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Partnership on Sustainable Transport releases progress report amidst Brazilian transit protests

John Romano

Posted July 10, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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With the ongoing protests in Brazil in recent weeks, we’ve seen evidence of the importance of public transportation within cities in emerging economies. Mobilized initially in response to a public transportation fare hike, these protests have quickly blossomed into a full-blown social movement. Coincidentally, it was just a year ago in Brazil that transportation garnered a considerable amount of attention at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, when eight multilateral development banks – as members of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) – made a $175 billion commitment to sustainable transport. Just a few weeks ago, and right on the heels of these Brazilian protests, SLoCaT has released a “progress report” on its commitments, one year after Rio+20. 

Sustainable transportation is not only just about reducing carbon and other pollution. Adequate access to public transportation is critical for economic opportunity and social stability, particularly within growing cities in developing countries. As shown by the unrest in Brazil and elsewhere around the world, we cannot continue to increase overall economic well-being while ignoring social inequity or environmental degradation.

 2013_Brazilian_protests.jpg

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

After mounting political pressure and a meeting with protest leaders, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced last week that her administration would not only rescind the fare hikes, but will also allocate $25 billion USD in new investments in public transportation projects around the country.

Concrete commitments like these are essential if we are to make real progress on the wide range of environmental, social and economic challenges we face today. In Brazil, this change was initiated by a passionate and engaged group of citizens who demanded action and accountability from their government and decision-makers. If we are to build a future we are proud to pass on to our children, action and accountability must lay at its foundation – at all levels of society, not just within governments.

The SLoCaT “progress report” reflects the willingness of the international community to improve transportation networks in cities in developing countries, while also serving as a snapshot in time for progress on commitments made to this end. Such a detailed progress report on individual commitments is the first of its kind amongst the so-called sustainable development “Action Networks.” Reports such as this provide a concrete example of how the world could be monitoring and reporting on various PINCS.

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(Photo credit: John Romano)

The report highlights the progress made towards the 17 commitments made by the network at Rio+20, including the $175 billion sustainable transport commitment – the single largest promise made at the conference. The report shows that as of June 20, more than $17 billion has been approved and mobilized for projects in developing countries. Another initiative to assist over 200 cities in emerging economies to develop and implement sustainable transport plans has already directly impacted 39 cities, preventing over 2.2 million tons of CO2 emissions thus far. Along with the release of the report, SLoCaT also announced 6 brand new commitments, including an initiative to evaluate the impacts of all the commitments made by the network at Rio+20.

Such progress reports like the one from SLoCaT are a key part of the way forward and will be needed to ensure that the commitments made at Rio+20 are indeed fulfilled as promised, and that action and accountability are embedded in the “Future We Want.”

Visit the Cloud of Commitments website to keep up with our ongoing work to promote action and accountability and to track progress on some of the key commitments towards sustainable development made at Rio+20 and beyond. 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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