AFD in Latin America and the Caribbean
Didier Mercier, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of AFD, and Jean-Michel Blanquer, President of Institut des Amériques (IdA), signed a partnership agreement at the Maison de l’Amérique latine on Thursday 22 September following a debate about the book entitled "Les enjeux de développement en Amérique latine" (Development Challenges in Latin America).
The study "Les enjeux de développement en Amérique latine", conducted by IdA at AFD’s request, is now available in French and Spanish and provides a comprehensive overview of Latin America. This region is experiencing robust growth, yet needs to face economic, social and environmental challenges. It provided AFD with an accurate diagnostic on which to base its operations shortly after it started its activities in Mexico and Colombia and two years after it began its operations in Brazil. In 2010, AFD Group commitments in Latin America and the Caribbean reached €1.3 billion.
Building on these initial successes, AFD, the main operator for French cooperation, and IdA, one of the main actors monitoring Latin American matters, wished to step up and structure their relations by setting them out in a partnership agreement. This agreement provides for joint working topics over the next few years, including studies on the challenges of education and vocational training in Latin America and on development processes in the Caribbean.
About Institut des Amériques
Institut des Amériques is made up of a Scientific Interest Group (SIG) gathering over 50 universities and research institutes and an endowment fund. Its purpose is to conduct an excellence project in the fields of humanities and social sciences, languages and civilizations in the Americas. Institut des Amériques gathers and coordinates studies on the Americas by developing a pan-American and transdisciplinary approach to societies on the American continent, thus creating a network for education, research, scientific and technical information, partnerships and international cooperation. It consequently provides a forum for exchanges and cooperation between scientific communities, which is open to actors from political, diplomatic, economic and media spheres and not-for-profit organizations. Its mission is based on five areas: education and training; research; scientific and technical information; international relations; partnerships and development.
Aerial tramway in Medellin (Colombia), Bus Rapid Transit system in Curitiba (Brazil)... The continent is at the cutting edge of innovation in urban mobility. Nathalie Le Denmat and Marie-Pierre Bourzai, AFD experts, explain how the Latin American approach has revolutionized the way urban mobility is designed and how AFD is supporting this innovation.
Latin America’s megacities are extremely dynamic when it comes to urban transport. Is this recent?
No, the City of Curitiba invented the concept of Bus Rapid Transit1 (BRT) systems back in the 1970s. Medellin invented the aerial tramway about ten years ago. But it was especially in the 2000s that public transport and urban mobility became a real priority for Latin American governments after decades of underinvestment in the sector.* Over fifteen Latin American cities now have BRT systems.
What is the aim of these urban mobility projects?
The great interest of the Latin American approach lies in the fact that urban and transport planning combines several core objectives such as urban decongestion, of course, to reduce car traffic and therefore make cities more productive and reduce greenhouse gases.
It also seeks to improve social integration, for example in Medellin, the aerial metrocable has been combined with a comprehensive policy to give communities in disadvantaged neighborhoods access to the city’s economic, social, health and cultural resources. Officials in Medellin even speak about an Integral Urban Program.
Finally, this integrated urban mobility policy provides an excellent way to develop and regenerate urban spaces. A Bus Rapid Transit system can deteriorate public spaces if it is not combined with a plan to develop the areas along its route.
Can these projects be reproduced on other continents, in Africa for example?
These dynamics can be implemented in cities which have reached a certain level of maturity. This is the case in Latin America where the urbanization rate tops the 80% mark and where there is an extremely high level of vehicle ownership.**
Some African cities first need to develop road infrastructure. Having said this, it is vital to start anticipating a city’s requirements by 2025 now and to begin integrating ways to deploy a public transport network that safeguards economic viability, the environment and neighborhood quality of life into development strategies for urban spaces.
What type of projects does AFD support?
It all depends on the short and medium term needs of the city. We try to convince our partners to integrate a comprehensive, planned and long-term vision of urban development. However, this type of choice is not always possible for States or local authorities that are strapped for resources and must meet immediate needs.
What is clear is that we do think in terms of integrated city development in the urban projects we finance and support. It is no longer a question of building a road or creating a public transport line without thinking of how it can be integrated into a more comprehensive city development program that combines the economy with quality of life.
What lessons have you learned from our support for urban projects in Latin America?
We have learned a lot about project management methods, as well as about how to mobilize communities and get people involved in projects. We have also learned a lot about the financial aspects. The lessons we have learned in Latin America guide us in our work in other geographical areas.
1Box: Bus Rapid Transit system
A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a bus line designed and operated with the aim of guaranteeing a service similar to other public transport systems, such as tramways or metros, but at a lower cost.
The main features of a BRT include high frequency services; guaranteed travel time and regular services; a relatively high speed; extended operating hours; a high quality information system: travel time, waiting times, frequency, etc.
These features require specific equipment and facilities compared to classic bus lines, including equipment on certain road sections or along the entire route, often with an exclusive right-of-way; priority at traffic lights; greater visibility than with classic lines via, for example, signage and the way stops and rolling stock are designed.
Indeed, the investment effort required to develop a BRT line, even with an exclusive right-of-way, is much lower than for the construction of a railway line and provides much more flexible redevelopment opportunities.
* This boost to investment is extremely positive for a region where the interruption in deregulation in the transport sector, which was widespread in the 1980s, led to a haphazard development of low and medium capacity transport services operated by small private companies. This proved disastrous for the city, the environment and users. Ed.
** Number of cars for a given population.
L’AFD a signé une convention avec la ville de Curitiba (Brésil), le 19 juillet dernier. Ce financement, d’un montant de 36,15 millions d’euros, s’inscrit dans le programme de développement des transports collectifs et de préservation de la biodiversité de la municipalité brésilienne.
Le projet vise à construire une ligne de « Bus Rapid Transit » le long de la linha verde, une ancienne autoroute requalifiée en « boulevard urbain ». Il permettra de préserver un corridor écologique au cœur de l’agglomération, sur les rives du Barigüi, en réaménageant des espaces naturels et en réintégrant la flore locale.
Avec 1,7 million d’habitants, la municipalité de Curitiba, capitale de l’Etat du Paraná, a opté depuis les années 1960 pour un plan d’urbanisme particulièrement novateur qui comprend notamment un métro de surface constitué de bus articulés se succédant chaque minute.
Aujourd’hui, plus de 2 millions de personnes utilisent ces bus chaque jour. Ce système de transport très performant, avec un billet unique, est aujourd’hui relayé sur le continent latino-américain, notamment en Colombie avec le Transmilenio.
Cette première signature de l’AFD au Brésil ouvre la voie à d’autres financements en faveur de collectivités brésiliennes autour du thème de la ville durable. Conformément à son mandat dans les pays émergents, l’AFD intervient au Brésil pour financer des politiques publiques qui promeuvent une croissance plus sobre en ressources naturelles, plus économe en gaz à effet de serre et plus équitable, tout en favorisant le lien avec l’expertise française. Présente dans le pays depuis 2007, l’Agence concentre ses actions dans les secteurs du développement urbain, des transports publics, de l’énergie, de l’eau et l’assainissement.
Vidéo : "Curitiba, une ville durable"
€3m grant to the Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF) to finance studies and technical cooperation in the urban sector.
CAF is a multilateral institution mainly held by 18 Latin American countries. Its mission is to promote the sustainable development and regional integration of its member countries. The grant aims to contribute to the economic development of urban regions and make the regions concerned more competitive by helping to improve transport, the mobility of persons and the exchange of goods and services.
This project will also have positive impacts on the climate and will give populations greater access to basic services. This will have beneficial effects on their health and their access to economic opportunities. It is financed with resources from the Latin America Investment Facility (LAIF). These resources are additional to the €200m loan allocated to CAF by AFD in December 2010, earmarked for investments in sustainable services (with a focus on mobility, energy, water and sanitation) for Latin American populations.
Working Paper N°112 | Charbon de bois et sidérurgie en Amazonie brésilienne : quelles pistes d’améliorations environnementales ? L’exemple du pôle de Carajas
The pig iron sector of Carajas, in the Brazilian Amazon, uses charcoal which is strongly criticized because of the charcoal production direct and indirect impacts on deforestation and forests degradation.
This publication identifies and analyzes some alternatives to decrease the charcoal production environmental negative externalities and the main technical, economic and institutional factors that may limit their adoption. Several alternatives are possible, based on more efficient carbonization technologies, reforestation or afforestation of degraded lands, and, to a lesser extent, the use of reduced impact logging’s residues. Some of the alternatives are cost-efficient in the long term and financing support is available to promote their adoption. Land tenure and environmental regularization is a necessary pre-requisite for their expansion.
AFD’s Board of Directors approved a €2m grant to Mexico’s National Forestry Agency (CONAFOR) to finance the sustainable management of its forests. These funds are provided by Europe’s Latin America Investment Facility (LAIF) set up by the European Union.
Mexico, an emerging country with 110 million inhabitants, is responsible for 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the world’s 13th largest emitter of these gases. The government set out to combat climate change very early on and has implemented a national voluntarist strategy to combat polluting emissions. In December 2010, AFD allocated a €300m loan to Mexico to support its efforts to implement its climate change plan, particularly in the forestry sector. This new financing, in partnership with the Spanish cooperation agency (AECID), will be earmarked to reproduce the pilot project for sustainable forest management financed by AFD in the State of Jalisco. This project is both innovative and emblematic and was cited as an example by the European Commission during the Cancun Conference to announce the creation of “climate windows”.