We live in an increasingly urbanized world. Every day, hundreds of people move to cities in search of job opportunities, better services, and infrastructure that can withstand natural phenomenon. Latin America and the Caribbean is the second-most urbanized region in the world and, as cities expand, their challenges also increase. Resilience in the face of disasters, better roads and transportation, more inclusion and access to financing are some of these challenges.
This week, more than 30 mayors and city leaders from around the world met in Buenos Aires to talk about the progress they have made and the obstacles they face, and especially to discuss how cities – where the largest share of global GDP is produced – can contribute to the global agenda. We spoke with two experts from the World Bank Group, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director for the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, and Gabriel Goldschmidt, director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for Latin America and the Caribbean, to discuss their vision for the future of cities, their main challenges and how to address them.
Question (Q): Ede, urbanistic discussions have recently focused on resilience. Could you define urban resilience and give us some examples?
Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (EIV): While there is no standard definition for urban resilience, most definitions coincide in that it refers to the capacity to manage a wide range of impacts and stresses that can occur in a city. While resilience has traditionally focused on climate change and its impacts – floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions – it is also the ability of an urban system to prepare and adapt itself to technological and socioeconomic changes. The former ranges from a breakdown and interruption of the water or energy system of a city, to a gas leak, a water pollution event or an explosion at an industrial plant. Socioeconomic changes refer to economic crises, demographic changes, terrorism events, strikes or social and political conflicts.
Q: In Latin America, eight of every 10 people live in cities, but many of them – the poorest – settle in the outskirts and lack access to basic services. How can we promote social inclusion and improve their quality of life?
EIV: The poor live in both downtown areas and the outskirts. Many of them live near the downtown areas to access jobs, often in informal settlements where the housing is more “accessible,” but in precarious conditions. These settlements often lack quality infrastructure and services. For cities to be inclusive, it is necessary to improve these informal settlements. For example, with support from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the government of the City of Buenos Aires is working to improve one of its most vulnerable and emblematic neighborhoods, Barrio 31. On the outskirts, where most urban growth is occurring, cities must urgently adopt a planning process with a view to the future so that they can provide infrastructure and services along with well-located housing at prices that are accessible to the low-income population.
Q: With respect to employment, how can cities prepare for future labor market challenges?
EIV: Cities in the developing world will have to accommodate a growing youth population that will continue to migrate from the countryside to the city. At the same time, cities in the developed world will have to prepare now for migrations of youth populations from less developed countries, which will accompany the aging of the countries’ own inhabitants. Migrations of people in search of opportunities, displacement due to conflict and violence, as well as an increased incidence and intensity of natural disasters associated with climate change, will increase the size of cities. At the same time, new technologies present challenges and opportunities for employment. While automation will replace many jobs, it will create new opportunities for others. New technologies have the potential to change the way people travel to work and transform complex markets such as that of real estate. Cities should work together with national governments to develop national urban policies that integrate local sector policies, rethink labor market and job training policies, and use those same technologies to manage cities.
Q: What role should development institutions such as the World Bank play, as well as city mayors, who have an increasingly key role in the future of the urban agenda at the global level?
EIV: Mayors are key players in the development of the global agenda. As cities concentrate the majority of inhabitants, and as they produce the largest share of GDP and greenhouse gas emissions, they are centers where the future of the world’s sustainability will be played out. Even though this is obvious, cities have not been considered enough in the process to establish the global agenda. Local leaders and mayors have very interesting experiences to bring to the table; the expert knowledge they have of urban problems and their proximity to the population they represent make them key actors for developing alternative, creative solutions to the most complex global problems. For this reason, the World Bank, together with other multilateral agencies, is committed to helping cities promote the exchange of knowledge among them and with national leaders. Likewise, the World Bank is well-positioned to help municipal governments take measures to promote investment in projects that improve the population’s quality of life.
The private sector, a key actor in urban development
Q: Gabriel, transforming cities is expensive. National and local governments have limited resources and high fiscal pressures. How can the private sector be persuaded to help cover the infrastructure deficit in Latin America, which according to some estimates is US$ 180 billion?
Gabriel Goldschmidt (GG): Cities are important centers of investment and economic growth. However, most cities in Latin America and the Caribbean have not grown in a sustainable way in recent decades. In a context of limited public budgets, it is important to consider mechanisms that can attract private-sector participation while maintaining the objective of improving the quality of life of the population.
City governments cannot do this alone: the needs are simply too great. Innovation and investment of the private sector are crucial for addressing the complex challenges of cities in key areas such as infrastructure, climate change and job creation. Where private-sector solutions exist, but are limited by weaknesses in the regulatory framework, the public sector and other players that should work together to create policies that enable the development of private-sector proposals. Finally, governments should reserve their limited fiscal budgets to invest in solutions for which there is no private-sector alternative.
For example, for the past 15 years, IFC has invested more than US$ 12 billion in 350 urban projects and advisory services in more than 60 countries, contributing to creating sustainable, competitive cities that attract the necessary private investment for inclusive growth and poverty reduction. Currently, IFC is working throughout the region with cities as diverse as Buenos Aires, Bogota, Barranquilla, Lima, Tegucigalpa and, soon, San Jose.
Q: How can these ideas of financing and innovation be leveraged to create more inclusive cities?
GG: Well-structured, well-managed private-public partnerships can contribute innovation, efficiency and financing of the private sector in a single package. Bogota has two interesting examples of public-private partnerships. IFC is supporting the city in the development of these partnerships in the health sector for the building of hospitals, something that is highly innovative. The public-private partnership model for educational institutions is also being supported in Medellin and Barranquilla.
Green bonds are another tool that cities can use to attract commercial financing for sustainable projects. Cities are responsible for more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the region. Currently, buildings generate 19% of the greenhouse gases associated with energy and consume 40% of electricity worldwide. Fortunately, many cities are proactively promoting sustainable infrastructure. IFC works with municipalities to implement green building codes. With the banking industry, it facilitates financing of sustainable projects while with real estate developers it supports the adoption of international sustainability certificates for buildings. For example, the EDGE certification, which was created by IFC, requires savings of at least 20% of water and energy and has been implemented in a variety of structures, including accessible housing.
Finally, land value capture is a way for municipalities to recover the value that public infrastructure generates (for example, property taxes, land improvement taxes and others).
Principles for Making Inclusive Aerial Mobility a Reality in Cities
World Economic Forum and the City of Los Angeles released a first-of-its-kind roadmap to support the roll-out of urban air mobility (UAM) in cities, founded on seven key principles of implementation that protect the public interest.
UAM is a new form of transport that has the potential to add an aerial dimension to cities’ transportation networks, improving connectivity and sustainability of transport infrastructure, but only if the right policies are in place. This next generation UAM resembles transit in the sky with piloted or autonomous flights of people or goods movement.
The Principles of the Urban Sky can guide city and industry leaders as they develop policy and infrastructure to ensure UAM is implemented in a way that is safe, sustainable and inclusive. These principles will be used for implementing UAM in Los Angeles.
“The current pandemic has created new challenges for transport networks and infrastructure around the world,” said Christoph Wolff, Head of Shaping the Future of Mobility at the World Economic Forum. “As we build back better, these principles provide an ethical framework for planning new modes of aerial transport at the same time as we reinvest in current forms of transit.”
The collaboration between the World Economic Forum and City of Los Angeles has led to the creation of principles that the community believes are fundamentally important to long-term success and the adoption of UAM globally. Witnessing the need for a great reset after the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles city leaders saw the importance of designing a future transport system that can be value-based while supporting the creation of new jobs in the region.
“Our city’s strength stems from our creativity, our innovative spirit and our willingness to test new ideas on our streets – and in our skies – that will inspire and change the world for the better,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Even in the face of COVID-19 today, our eyes are fixed on the horizon of a reimagined tomorrow, where Urban Air Mobility is a central part of a safe, sustainable, equitable future.”
The Principles of the Urban Sky identifies and outlines seven key components deemed critical for a scalable policy framework:
Developed over the past nine months by a working group of more than 50 manufacturers, service providers, infrastructure developers, academics, community organizations and government planners these principles aim to help policy-makers in Los Angeles and elsewhere improve quality of life with safer, cleaner, quieter and more accessible transport.
As cities and regions struggle with congestion, pollution and ageing infrastructure, policy-makers are exploring how state-of-the-art aerial platforms can be part of a multi-modal solution. Already, innovative companies are developing highly automated, electric flight in low-altitude airspace, but are seeking a clear policy environment to support deployment and implementation. This exciting frontier in travel will need not only creative technologies, but also novel approaches to policy-making to become a reality.
Comments from the industry
“Early, collaborative engagement between the aerospace industry and forward-thinking cities is critical to fully realizing the benefits of aerial mobility solutions,” said Igor Cherepinsky, Director of Sikorsky Innovations. “Defining the core principles that will underpin an operational framework is an important first step, and as a founding member of the working group we look forward to continuing these important discussions.”
“In releasing the Principles of the Urban Sky and sharing them with the global community, the World Economic Forum and City of Los Angeles are demonstrating the leadership society needs to address current and future mobility challenges,” said Pam Cohn, Chief Operating Officer, Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group. “How people move around in 10 years will be different from how people move around today. We look forward to working with the World Economic Forum, the City of Los Angeles and other partners to ensure UAM planning and development efforts worldwide are inclusive, safe, sustainable and people-centred.”
“Uber applauds the World Economic Forum and the City of Los Angeles for bringing together industry, local government, and other stakeholders to develop foundational principles to inform a community focused policy framework for urban air mobility,” said Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate. “Uber Elevate’s vision is to provide a complementary mode of transport that can seamlessly integrate with existing transport systems to offer an efficient and clean alternative to driving in congested urban environments. These principles demonstrate both the industry and local government’s commitment to work together to realize the potential of sustainable urban aviation.”
With a view towards sharing this roadmap with cities worldwide, this collaboration between the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and the World Economic Forum has been coordinated with technical and operational efforts led by Los Angeles Department of Transportation in conjunction with national authorities. What’s clear is that parallel strategic and operational planning are necessary for any city preparing for the roll-out of UAM and that this preparation must start well ahead of the first commercial deployments.
Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project: A Critical Review
The mega projects are kind of integrated activities which can be classified as projects having high complexity in terms of technology and human usage. These projects are usually of greater costs and for the broader development of a state. They are of extreme physical structure, high capacity working, expensive and under huge attention of public and government. The mega projects can be of different sectors like energy, infrastructure, and communication and others. As these projects are launched with bigger aims, the economic units are also measured in million dollars. For this gigantic amount, a developing country like Pakistan has to make a plan or strategy for its long term functioning. Since 2015, Pakistan has signed a number of mega projects with china under the flag of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), not just with China but with other states also.
Mega Projects in Pakistan
In addition to that, a number of developmental projects are domestically initiated. These projects include transport like railway, airports, highways, buses, power plants, dams, economic zones etc. The rationale is to get collective benefits and to open frontiers. The policy makers are always looking forward to the mega projects for their economic, political, technological and aesthetic sublime. The greater concern in starting these kinds of project revolves around the issue of higher costs. Many critics expressed that these projects need hard core planning for taking them upon considerations as there are high stakes involved specially for the country like Pakistan. The focus here is to find out the issue areas that should be examine for the success of large scale projects. The project under study is Lahore Orange Line Metro train (OLMT).
Lahore Orange Line Metro train (OLMT)
The demand and supply in the urban lines of traffic has been increasing widely specially in a Lahore as it the second largest urban sector in Pakistan. The need of mass transit system was long felt and in May 2014, the project was signed between Pakistan and China as memorandum of understanding and is expected to be completed by 2017. As Christopher Midler explains the innovation of developmental ideas, this project was also innovatively commissioned for the development of long-term mass transit network for the feasibility of transport in the city. The financing was started in 2015 with the soft loan of 1.55b dollars. The phase 2 of the project started in 2016 and first test ran in 2018. This project has been through a bumpy road of non-completion and expected to be completed this year in October 2020.
Denico has executed six themes of analysis, after analyzing literature of good 86 articles, which are considered as conceptual framework to review the project of OLMT. Following are the themes which will help critically analyze the OLMT project:
1. Decision-making behavior
The poor performance through decision making is significantly related in literature of mega projects. This is due to the behavioral faults and faulty assessments with regards to the benefits and cost of the project. In addition to that, executives of the project usually misrepresent the trust in order to satisfy their personal interests. The behavior of the decision makers are resulted in unsuccessful outcomes as their behavior towards policies are obstinate and inflexible.
In the OLMT project, it was assessed that it will be completed by 2017 but unfortunately not completed yet. Every passing year, the government announced the running of train for public in particular year. This has been delaying due to the defective evaluation and calculation of time with respect to finalization of project.
In addition to that, the cost of project was estimated incorrect as later on, it become double to what evaluated earlier. According to a senior official working on the project, the rolling stock, track, electrical and mechanical work s costs are almost double than civil structure. The higher cost and faulty assessment has made the government pay money through loans and thus, delayed the project overall.
2. Strategy, Governance and Procurement
This involves the processes during the initiation and planning which reflects the front-end stage of the project. The decisions are made initially about the three main components that are role and responsibilities of the entities throughout the life cycle of project, formal and informal authority at both, institutional level and individual level and lastly, strategy to organize in terms of relation to the partners to get the best delivery or outcome.
For the front to end stages, the written details are the foremost requirement as a great amount of money has to spend on it. In addition, the officials and those informally associated should have an organized definition and clarity of role and responsibilities that must be stated beforehand. The OLMT is considered as star project of previous PML-N government. The contractors were asked to show a detailed presentation which they were dearth of.
Additionally, the officials were given dead line by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to complete the project till May 2019. Still the government failed to meet the direction due to the litigation on heritage sites and the land acquisition problems. This delay means that the strategy or planning for the organized running of project has been neglected from the beginning.
3. Risk and Uncertainty
It involves the process of technological development and decision making strategy to overcome the risk or uncertainties in mega projects. The technological originality to preemptively work on risk management and the preparedness for uncertain situations. There is a need of flexibility in the decision making process as well as there must be no time constraints. It has been observed that OLMT is equipped with a good quality and non-joint tracks of international standards. The metro line constructed before in the capital has been found doomed due to the infrastructure and technology faults. The Orange Line Metro Train is fully automatic and driverless, which leaves no compromise on standards can be taken at any cost. For instance, it will solely work on electricity which is again a high risk in a state like Pakistan. A good management will be highly required for regular check on working.
Leadership is something required for any project to fulfil under the supervision and a hard working team and the relationship between the two. In a country like Pakistan, there is lacking sense of project culture and thus a misalignment can be observed. There should be a team work where the project must be design in a way to damage less and provide much gains and long term gains to the state collectively. According to a study more than 40 schools and colleges demolished for the making of a train track which is a huge responsibility on the leadership and the team.
5. Stake-holder engagement and management
It includes the structure formation under certain norms where it is necessary to engage stakeholders and community in the activities of project. Mosque, Churches, residential blocks, private businesses, traditional places, schools and colleges are either demolished fully or partially or threatened. This has terrified the general public and showed resentment at larger scale.
6. Supply-Chain integration and coordination
It involved the integration of projects and sub projects and their commercial relationship. The primary cause of the poor performance is the independent working and lacking coordination at different levels. This OLMT project has also been designed on the poor understanding of architecture. It has destroyed many local businesses and important buildings which means that the route is not thoroughly coordinated and integrated.
These six themes are considered as gist to understand the loop holes in the successful regulation of mega projects from start till end. It is important to take up these points under consideration by the government for the large scale projects so to secure their trust of people and to take the country one step ahead.
Pakistan as developing country needs to learn from other states and specially the literature that have been produced. There is a dire need to move step by step towards mega projects by understanding what has been missed and must not be taken for granted. Followings are some main learnings for the upholding of future mega projects:
• Priority of customer satisfaction
• Involving key decision makers from institutional to supply chain levels
• Organizational responsiveness
• Skill and team work
• Management culture growth
• Develop penalties for ignoring or providing misleading information
• Introduce the option to defer to further assess risks
• The economic viability and avoid over commitment
• Control and flexibility for political maneuvering
• Emphasize on shorter pre-construction phase
• Higher probability of cost overrun
• Adopt integrated project teams to deliver the project
• Focus on simplification to avoid risks
• Regular reports
• Integration of stake holders and general masses
• Integration of projects and sub projects
• No compromise on Tech
• Competitive structures
• Performance measurement
• Multi check and balance system
These are only the basic and the focused measure that Pakistan should look forward in order to achieve long term and successful results. The first step that state should focus on is to research in order to understand the differences that Pakistan as a separate country faces. New studies must develop to learn from other states as well and to discuss the similarities and differences from other states. Still a key rule for these developmental mega project is to manage, evaluate and integrate for high performance.
How to manage cities in the post Covid-19 period?
The International Urban Cooperation Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (IUC-LAC), funded by the European Union, presents IUC-LAC Open Dialogues, the first publication on lessons learned and recommendations to help cities face the ‘new normality’, the post-COVID 19 deconfinement period.
Redesigning urban spaces, promoting greater use of renewable resources or reshaping our industries are some of the conclusions of this project, which has brought together more than 30 cities in Europe and Latin America with the aim of rethinking their cities in the face of this unprecedented scenario.
IUC-LAC Open Dialogues looks to capitalise on the added value created by international urban cooperation between European cities that were heavily impacted by the pandemic, and those in Latin America and the Caribbean, which are currently at the peak of the pandemic. Tourism, public space, mobility and transport, green and smart economy and climate resilience are some of the issues addressed by this publication.
According to Sandra Marín, head of the publication and City to city cooperation Coordinator of the IUC-LAC Programme, the aim of the publication “is to serve as an inspiration for governments to rethink their cities from innovative and people-centred perspectives”.
Some of the voices included in this publication are mayors, technicians, companies, networks, associations and representatives of the European Union who are bringing their particular expertise to this publication. European cities such as Madrid, Rome, Turin, Porto and Zagreb share their points of view with Latin American cities such as Cartagena, Buenos Aires, Rosario, Arequipa and Barranquilla, among others.
Good practices in cities
One of the best practices in terms of public space is the City Card service in Genoa (Italy), one of the cities participating in the publication. This service is a new tool that calculates the spatial and temporal distribution of visitors in tourist attractions and allows the reorganization of services, guaranteeing that the safety distance is met.
With regard to mobility and transport, the case of Turin (Italy) stands out. This city has launched a pilot project for the use of hybrid cars with geofencing, a system with an algorithm that allows them to change their engine to electric when they enter the city centre. The one in Turin is the first pilot using this technology in the world.
In terms of the green economy, the case of Pavlos Melas (Greece) is remarkable. They are boosting their economic recovery by giving priority to environmental recovery, investing in drinking water, clean air or clean energy, and organising their investment on the basis of spatial justice criteria, whereby the most vulnerable communities receive more financial support.
Concerning climate resilience, the publication reviews the case of the municipality of Almada (Portugal), which works as a “global player”, since, according to the Head of the Department of Innovation and the Environment, Catarina Freitas, “it is necessary to review the financing framework in order to meet global demands while carrying out local management”.
The publication, developed by the Latin America and Caribbean regional delegation, is part of the International Urban Cooperation programme (IUC), led by the European Union’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio) and the Foreign Policy Instrument (FPI). Throughout the IUC programme, 165 cities from 23 EU Member States and 11 other countries from all regions of the world have participated.
The publication examines this new pandemic, a unique moment in history for cities, from an optimistic perspective. In fact, according to Vilnius (Lithuania) Urban Development Director, Ruta Matoniene, “it is a time to learn and reinvent ourselves, for new plans, designs and ideas”. Verónica Ramírez, from the Smart City Cluster in Spain, comments that “municipalities did not respond to the need for digital transformation before, and now this need is being used to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic”.
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