Malmö the city aims to be carbon neutral by 2030 and one of the ways this is being done is through district based projects that reflect different solutions to urban sustainability. One example is climate-smart Hyllie where inhabitants sign a contract on commitment to energy efficiency and other green solutions. The mayor moreover stressed the importance of developing a common vision and getting all on board.

The Norwegian capital of Oslo has a strategy to transform into a zero emissions city, and Eivind Tandberg, Municipal Director, Environment and Transport, City of Oslo, presented elements of the strategy and how this will be done. “We regard Oslo as a test lab solutions development” he states and mentions that “While electricity is going to be the main energy for transportation in the future at present household organic waste is transformed into biofuel that Oslo uses for running the city’s public bus fleet”.

Another element of the urban week is the Demand Solutions Seminar. Key-note speaker Jan Gehl, founder of Gehl Architects, met strong applause from a fully-packed auditorium when he presented his people-oriented paradigm for city planning. Jan Gehl’s career spans five decades of work with Copenhagen and later large cities such as New York, Moscow, and Sydney. Jan Gehl Architects works at present in the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative with medium-size cities in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, and Paraguay with low-cost practical solutions to make these cities friendlier to their inhabitants.

Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) is a technical assistance program implemented by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). ESCI addresses fast-growing intermediate (0.5-2.0 million inhabitants) Latin American cities’ environmental, urban and fiscal sustainability in a changing climate. ESCI began in 2010 with a grant from IDB to support five pilot cities. At present, ESCI has become a multi-donor effort reaching 55 cities in 2015. NDF joined ESCI in 2011 to support climate profiles and action planning for Cochabamba (Bolivia), Managua (Nicaragua), and Tegucigalpa (Honduras). NDF has recently approved financing to ESCI for a second phase to follow-up on the work done in the three cities.

More Information
NDF C68: Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) II