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Cities and climate

Sunrise through the smog in Manila, the Philippines

As recently as the mid-twentieth century, just one person in three lived in a town or city. Today urban centres are already home to more than half of the world's population, and by 2050 more than two-thirds of humanity will probably live in an urban setting – while global population figures continue to increase. There can be no doubt that this is the age of urbanisation.

There are many reasons why more and more people are being drawn into cities and why cities are driving economic development. But towns and cities are driving global warming. They are already responsible for about 75 per cent of energy and resource consumption and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Since, by 2050, more than two billion more people than today will be living in cities, it is clear that global climate targets will only be achieved if sustainability is put at the heart of urban development. This is particularly true with regard to urban transport and infrastructure. Because traffic and transport is responsible for a quarter of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Apartment block in Tirana, Albania

Sustainable urban planning

Urban growth will push the construction of new housing and infrastructure up to levels that have never been seen before. If the cities of the future were to be built the same way as cities were built in the past, mainly from cement, steel and glass, this alone would use up almost the entire budget envisaged under the two or rather 1.5 degree target that was agreed in the Paris Agreement.

Construction therefore has to become more efficient; and climate-friendly alternatives to the construction methods of the past will need to be developed. It is also crucial that buildings in cities become more energy efficient. In 2010 buildings accounted for roughly one third of the world's energy demand and one fifth of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Analyses tell us that the energy consumption of buildings worldwide can be almost halved by 2050 by retrofitting existing buildings and designing new buildings in an energy-efficient manner.

Cities are not just contributors to climate change. They also feel its impacts. They are often located in positions on coasts, rivers, deltas or mountain slopes so that they are exposed to particular risks. Economic damage caused by natural disasters is likely to be particularly extensive in cities and poorer inhabitants in particular are often entirely defenceless against extreme weather. Sustainable urban planning, investment in resilient infrastructure and also simple measures such as the creation of urban green spaces can make a valuable contribution to significantly mitigating the adverse impacts of extreme weather events.

Infographic on the topic of "Cities and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Mobility and climate"

Cities leading the way

The global climate and development goals that the international community agreed by adopting the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement can only be achieved by working hand in hand with the world's cities. And a UN Habitat study shows that two thirds of all Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have an urban component. Or, as the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it: "cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost."

The NDCs are determined at the national level, often without cities being involved in any way. That is why the Talanoa Dialogue was created at the 2017 climate summit in Bonn. This dialogue offers non-state and local actors a platform to showcase ideas for addressing global challenges relating to climate change. It also offers national governments a framework within which to engage with their cities and municipalities in developing joint solutions. The advantages of such an approach and the way of realising it are illustrated in the publication Talanoa and Beyond: Raising Ambition with Cities and Regions and in the Talanoa series on the URBANET blog.

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Opportunities for cities

Because cities are densely populated, they are also a good starting point in the battle against poverty, inequality and the excessive use of resources. Large amounts of resources can be saved through the high number of inhabitants and the concentration of economic activity. Appropriate strategies can ensure that resource flows between cities and their environs can be used and managed more efficiently. These days, many cities and metropolitan regions are in the vanguard of climate action and resource protection, implementing space-saving and compact urban structures, low-emission transport facilities, energy-efficient buildings and efficient waste disposal systems. This has allowed cities such as Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tokyo to reduce their per capita carbon dioxide emissions, while prosperity and incomes have increased.

To help cities in developing and newly industrialising countries embark on a pathway of sustainable urban development at an early stage, Germany is promoting climate-friendly, safe and affordable urban mobility through its development cooperation. Mobility is the precondition for economic growth, trade and creativity but also for personal wellbeing.

Cities will suffer from traffic congestion, air pollution and noise unless they pursue sustainable traffic policies.

These policies need to support public transport just as much as non-motorised transport, involve the poor to the same extent as the wealthy and give room to both environmentally friendly individual transportation and shared vehicle use.

That is why the BMZ presented the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative TUMI, at the UN cities summit in Quito in late 2016. With its partners, Germany is working to promote strategies for sustainable and innovative mobility in developing countries and emerging economies – for climate-friendly and liveable cities worldwide.

Participants of the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador
An electric car is charged at a charging station in Berlin.
German activities

Climate-friendly urban development and mobility

Germany's development cooperation aims to promote liveable and climate-friendly cities through a transformation towards climate-friendly mobility. As emissions from urban traffic continue to increase, Germany is promoting urban development and mobility strategies at national and municipal levels that take account of all aspects of climate protection and resilience in the face of climate change.

Such strategies focus on measures to prevent traffic and shift motorised transport to public transport and non-motorised transport. They also include making transport systems more environmentally friendly by promoting electric vehicles, for example.

Another focus area of German development cooperation is the development of infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of climate change. More than half of German financial cooperation in the field of adaptation to climate change is focused on cities. In the field of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions it is even roughly two thirds of German loans and grants.

Urban Mobility
Urban Mobility | Strategies for Liveable Cities

08/2016 | pdf | 5.8 MB | 24 P. | accessible My binder

Creating sustainable cities
Creating sustainable cities

05/2016 | pdf | 2.5 MB | 24 P. | accessible My binder

A crowd of people in the centre of Jakarta, Indonesia, on a car-free Sunday

Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI)

The rapid growth of cities and the increase in traffic are having an increasing impact on climate change. The transport sector accounts for 28 per cent of global final energy consumption and, at the same time, it is the sector with the fastest-growing emissions. Without a global transformation of the transport sector, the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda cannot be reached; global warming will continue to increase. 

That is why the BMZ launched the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) at the 2016 Habitat III Conference in Quito together with eight partner institutions. The focus of the mobility initiative is on promoting a climate-friendly, safe and affordable urban mobility infrastructure which protects the climate and simultaneously provides the poorest sections of the urban population with a means of accessing work, health care and education. Better transport systems for the poor are crucial, as they often live in slums on the edge of cities, while hospitals, schools, and well-paid jobs are predominantly located in the parts of cities that are better developed. Public transport systems, or at least routes that are safe for walking and cycling, are the only means for people living in poorer settlements to access these vital urban services.

Since 2016, the initiative has been promoting sustainable mobility systems in developing countries and emerging economies, focusing on three priority areas:

  1. TUMI mobilises financial and technical support for the construction and expansion and the modernisation of sustainable urban mobility infrastructure.
  2. TUMI offers training for some 1,000 urban leaders, decisionmakers, planners and students, so that projects relating to sustainable mobility can be implemented with the necessary expertise.
  3. TUMI promotes innovative solutions, for instance with the help of the Global Urban Mobility Challenge. The competition is open to entries from around the world; it encourages cities to address local mobility challenges and implement ambitious projects.
Construction site for a new subway line in Delhi, India

TUMI the groundbreaker: German involvement in urban mobility worldwide

One country in which TUMI is active is India, one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The country is still in the early stages of a boom in urbanisation. Yet, it is already grappling with enormous population growth rates and high rates of vehicle ownership. That is why TUMI is supporting the development of pedestrian-friendly streets in Chennai with a view to upgrading public space. There are plans to transfer this model to other cities.

In Bogotá, Colombia, TUMI is supporting the development of the SafetiPin app, which collects data on mobility in the city with a view to improving the safety of women and girls.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, TUMI is involved in Last Mile Connectivity efforts, i.e. measures to get people from the last stop on a public transport route to their final destination. Bicycle sharing stations are one way of solving the last mile problem and connecting people to local public transport. Marginalised groups such as women and children benefit especially from these measures.

In addition, TUMI has provided workshops and trainings in many countries worldwide, for example in Windhoek, Namibia, in Bogotá and Ibagué, Colombia, and also in Bangkok and in China, with more than 1,300 participants, especially from transport ministries and transport authorities.

Bikes in Amsterdam
  • View of Beira, Mozambique
    Mozambique: cooperation in action

    Restoring the natural course of the Chiveve river

    The city of Beira is located in a bay of the Indian Ocean in the centre of Mozambique. Under the influence of climate change, the sea holds dangers for the local population. The consequences of floods and coastal erosion in particular are already clearly noticeable.

  • Building a new road in Khulna, Bangladesh
    Bangladesh: cooperation in action

    Climate-smart urban development

    Climate change poses particular problems for Bangladesh: one fifth of the country could be left permanently under water as sea levels rise.

  • EcoCasas in Mexico
    Mexico: cooperation in action

    A way to improve housing and save energy

    Half a million new housing units are built in Mexico every year; eight per cent of the population work in the construction industry. The country's energy consumption is rising steadily, with private households accounting for around 17 per cent of total usage.

  • Participants of the TUMI conference on Urban Mobility Governance in May 2017 in Leipzig
    TUMI: cooperation in action

    An international approach to transforming the transport sector

    With transport accounting for 28 per cent of energy-related emissions and rising, the sector is one of the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The new tramway in Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil: cooperation in action

    New local rail services in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahía

    Cities in Brazil are growing steadily. In 2010, 84 per cent of all people in Brazil were living in cities, in 1940 the share of urban dwellers was only 30 per cent. Even though more public transport services are on offer, they are a long way from meeting actual needs.

  • Bus in Windhoek
    Namibia: cooperation in action

    Wanted: sustainable traffic planning experts

    Namibia urgently needs skilled experts to further expand its transport sector. The young Namibian Immanuel Johannes has a university degree in civil engineering and has recently begun working as a junior traffic planner in Windhoek.

View of Beira, Mozambique
Mozambique: cooperation in action

Restoring the natural course of the Chiveve river

The city of Beira lies in the middle of Mozambique, on the Indian Ocean and has a special relationship with the sea. Its economy is very much shaped by the fishing industry and by its large harbour. But because of the effects of climate change, the ocean poses risks for people in the region. The impact of flooding and coastal erosion in particular can already be felt.

These changes are felt most strongly by poor population groups. Cheizin Mussa, an inhabitant of the Praia Nova fishing community, reports that in her community a large part of the shore line has been swallowed by the sea – and the thrust of the waves is threatening to destroy her house, too. Asked why the coast is changing so much, she says: "The temperature is rising, the ocean is moving in on us." The people of Beira have all become very much aware of climate change.

Many informal settlements are located in the vicinity of the historic city centre, often in areas that are considered at risk. One of these is Goto, a settlement that grew up on the banks of the Chiveve river. Chaimel Calido, an 18 year-old apprentice, says that the rainfalls that regularly flood the settlement have become much worse in recent years. "We have to walk through the mud to go to work, but we don't have any rubber boots. The children get sick with diarrhoea, headache and malaria." The heavy rainfalls encourage the spread of cholera. Every year, the disease claims the lives of 1,000 people in the community. Many are forced to leave their flooded homes during the rainy season.

In order to help reduce the risk of flooding and mitigate other impacts of climate change in Beira, the German government provided funding to restore the natural course of the Chiveve river, a tidal body of water. The 3.7 km stretch of the river running through the centre of Beira was dredged to remove rubbish and sediment. In addition, a tidal defence system was constructed, reopening the river to the Indian Ocean. This measure has restored the drainage function of the Chiveve river so that rainwater from further upstream, including from the Goto settlement, can be evacuated more rapidly into the sea. This is an effective way of avoiding the build-up of stagnant, polluted water and preventing related water-borne diseases.

The project is having a positive impact on the city. It has increased the city's resilience against the effects of climate change. The rehabilitation of the natural drainage function of the Chiveve river has improved Beira's capacities to adapt to climate-related changes such as heavy rainfalls and an increase in sea levels. The project is thus laying the groundwork for further development of the entire area within the city. In addition, Germany is helping to finance further climate-related projects. This includes developing a park within the city and improving the waste collection system. This will help to create a safe and attractive environment for the people who live and work in the city.

Because the buildings in informal settlements are of simple construction and are located close to water courses, they are particularly at risk from climate change impacts.

Video: Mozambique - coastal protection in Beira

Mozambique is already affected by the consequences of climate change, such as severe flooding. Germany supports the country in preventive measures. (Video in German)

Building a new road in Khulna, Bangladesh
Bangladesh: cooperation in action

Climate-smart urban development

Climate change poses particular problems for Bangladesh: one fifth of the country could be left permanently under water as sea levels rise. At the same time, the country already has a population density of 1,265 inhabitants per square kilometre, which is one of the highest in the world.

Germany is helping Bangladesh adapt to the consequences of climate change, for example in the city of Khulna, which is home to 1.5 million people, with a poverty rate of roughly 40 per cent. Khulna lies on the banks of the Bhairab and Rupsha rivers in south-western Bangladesh, at a height of just two to four metres above sea level. On account of its position, the city is prone to severe flooding during the monsoon season.

Because roads in Bangladesh frequently double as dams, they play a key part in flood protection. Unmotorised vehicles such as rickshaws make up 80 per cent of the traffic on the roads. As even these are often too expensive for poor people, many simply walk. However, there are no pavements or paths suited for pedestrians – a dangerous situation.

Within the framework of a joint initiative by the German government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on ecological urban development for Asia (CDIA – Cities Development Initiative for Asia), Germany is driving sustainable urban development in Khulna. The initiative, which is led by ADB and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is supporting medium-sized cities in Asia.

It aims to close the gap between the infrastructure needs and the financial means of these cities. The cities are often not able to carry out feasibility studies on their own because they lack the technical knowhow. However, such studies are essential to access investment from financial institutions. This is where the initiative offers support.

CDIA helped the city of Khulna to secure cofinancing from ADB and the German KfW Development Bank for a project on climate-smart urban development. The government of Bangladesh is also providing part of the funding.

Through this project, ten kilometres of access roads were developed in poorer neighbourhoods, permanently connecting some 200,000 people to the transport network, giving them greater mobility and reducing travel times.

The roads were built with a system of drainage ditches so that, during the monsoon season, districts within the city are no longer under water for weeks. This has reduced the risk of flooding considerably and improved people's quality of life. The roads have also given people access to new economic opportunities. An inhabitant from the project area reports that the new access roads have never been flooded yet, whereas in the past the roads used to be under water for up to six months.

The project also includes measures such as increasing the height of embankment roads, strengthening riverbank protection and extensive urban greening. Abir ul Jabbar, head of Khulna's planning authority, says: "The project is in line with the city's transport and mobility needs and has contributed to making our road infrastructure climate-smart and environmentally friendly."

Project marking in the redevelopment area Jessore-Joragate in Khulna, Bangladesh

Khulna

Project marking in the redevelopment area Jessore-Joragate in Khulna, Bangladesh
Rickshaw driver on the completed bypass road in Khulna, Bangladesh
Rickshaw driver on the completed bypass road in Khulna, Bangladesh
Dam road to protect a residential area at the port of Khulna in Bangladesh
Two workers on a construction site on the banks of the Mayur River in the city of Khulna on a bank reinforcement.
Rickshaw driver on the completed bypass road in Khulna, Bangladesh
Rickshaw driver on the completed bypass road in Khulna, Bangladesh
EcoCasas in Mexico
Mexico: cooperation in action

A way to improve housing and save energy: Energy-efficient construction and emissions reduction in Mexico's transport sector

Half a million new housing units are built in Mexico every year; eight per cent of the population work in the construction industry. The country's energy consumption is rising steadily, with private households accounting for around 17 per cent of total usage. This makes energy-efficient housing construction particularly important.

The Mexican social housing development bank has launched the EcoCasa programme, which it is implementing with the Inter-American Development Bank and German development cooperation. A variety of international funds are putting up funding in a combined approach, including the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and the European Commission’s Latin American Investment Facility (LAIF). Germany has provided a total of 200 million euros in low-interest loans and investment subsidies via KfW since 2013.

Green housing

The programme will run until 2022 and will mobilise about half a billion US dollars of private investment. More than 36,000 energy-efficient homes and 600 passive houses have already been financed for more than 100,000 Mexicans in all four climatic zones of the country. These 'eco-friendly homes' use on average about 20 per cent less energy than conventional buildings.

In consequence EcoCasa will save more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the entire lifecycle of the houses. The programme is also improving the lives of many Mexicans, who can now enjoy better-quality housing. It is also helping to establish new environmentally friendly and energy-efficient standards in housing construction which are to become a benchmark for the Mexican housing market in the future.

Electromobility

In addition, Germany uses its development cooperation programmes to support the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) jointly with the British Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The purpose of the CFF is to help cities develop bankable projects for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening their resilience in the face of climate change.

One of the CFF projects is focused on the Eje 8 Sur route in Mexico City. Some 100 electric busses are to replace the minibusses with high emission rates that are currently being used. Bicycle paths will also be developed alongside this 22 kilometre-long stretch. It is expected that this route will be used by 160,000 travellers every day and that the shift towards more sustainable means of transport will help to save approximately 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Based on this project, CFF is promoting exchanges of experience between Mexico City and other cities in the country, with a view to establishing electromobility more widely throughout Mexico.

Participants of the TUMI conference on Urban Mobility Governance in May 2017 in Leipzig
TUMI: cooperation in action

An international approach to transforming the transport sector

Transport and related infrastructure are the urban equivalent of the body’s cardiovascular system. They are what keeps a city ticking over, allowing people to get to work on time and children to get to school, and giving elderly and disabled people freedom of movement. Mobility is therefore more than just a manifestation of personal freedom, it also helps secure social participation and economic productivity.

However, with transport accounting for 28 per cent of energy-related emissions and rising, the sector is also one of the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.

That is why a global transformation of the transport sector is needed. The infrastructure that is put in place today will determine how we move about tomorrow, and how high (or low) the resultant emissions will be. With that in mind, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), together with a group of international partners, launched the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI).

Since 2016, the initiative has been promoting the development and expansion of sustainable mobility systems in developing countries and emerging economies, with a focus on three main areas: 1. investment; 2. capacity building; 3. promoting innovation in the mobility sector.

TUMI Conference

How can the transition to transport systems that are more environmentally friendly be achieved, especially in African cities? How can good solutions like rapid bus systems and networks of bike lanes be quickly scaled up? How can urban planning and transport planning be more closely integrated?

These and other questions were discussed by more than 80 international specialists and senior executives at the TUMI conference on Urban Mobility Governance, which took place in May 2017 in Leipzig, Germany. Representatives from transport authorities, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa, provided fascinating insights into their local traffic systems and discussed innovative solutions.

The conference was an important step towards enhancing the networking of decisionmakers and planners, and fostering the exchange of information, solutions and technical knowhow. The TUMI event was also part of the Marshall Plan with Africa, which was launched by the BMZ with a view to giving new impetus to cooperation between African countries and Germany.

Participants of the TUMI conference on Urban Mobility Governance in May 2017 in Leipzig
The new tramway in Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: cooperation in action

New local rail services in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahía

Cities in Brazil are growing steadily. In 2010, 84 per cent of all people in Brazil were living in cities, in 1940 the share of urban dwellers was only 30 per cent. Even though more public transport services are on offer, they are a long way from meeting actual needs. At the same time, the number of cars and motorcycles is growing, increasing the overall traffic volume and, with it, traffic jams, air pollution and stress. This also leads to an increase in harmful greenhouse gases. According to Brazil's Climate Observatory the transport sector accounted for more than 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2015, which equals almost 11 per cent of the country's total emissions.

The transport sector is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases worldwide. As stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this sector accounts for almost one quarter of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, with more than three quarters of this amount coming from private vehicles. Brazil has drawn up guidelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. These guidelines provide, inter alia, for public transport to be expanded, because rail-based transport systems use less energy per passenger kilometre than motorised private vehicles. The German government is making credit lines available to two cities, to help them modernise their transport systems and make them more sustainable.

These funds are to be used to cofinance public transport systems that are especially climate-friendly and sustainable: a tramway in Rio de Janeiro and an underground line in Salvador da Bahía (expansion of line 1 and construction of line 2). The projects were selected using criteria that included a CO2 benchmark.

In addition, the German government is helping the Brazilian development bank BNDES improve its own programme for calculating CO2 emissions for the transport sector and draw up a guideline on selecting suitable technologies for public transport.

Once the tramway in Rio de Janeiro and the underground lines in Salvador have been completed, some 18 million passengers a year will shift from private vehicles with high CO2 emissions to public transport. That shift is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some 530,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. Through this involvement the German government is helping the Brazilian government push forward the shift towards public transport and achieve its national climate goals.

Bus in Windhoek
Namibia: cooperation in action

Wanted: sustainable traffic planning experts

Namibia urgently needs skilled experts to further expand its transport sector. The young Namibian Immanuel Johannes has a university degree in civil engineering and has recently begun working as a junior traffic planner in Windhoek.

During his studies he had the opportunity to gain initial practical experience in his professional field by working in the Transport, Mobility, Logistics project of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Later, as a student worker, he was involved in traffic surveys carried out as part of the Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan for Windhoek and supported by German development cooperation.

After completing his university degree, Immanuel Johannes began to work as an intern in the city of Windhoek's department for public transport. Not long after, he was offered a job as a junior transport planner. GIZ-CIM expert Silja Fieblinger trained the young transport expert. Today, Johannes is in charge of optimising public transport in Windhoek and planning the organisation of the bus services.

"In Windhoek the programme on sustainable urban traffic has ushered in a truly new way of thinking. The issue plays an important role in urban planning now. In 2016 a new bus route was started with 14 new lines and 26 modern busses. We now have a line for the first time that covers several neighbourhoods," says Prof Heinrich Semar, project manager of the Transport, Mobility, Logistics GIZ project.

Videos on "Cities and climate"

Living with climate change

Germany is supporting Bangladesh in mitigating the consequences of climate change, for example by building bridges, dams and embankments. (Video in German)

Philippines: Flood management in Naga City

The city of Naga in the Philippines is located in the center of a typhoon area, regularly flooding. With the help of the initiative "Urban Development for Asia" (CDIA), measures for flood control were financed in Naga.

Reducing air pollution with E-Trikes

In Naga City in the Philippines, a company has specialised in the construction of E-Trikes. The electric vehicles are designed to reduce air pollution. 90 percent of the required materials are supplied from the immediate vicinity, only 10 to 15 percent have to be imported.

Cities for a better world

Cities are the key to our future. With the beginning of civilisation, they have been the centres of progress and innovation, of political and cultural life. They are the engines of our economy and marketplaces for goods of all kinds. They are places of longing, linked to hope and liberty.

Cities and climate

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