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Mar 20, 2012

IDB announces expansion of Emerging Sustainable Cities Initiative

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One medium-size city will be identified in each of the IDB’s 26 IDB borrowing countries; governments, foundations, and firms may finance the participation of other cities

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will expand its Emerging Sustainable Cities Initiative to include at least one city in each of its 26 borrowing member countries. In addition, the Bank will enable donor governments, firms, and foundations to sponsor the participation of additional cities.

The announcement was made by IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno in the seminar "Emerging Sustainable Cities Initiative: From Diagnosis to Action,” which was held on Tuesday, March 20, in Montevideo, Uruguay. The event was co-sponsored by the Municipality of Montevideo.

The initiative was launched last year to support cities with populations between 100,000 and 2 million people that are growing much faster than the region’s mega-cities. The IDB estimates there are 140 of these emerging cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The goal of the initiative is to form alliances with cities that wish to develop long-term strategies for sustainability in environmental, fiscal, and urban management, and to plan for the impacts of climate change.

The initiative’s pilot phase included Montevideo, Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), Santa Ana (El Salvador), Trujillo (Peru), and Goiânia (Brazil). In each city, a team of sector experts from the IDB made a comprehensive and rigorous diagnosis and evaluated challengesthat affect sustainability. Later, city officials used these inputs to prioritize problems and design an Action Plan to solve them. The IDB is now helping the cities to prepare investment projects and obtain funding from international sources to support these plans.

In his keynote presentation at the seminar, Moreno described how the diagnostic and planning methodology was applied. He also provided examples of how the pilot cities are preparing to address such challenges as digital connectivity, public transportation, solid waste management, and the restoration of a historical center.

Ana Olivera, mayor of Montevideo, gave a presentation in which she explained how the IDB methodology will support a comprehensive program to upgrade low-income neighborhoods.

In the coming months, Moreno said, the IDB will identify cities in Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Jamaica for inclusion in the initiative. More cities will continue to be added over the next five years. 

Moreno said that the Bank is also partnering with organizations that want to expand and accelerate this process. He noted that the IDB has created a multi-donor fund to facilitate the participation of other cities that wish to use the IDB’s diagnostic and planning methodology.

The Government of Austria made the first contribution to the fund for €1 million.The five member countries of the Nordic Fund announced a grant of €2 million during the Montevideo seminar.

Moreno invited the private sector to follow the example of FEMSA Foundation and the International Community Foundation, which recently agreed to finance the participation of the city of La Paz in Baja California, Mexico. 

"The enthusiasm sparked by this initiative reflects a deep yearning in our societies," said Moreno."The population of Latin America and the Caribbean is still young, and we have 30 years to reach the peak of our growth. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.We are convinced that we can grow with social inclusion, health, and integrity, and with the respect for our planet that we all share. "

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