City2City
Air pollution kills – Evidence from a global analysis of exposure and poverty
Globally, poor air quality is estimated to cause some 7 million deaths each year, as it increases the risk of a wide range of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Yet the exposure to and impact of air pollution are not equally distributed. Air pollution is particularly prevalent in industrializing developing economies. Less stringent air quality regulations, the prevalence of older polluting machinery and vehicles, subsidized fossil fuels, congested urban transport systems, rapidly developing industrial sectors, and cut-and-burn practices in agriculture are all contributing to heightened pollution levels. The lack of affordable quality healthcare services further increases air pollution related mortality.

Air pollution kills – Evidence from a global analysis of exposure and poverty

Originally posted on 18 May 2022 on World Bank Blogs | Authors: JUN RENTSCHLER and NADIA LEONOVA

Traffic and pollution, Cairo, Egypt. Photo: Kim Eun Yeul / World Bank Traffic and pollution, Cairo, Egypt. Photo: Kim Eun Yeul / World Bank

And within countries, poorer and marginalized communities are often more exposed. Low-paying jobs are more likely to require physical outdoor labor, leading to heightened exposure. Pollution sources, such as industrial plants or transport corridors, are disproportionately located in low-income neighborhoods. And as air pollution increases, housing prices go down, which in turn reinforces the low-income status of neighborhoods. In short, as health, well-being, and productivity suffer, air pollution can reinforce socio-economic inequalities .

Figure 1. Average annual PM2.5 concentrations in Southeast Asia 

Chart 1

Source: Rentschler & Leonova (2022) based on van Donkelaar et al (2021)

Poor people’s exposure to harmful air pollution.

While many studies have focused on air pollution in rich countries, a better understanding of the interplay between air pollution and poverty is crucial for several reasons. Studies from high-income countries on the health risks associated with air pollution may not be directly transferable to low-income communities, where the nature of occupations and healthcare differ substantially . The health and productivity implications of air pollution will impact the socio-economic prospects of developing countries. This is especially significant in low-income countries, which tend to still have relatively low anthropogenic air pollution levels compared to more industrialized middle-income countries. Here, there is still an opportunity to ensure that development progress does not come hand in hand with intensifying air pollution and the associated detrimental effects on health and well-being .

2.8 billion people face hazardous air pollution levels

In a new study, we provide a comprehensive account of the relationship between ambient (outdoor) air pollution exposure, economic development, and poverty in 211 countries and territories. It presents global exposure estimates for the World Health Organization’s 2021 revised fine particulate matter (PM2.5) thresholds. In addition, we provide estimates of the number of poor people exposed to unsafe PM2.5 concentrations. The findings are based on high-resolution air pollution and population maps with global coverage, as well as subnational poverty estimates based on harmonized household surveys.

Our estimates show that globally 7.3 billion people, or 94 percent of the world population, face air pollution levels considered unsafe by the WHO (annual average PM2.5 concentration over 5 μg/m3). For 2.8 billion people pollution levels are hazardous – with PM2.5 concentrations over 35 μg/m3, which implies a mortality rate that is more than 24 percent higher than in safe areas.

Figure 2. Share of population exposed to PM2.5 concentrations over 15 μg/m3

Figure 2

One in ten people exposed to unsafe air pollution live in extreme poverty

We estimate that 716 million people living in extreme poverty, calculated as living on less than $1.90 per day, are directly exposed to unsafe PM2.5 concentrations; of these, 405 million, or 57 percent are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Further, 275 million people living in extreme poverty are exposed to hazardous PM2.5 concentrations (over 35 μg/m3). Approximately one in ten people exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution live in extreme poverty –making them particularly vulnerable to prolonged adverse impacts on their livelihoods and well-being. For the extreme poor, the same air pollution level likely means increased severe health risks compared to higher income households, as the effects of air pollution are compounded by other poverty risk factors in addition to inequitable access to affordable healthcare.

Pollution is highest in middle-income countries

Yet, the estimates also show that the vast majority of people breathing unsafe air are located in middle-income countries, where 5.5 billion people are exposed to hazardous PM2.5 levels (over 35 μg/m3) – compared to just 40.5 million in low- and high-income countries combined. As a share of the overall population, PM2.5 exposure is also by far the highest in middle-income countries. About 64.5 percent of people in lower-middle-income countries are exposed to PM2.5 levels over 35 μg/m3, compared to just 4.4 percent in low-income countries and 0.9 percent in high-income countries .

global exposure

Towards healthier lives and better livelihoods

Our study affirms the case for targeted measures that reduce the pollution intensity of economic growth – for instance, supporting the uptake of clean technologies and fuels. In addition, measures are needed to directly address the disproportionate exposure of poor people to pollution. For example, improving the provision of affordable and adequate healthcare in large urban centers can help reduce mortality. Mandating transparent accounting for environmental and health externalities in planning decisions can help to steer pollution sources, like industrial zones, away from low-income communities. Finally, removing incentives that perpetuate the over-consumption of polluting fuels can yield a double dividend for poor people. For instance, fossil fuel subsidies are well documented to benefit richer households disproportionately, but the air pollution externalities associated with subsidized fossil fuel consumption are also a burden that can be borne disproportionately by poorer households.

Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/air-pollution-kills-evidence-global-analysis-exposure-and-poverty

Nature-based solutions for resilient cities and restoring local biodiversity
Working with nature to strengthen urban resilience can be cost-effective for addressing climate adaptation and mitigation while bringing out broader benefits for biodiversity, communities, and the local economy. The restoration of the urban wetlands in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is just one example of how improving flood control can go hand in hand with boosting species richness and supporting urban farmers.  

Nature-based solutions for resilient cities and restoring local biodiversity

Originally posted on 19 May 2022 on World Bank Blogs

Authors:

Aerial view of a park with green trees and purple flowers in the city of Assuncion, Paraguay.

Lapachos rosados (Handroanthus impetiginosus), a native species, are an important refugia for birds in Asuncion, capital city of Paraguay. Photo: World Bank Environment.

Such nature-based solutions (NBS) like urban park development and river restoration are found to lead to an estimated 67% increase in species richness.  Achieving both resilience and biodiversity outcomes requires an integrated approach covering protection (local habitats that are still in good ecological conditions), restoration (of degraded ecosystems), or creation of new interventions if needed (Figure 1). These NBS need to be purposefully planned, designed, monitored, and maintained. Below are some practical steps for maximizing the biodiversity outcomes of an NBS.

Infographic showing nature-based solutions in cities.

Figure 1: Achieving both resilience and biodiversity outcomes from NBS projects requires an integrated approach covering the hierarchy of protect, restore and create. Source: World Bank Global NBS team.

1. Understanding the problem

In designing NBS that will benefit biodiversity and ecosystem services, the first step is to do initial screening to understand the environmental characteristics of the project area. Whether it’s erosion, floods, water quality or urban heat, it is critical to understand the origin and the drivers of the problem, the local environment, the stakeholders involved and the regulatory framework. Strong biodiversity baseline studies and stakeholder engagement are requirements for a proper NBS intervention selection that can benefit biodiversity, and innovations such as the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) are providing new ways of establishing such a baseline.

Free databases and tools to understand the ecological context of your project area

2. Building upon local biodiversity

Biodiversity is a basis for establishing a resilient ecosystem, and diverse ecosystems provide essential ecological services for humans such as food, timber, pollination, and climate mitigation. NBS must be designed to bring back local nature to increase environment benefits, while simultaneously restoring ecosystem services for providing climate functions such as flood control or carbon storage.

Single-species vegetation interventions such as monoculture reforestation result in limited fauna diversity and often store less carbon than diverse landscapes. Similarly, wetland restoration that is not designed taking into account the local drivers of degradation, species preference to salinity, and the interrelations among species risks failing in the attempt.

Using native species instead of introducing exotic species for NBS interventions in urban areas is more likely to boost biodiversity outcomes and offer more ecosystem services to urban dwellers, including air purification, irrigation, shade and production of flowers and fruits for birds.

3. Designing for scale

When designed well, the total biodiversity contribution can be larger than the sum of the individual interventions. An interconnected network of green and blue interventions enhances the generation of ecosystem services and increases species richness. NBS interventions within cities need to be informed by a disaster risk assessment to optimize climate resilience objectives and by a biodiversity assessment to maximize environmental outcomes. Scattered individual NBS interventions in a city can be effectively interlinked by green corridors to allow for ecological connectivity and boost biodiversity.  Especially important in cities, is the recovery of riparian areas, true corridors, and refugia for displaced fauna.

Image
Figure 2: Infographic showing nature-based solutions in cities.

Figure 2: Urban level NBS can be optimized for addressing climate resilience and biodiversity outcomes by considering larger scales and ensuring connectivity. Source: World Bank/GFDRR, 2021; designs by Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners.

4. Establishing a baseline and tracking biodiversity goals

NBS projects aiming to strengthen biodiversity should include specific result indicators to measure their impact. Biodiversity indicators can track various aspects of an NBS intervention, including scale (hectares of natural area restored), improvements in biodiversity from the baseline (species richness, abundance, community composition, ecological connectivity), and the longer-term biodiversity gains or ecosystem services. The selection of biodiversity indicators depends on the scale of intervention, the available baseline data, and the monitoring ability and capacity of the implementing agency to ensure appropriate reporting. The baseline study (step 1) should help inform the biodiversity indicators that can be used.

5. Maintaining and managing

The climate resilience and biodiversity benefits of NBS take time to establish and require continuous monitoring, maintenance, and adaptive management to ensure the continued effectiveness of the NBS. For example, newly planted mangrove trees require over five years to reach their maximum storm wave reduction effectiveness, as the trees grow taller and root systems expand. Investment projects with a limited time duration should therefore ensure that a strong management plan is put in place that continues after project closure and that has sufficient funding (or financial instruments designed) and the government team has the technical capacity to ensure the sustainability of biodiversity gains. Working with communities and using new technology, such as the successful community-driven tree planting campaign in Freetown, can be an effective way to ensure sustainability after project closure.

NBS for climate resilience provide a unique opportunity to address climate change and biodiversity loss in an integrated way. The World Bank’s new Climate Change Action Plan and financing from its fund for the poorest, the International Development Association (IDA), can lead to greater investments by countries to tackle their nationally determined contributions (Paris Agreement) and biodiversity commitments (agreement forthcoming with the adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework). Acting now and sharing experiences on NBS can provide the inspiration and interest needed to increase resilience of people and nature.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is supporting the scaling up of NBS globally through the Global Program for Nature-based Solutions for Climate Resilience, which is implemented in partnership across the Urban, Resilience and Land (URL), Water, and Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy (ENB) Global Practices.

Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/nature-based-solutions-resilient-cities-and-restoring-local-biodiversity

Building disaster resilience among the vulnerable
Natural disasters cause billions of dollars in losses each year, but the damage estimates don’t tell the full story of their impact. The gravity of any loss depends on whom it affects, and the poorest people typically bear a much larger brunt of a natural disaster’s consequences.  With climate change bringing more frequent and severe natural hazards, ensuring a resilient recovery for all requires a better understanding of the impacts that policies can have – and particularly on the most vulnerable people. Experience shows that a wide range of relatively low-cost and effective measures can save lives and protect hard-earned development gains in the wake of disasters. 

Building disaster resilience among the vulnerable

by ALVINA ERMAN and RUI SU | Originally posted on 

Fiji post Tropical Cyclone Winston. Photo: World Bank / Vlad Sokhin.

Fiji post Tropical Cyclone Winston. Photo: World Bank / Vlad Sokhin.

One such measure is the Unbreakable Resilience Indicator developed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and hosted by the World Bank.  Unlike typical disaster risk assessments that estimate expected asset loss, this indicator takes into account that $1 in asset losses does not mean the same to a well-off person as it does to a poor person. The indicator’s three tools ─ the country tool, the policy tool, and the advanced tool ─ measure the risk to well-being associated with asset losses and help a user understand several things: 

  1. Expected annual disaster losses to assets, well-being, and social resilience at the national level. which can be compared with other countries 
  2. Which policy measures result in the largest avoided losses and build resilience most efficiently on a global and country level 
  3. How changing a certain input in the model will affect the overall social resilience and expected asset losses and well-being losses of a specific country 

What is the most impactful policy mix?  

The country tool provides a bird’s eye view of current conditions, such as where a country excels or falls short in different resilience factors. It is based on a simple model that calculates asset and well-being losses for multiple hazards such as floods, windstorms, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Socioeconomic resilience is then estimated as the ratio (0-100%) of expected asset losses to expected well-being losses. A larger socioeconomic resilience means that a country’s population can experience larger asset losses while maintaining its well-being. A resilience level of 50% means that $1 in asset losses from a disaster results in a loss of well-being equivalent to a $2 drop in national in income.  

Unbreakable Resilience Indicator

Take Malawi as an example. The country tool shows that assets equivalent to 1.01% of Malawi’s GDP are at risk from disasters, but because the country’s socioeconomic resilience is merely 59.6%, the risk to well-being is even higher, equivalent to 1.69% of GDP.  The tool reveals that socioeconomic resilience is lower because social protection in Malawi is far below global average, and people’s incomes are also meager. These shortcomings undercut people’s capacity to cope with disaster shocks, therefore magnifying disasters’ impacts on their well-being. The policy tool helps determine where to focus resilience-building efforts. It ranks the effectiveness of policy measures in terms of the annual avoided asset and well-being losses. Universal access to finance, for example, could reduce annual well-being losses in Malawi by 3.1%, or $7 million. 

The gravity of any loss depends on whom it affects, and the poorest people typically bear a much larger brunt of a natural disaster’s consequences.

Beyond an individual country’s context, the policy tool can also compare the benefits of different policy actions across countries globally or within certain regions. For instance, the policy tool suggests that while the Philippines can avert the most asset and well-being losses in absolute terms if it implements a full-coverage early warning system, Cambodia could benefit the most in relative terms (as a percentage of current losses). That is, Cambodia can reduce its current well-being losses by 21% and asset losses by 20% with universal early warning systems, a remarkable contribution to strengthened resilience. 

After understanding the country contexts and policy impacts, the advanced tool allows users to manipulate the input indicators to the model to evaluate the impact of specific policy actions and goals, in terms of their benefits. For example, for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, if we can decrease the poor’s exposure to riverine and coastal flood from 0.6% to 0.5%  and expand access to early warning from 40% to 60%, we can make a sizeable difference in disaster outcomes. The risk to assets (as a percentage of GDP) will be cut by 0.11 percentage points by these actions, and socioeconomic resilience will simultaneously grow by 6.64 percentage points. The synergies will result in the overall risk to well-being indicator declining to 1.30% from 1.69%. 

At a time when we increasingly see how poverty and exclusion exacerbate the impacts of disasters, these accessible yet impactful tools enable policymakers to avoid the worst disaster outcomes and support equitable growth. We cannot afford to neglect the vast potential of disaster risk management to rescue the vulnerable from the consequences of climate change. 

Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/climatechange/building-disaster-resilience-among-vulnerable

Mobility and resilience: A global assessment of flood impacts on urban road networks

Road transportation networks are the arteries of modern societies, connecting people to goods, critical public services, jobs, and each other. Yet, the growing density and connectivity of these networks make them more vulnerable to environmental shocks— heightened by a changing climate. So how exposed and vulnerable are transportation networks around the world? In a new Working Paper, we provide the first global evaluation of urban road networks in terms of both direct exposure to flood hazard, and indirect impacts due to city-wide travel disruptions and cascading failures. 

Mobility and resilience: A global assessment of flood impacts on urban road networks

Original article was posted on 1 June 2022 on World Bank Blogs

Authors: 

  • Yiyi HeCollege of Environmental Design at University of California, Berkeley
  • Jun Erik Rentschler, Senior Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for Sustainable Development
  • Paolo AvnerUrban Economist, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), World Bank

Ezra Acayan/NurPhoto

Road transportation networks are the arteries of modern societies, connecting people to goods, critical public services, jobs, and each other. Yet, the growing density and connectivity of these networks make them more vulnerable to environmental shocks— heightened by a changing climate. So how exposed and vulnerable are transportation networks around the world? 

In a new Working Paper, we provide the first global evaluation of urban road networks in terms of both direct exposure to flood hazard, and indirect impacts due to city-wide travel disruptions and cascading failures. We created a dataset of topological road networks for 2,564 cities in 177 countries, covering over 14 million kilometers of roads, and considered ten probabilistic flood scenarios (1:5 year to 1:1000-year return periods).

1 in 7 kilometers of urban roads is exposed to flood hazards

Our global exposure evaluation shows that 2 million kilometers (or 14.7 percent) of all urban road networks are directly exposed to some level of flooding in the 1-in-100-year flood scenario . More than 1 million kilometers of roads experience flooding greater than 1 meter.  Also, in some high-exposure cities, almost the entire road network could be affected. For more intense flood scenarios (i.e., higher return periods) the extent of the exposed road network increases systematically.

Figure 1. Network exposure and mobility: Road network inundation for different flood scenarios (left) and associated mobility disruptions (right)

Figure 1

Note: Percentage failed routes indicate the share of urban trips that cannot be completed in a flood scenario. Each dot in the scatterplot represents a city.

Even limited network exposure can result in drastic urban mobility disruptions

Flooding in certain road segments can disrupt mobility patterns across the whole city. In our study, we conducted thousands of travel simulations for each city to assess how local flood disruptions along roads could propagate across the network, impacting urban mobility. Our results show that these indirect mobility impacts, such as failed trips, travel delays, and travel distance increases, can far exceed direct network exposure.

On average, about 14.7 percent of urban road networks are estimated to be inundated by over 0.3 meters during a 1-in-100-year flood, but 44.8 percent of simulated trips fail in this flood scenario . For the remaining trips that are still possible, flood disruptions add, on average, 1.50 kilometers of detours, costing 3 minutes in additional travel times. Because of the interconnectivity of road networks, local floods can disrupt travel, with impacts on mobility that go far beyond the initially affected area.

Figure 2. Country-level summaries of direct and indirect impacts of flood hazard (1000-year scenario) on road networks and mobility: average travel delay (top-left), average percentage of failed routes (top-right), average percentage of road inundation (bottom-right), and average travel distance increase (bottom-left)

Figure 2

But the relationship between road network exposure and mobility disruption patterns differs significantly across countries and regions. Our research shows that generally, more intense flood scenarios lead to higher exposure and more urban travel disruptions. Yet, several countries show that even floods of lower intensities can induce trip failure rates of over 50 percent–this includes countries in central Africa (Mali and Sudan), southeast Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam), and Latin America (Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Honduras, Suriname, and Venezuela). In these countries urban mobility is particularly sensitive to flood hazards.

What determines the vulnerability of urban mobility?

Building on past studies on network topology and transport resilience, our study also examines the factors contributing to the high routing failure rates observed in the travel simulations. For example, we show that higher road density (as a proxy for network redundancy) can significantly reduce the risk of mobility disruptions, such as trip failures. Although road density can contribute positively to overall network resilience, it becomes less effective in more intensive flood scenarios.

This means that in practice, baseline investments in densifying urban road networks can strengthen the resilience of urban mobility. But targeted measures, starting at the most critical bottlenecks of the network, such as improving drainage, are also needed to protect against smaller local hazards. More systemic protection measures that mitigate large-area hazards are also needed, such as building seawalls or preserving natural wetlands. The data and results of this study help us to better understand flood risks to urban road networks and mobility patterns in 177 countries, allowing us to identify and prioritize urban resilience measures.

Download the study: He, Y., J. Rentschler, P. Avner; J. Gao; X. Yue, J. Radke. 2022. Mobility and Resilience : A Global Assessment of Flood Impacts on Road Transportation Networks. Policy Research Working Paper. 10049. World Bank. [pending peer review at journal] 

This study was supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

Better trains to decarbonize urban mobility in Greater Buenos Aires
Urban mobility in Buenos Aires is changing gradually as travelers move toward the use of private cars as a result of underinvestment in public transport in contrast with increased road investments and of growing urban sprawl based on high-income gated communities and low-income informal settlements.

Better trains to decarbonize urban mobility in Greater Buenos Aires

Originally published on 31 May 2022 by World Bank Blogs

Authors:

A train from the Belgrano Sur line in a level crossing| Carolina Crear / World Bank

A train from the Belgrano Sur line in a level crossing | Credit: Carolina Crear / World Bank

If you ever had the chance to visit beautiful Buenos Aires, you probably used its large and far-reaching public transport system, which includes 800 km of suburban rail tracks and one of the world’s most extensive bus networks, on which millions of people travel daily.

Despite this, urban mobility in Buenos Aires is changing gradually as travelers move toward the use of private cars as a result of underinvestment in public transport in contrast with increased road investments and of growing urban sprawl based on high-income gated communities and low-income informal settlements.

These trends were aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a temporary drastic drop in demand for public transport which has not fully recovered, as opposed to motorized traffic which is back to pre-pandemic levels. This increasing motorization is particularly affecting the poor, more reliant on public transport, and more vulnerable to disruptions in services caused by climate change impacts.

To address this challenge, the World Bank is working with the government of Argentina to modernize Buenos Aires’ suburban passenger rail system through track upgrades and extensions, station improvements, electrification, and transformation of level crossings.

In April 2021, a US$347 million loan was approved for the renovation of the Mitre Line, a commuter rail line connecting Retiro station, in the central business district, to the suburbs in the north and west of the Greater Buenos Aires. Another US$600 million loan to modernize and electrify the Belgrano Sur Line was recently approved in May 2022. This line connects the City of Buenos Aires with the southern part of its metropolitan area using diesel trains, providing accessibility to the most vulnerable and low-income areas of Greater Buenos Aires.

Holistic approach

In the design of these operations, we followed a holistic and integrated approach, involving aspects such as climate resilience, road safety, multimodality, gender equality, universal accessibility, sustainability, and efficiency.

First, the rail modernization projects will reduce transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a result of modal shift to rail and of the electrification of rail traction, reducing the reliance on diesel fuel and helping achieve Argentina’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Climate Agreement.  

The adaptation of railway infrastructure is also a priority, as climate change will increase the service disruptions caused by natural hazards (increased rainfall, flooding, heatwaves). In this sense, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery provided grant funds to study and identify measures to improve climate resilience (new design standards, revised maintenance, contingency programming to mitigate damages, losses, and disruptions, etc.), which will inform the preparation of executive designs for track renovation and new stations.

Second, level crossings affect rail service and pose a significant road safety risk. In fact, only in the City of Buenos Aires, 13 fatalities were registered in the Belgrano Sur line between 2009 and 2018. Vehicular level crossings in the City of Buenos Aires will be transformed into underpasses, with designs avoiding the separation or enclosing of spaces in communities where safety is a concern. Actions to upgrade stations and their surroundings will be informed by road safety audits to understand the highest risk. The projects also foster multimodality by introducing bicycle parking facilities at stations and contribute to urban integration, like the case of Barrio Padre Carlos Mugica which will benefit from a new station (Facultad de Derecho).

Third, both projects also aim to advance gender equality. Women rely more heavily on informal and public transport (50% versus 37%), 72% of women reported feeling unsafe when commuting (14 points more than men), and leadership positions in the transport sector are still dominated by men (71%).

With the goal of contributing to closing the gender gaps in the railway sector, we partnered with Safetipin to conduct “gender audits” of stations and their surroundings and to propose measures and design standards that improve safety, especially for women and the LGBTQ community.

The national railway infrastructure manager (ADIF) and operator (SOFSE) received training on Safetipin’s methodology and on best practices to generate safe spaces. Both projects will also provide universal accessibility by eliminating barriers affecting people with disabilities, which took part in the in-depth community consultation process carried out.

Finally, based on consultations with users of the railway system, the design of these projects put the focus on improving the reliability, frequency, and safety of commuter trains.

We are working closely with ADIF and SOFSE to create the conditions for enabling efficiency improvements through a predictive maintenance system and the monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPI). This is expected to improve punctuality and reliability. KPIs will also help optimize occupancy levels to avoid crowding and maximize the comfort and safety of passengers.

The increased efficiency will result in operational cost savings that would allow focusing on capital investments that will improve the infrastructure and rail service.

In this way, we are contributing to a greener, safer, and more inclusive public transportation system in Greater Buenos Aires so that its inhabitants can access employment and education opportunities, and social services.

We also hope that the next time you visit Buenos Aires you will have the chance to move around using its renovated railway system.

Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/latinamerica/better-trains-decarbonize-urban-mobility-greater-buenos-aires

Transitioning Economies, Transforming Climate: Financing Climate Action
The event includes videos laying out the climate finance landscape as well as young people expressing their hopes for climate action at COP27.

Transitioning Economies, Transforming Climate: Financing Climate Action for a Green and Inclusive Future

World Bank - IMF Spring Meetings 2022 | This event occurred on 21 April 2022

Description

The connection between development and climate change is increasingly clear: delivering on these together will require large-scale low-carbon and resilient investments. It will also require approaches that tackle the political economy of the low-carbon transition and help communities build long-lasting resilience to climate change. What are the investments needed to achieve a green, resilient and sustainable future? How can we unlock private finance for climate action? How are countries stepping up to the challenge?

This event considers the actions that are needed to create enabling environments, leverage different pools of capital at the right time, for specific needs, while involving communities and bringing them along in the global low-carbon, resilient transition. More information: http://wrld.bg/VEvv50Ivcz6 

Speakers

  • David R. Malpass, President of the World Bank Group
  • Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia
  • Makhtar Diop, Managing Director, IFC
  • Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Rhian-Mari Thomas, Chief Executive, Green Finance Institute
  • Yves Perrier, Chairman of the Board, Amundi
  • Mari Pangestu, Managing Director, Development Policy and Partnerships, World Bank
  • Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics
  • Auguste Kouamé, Country Director for the Republic of Turkey, World Bank
  • Hania Dawood, Manager, Climate Business Development and Strategy, IFC

Agenda

  • 00:00 Welcome! WBG Spring Meetings 2022 | Financing Climate Action
  • 03:09 Climate action, climate change, global public goods
  • 21:32 How climate finance works?
  • 25:14 Private capital in supporting climate action
  • 51:00 How to make climate finance tangible and action-oriented
  • 1:03:32 Social media conversation and poll results
  • 1:06:42 Live Q&A: How we can finance effective climate action
  • 1:19:59 COP27: What young people are looking to change on climate action
  • 1:22:58 Closure | Thanks for watching the WBG Spring Meetings 2022

Closed captions and video interpretations in 

ABOUT WBG SPRING MEETINGS 2022: Preparing for future crises and strengthening international cooperation are essential to deliver a resilient recovery and a better future for those most in need. At these Spring Meetings, the World Bank Group will convene leaders, experts and activists to discuss the impact of these global shocks on the most vulnerable communities. https://live.worldbank.org/JoinUs

ABOUT THE WORLD BANK GROUP: The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for low-income countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development. Learn more here: http://www.worldbank.org

Retrieved from https://live.worldbank.org/sm22/climate

Silver Hues: Building Age-Ready Cities
This report is intended as a policy document that helps articulate the idea of age-readiness while building on the idea of age-friendliness. It highlights the varied trajectories of aging and urbanization and draws on the experiences of older and more urban countries to show how others can become age-ready. It is intended for cities and towns as they prepare for an older urban age, offering examples and options to help younger cities visualize age-readiness while focusing primarily on the built urban environment.

Silver Hues: Building Age-Ready Cities

by World Bank | Originally published on 5 April 2022 | Authors: Maitreyi Bordia Das, Yuko Arai, Terri B. Chapman, and Vibhu Jain

DESCRIPTION

Cities and countries the world over are at the cusp of epochal global trends whose impacts are likely to be more intense and more far-reaching than those of similar trends in the past. The simultaneity of the demographic transition, deepening urbanization, a technological revolution, frequent shocks brought on by health and climate emergencies, mean that one will need to plan for an older and more urban future. Its main audience is intended to be policymakers, city leaders, and implementing agencies, but it is also expected be useful to researchers, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and communities.

CITATION

“Das, Maitreyi Bordia; Yuko, Arai; Chapman, Terri B.; Jain, Vibhu. 2022. Silver Hues : Building Age-Ready Cities. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/37259 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”

Access the full report here: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/37259

or download the full PDF of the report in the attached document.

How to support Central Asia build resilience against climate change and natural disasters
This article advocates for increased exchange of knowledge and technology to confront the accelerating frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards. It highlights the World Bank’s Strengthening Financial Resilience and Accelerating Risk Reduction in Central Asia program for risk-informed investment planning through multi-hazard risk assessments to protect lives and livelihoods across the region.

How to support Central Asia build resilience against climate change and natural disasters

Originally posted on World Bank Blogs on 22 April 2022

Authors:

Naryn River, Kyrgyz Republic

Naryn River, Kyrgyz Republic

Every person visiting Central Asia is impressed by the beauty of its distinctive landscape and nature: majestic mountains, alpine lakes and rivers, and vast steppes. But that beauty is under threat—seriously impacted by unsustainable anthropogenic activity. The tragedy of the Aral Sea is a stark reminder of how fragile our planet Earth is. The effects of climate change caused by human activity on nature is perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing us now.

The role climate change plays in exacerbating the intensity and frequency of natural disasters have long been established. More severe weather, wildfires, heat events, rise in sea level, and loss of ice caps are just some of the consequences of global warming that directly and indirectly endanger lives and livelihoods.

Central Asia is a region already particularly vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards, including floods, earthquakes, droughts, and mudslides. Over the past 30 years, the region suffered from 140 natural hazards—geophysical, hydrological, meteorological, and epidemiological events—that impacted more than 10 million people and caused more than $3.7 billion in damages.

We expect that with the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards and the growing exposure of people and assets to them, we will continue to see more climate-related disasters. In turn, the resources required for disaster response and recovery pose a significant burden on public finances and a huge toll on governments’ budgets, often diverting resources away from other much needed investments in infrastructure and services.

What can be done?

One approach is to work together as a region to coordinate our efforts in disaster risk management by exchanging knowledge, information, and technology, as disasters know no borders. There is also a need to shift the focus from response and recovery to prevention and preparedness, which would reduce the effects of disasters, enable more effective response, and thus better protect people and their well-being and safeguard developmental gains.

For the past three years, we at the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) have been implementing the Strengthening Financial Resilience and Accelerating Risk Reduction in Central Asia program (SFRARR, The Program), funded by the European Union. The Program supports all five Central Asian countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan— to improve financial resilience and risk-informed investment planning toward building disaster and climate resilience across the region.

A key focus of SFRARR is to enhance regional cooperation to better manage disaster risks in Central Asia. The Program partners with the Centre for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction, which provides a platform for regional cooperation between the governments in Central Asia. The Program has also been backing the work of the Regional Scientific and Technical Council for Emergency Situations (the Council), established in 2019. The Council provides technical advice and inputs as well as supports and enhances knowledge exchange and collaboration on a range of disaster-risk issues including natural hazards, hydrometeorology, and climate change.

SFRARR will produce a regional multi-hazard risk assessment, which is the product of inputs from and exchanges between the five Central Asian countries. Such a hands-on process pulls together stakeholders and communities across the region for a common purpose and contributes to enhancing regional cooperation essential for better protecting lives and livelihoods.

Beyond that, SFRARR contributes to prevention and preparedness in Central Asia by helping the countries to better understand and quantify disaster and climate risks for improved planning and decision-making. For example, data on the assets exposed to disaster and climate risks were collected and shared while a homogenized database of structures, infrastructure, and crop assets was assembled. This material went toward producing the regional multi-hazard risk assessment. This information and the eventual risk assessment it underlies will allow countries to know the amount, location and types of assets at risk—critical to devising appropriate preventive and preparation measures. 

Next steps

SFRARR will be completed by the end of 2023. Looking ahead, we will continue our work on finalizing the regional multi-hazard risk assessment for the region, support related technical activities for the five countries as needed, as well as organize regional workshops to share achieved results. We know that SFRARR is only a part of the much larger ongoing efforts on managing disaster risks and building climate resilience in Central Asia. Governments, people and other development partners are also working hard on other initiatives and efforts in this area.

As the world celebrates the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, it is important to remind ourselves of the fragility of our environment—we must invest in our planet today to ensure a brighter future tomorrow.

Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/europeandcentralasia/how-support-central-asia-build-resilience-against-climate-change-natural-disasters

For more information about the SFRARR Program, please contact Ms. Chyi-Yun Huang, Senior Urban Development and Disaster Risk Management Specialist, SCAUR at chuang@worldbank.org, or Mr. Stephan Zimmermann, Disaster Risk Management Specialist, GFDRR at szimmermann3@worldbank.org

Accessible sidewalks for inclusive cities
This article sheds light on Project Sidewalk, which is being implemented by the University of Washington’s Makeability Lab. It plans to assess the location and condition of every sidewalk in the world, through remote crowdsourcing and computer vision, to enhance their accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists, and urban residents – regardless of their disability, age, income, or other constraints.

Accessible sidewalks for inclusive cities

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Accessible sidewalks in Peru. World Bank

Accessible sidewalks in Peru. World Bank

Cities are where people come together to chase their dreams, connect with loved ones, and access vital services and opportunities to live better lives. So, it is crucial that people -- regardless of their disability, age, income, or other constraints — can get from one place to another independently, and without challenges. That makes accessible sidewalks vital.

To improve sidewalks so they are functional and accessible for all, Project Sidewalk has an ambitious plan to map and assess the location and condition of every sidewalk in the world, through a process that combines remote crowdsourcing and computer vision.

Inclusive development is a key priority for the World Bank, so naturally, we were curious to learn more about Project Sidewalk and spoke with its co-founder Jon Froehlich to understand their approach.

A screenshot of the digital process that Project Sidewalk uses to assess different sidewalks.

Project Sidewalk plans to map and assess the location and condition of every sidewalk in the world, through a process that combines remote crowdsourcing and computer vision.

What are the most common ways in which sidewalks are inaccessible to people with disabilities? 

Sidewalk barriers can impact people differently depending on their physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. For wheelchair users, common problems include the absence of steep street gradients, cross-slopes (sidewalk tilts), surface problems (such as degraded concrete or pavement), and other obstacles. These problems may be temporary – like cars parked on sidewalks, bikeshares blocking access, garbage cans, or more infrastructural and permanent like telephone poles, fire hydrants, and electrical boxes.

For persons who are blind or have low vision, crossing the street can be challenging - curb ramps require tactile surface indicators and pedestrian signals need audio options. Tripping hazards or unexpected barriers that are not easily observed with a cane are also problematic. For others, the lack of appropriate signs and crosswalks can reduce safety or cause confusion.

Regardless of specific mobility needs, from pushing strollers to bicycling, poorly designed or maintained sidewalks create safety hazards, impact physical movement, and reduce the quality of life. 

How do you see accessible sidewalks contributing to more inclusive cities?

Sidewalks play a crucial role in urban mobility and quality of life.  Ideally, sidewalks provide a safe space for pedestrians, help interconnect mass transit services, and serve as unique public spaces for food, commerce, and leisure. Without accessible sidewalks and accessible transit, a city excludes where and how people can travel.

How does this work in developing countries?

With our partners, Liga Peatonal, we have begun studying sidewalk conditions and human mobility in developing countries and see that often, concerns for pedestrian safety and well-being intersect with accessibility concerns. In Mexico City, nearly 55% of all fatal vehicular accidents involved a pedestrian. In our preliminary analysis of data on sidewalk conditions in Mexico compared to the United States, we found that curb ramps in Mexico were less common and when they did exist, were rated as less accessible. 

Across any municipality, designing and maintaining accessible, safe sidewalks require a complex mix of policy, local and national legislation, resources, and accountability. For example, Mexico City has passed their own local legislation and guidelines that go beyond national policies for sidewalk and transit accessibility.

Screenshot of Project Sidewalk on Google Maps

How has sidewalk accessibility become more urgent, given climate change?

Walking, rolling, and bicycling are the most environmentally sustainable forms of transportation and also connect pedestrians to mass transit. As the United Nations New Urban Agenda emphasizes, modern cities need well-designed sidewalks not just for equitability and walkability but to support local commerce and efficient transit.

Connecting sidewalk accessibility to cities’ economic interests, including commerce and sustainability, can show a bottom-line impact of safer sidewalks and prompt walkability/rollability improvements.

Once your project finds obstacles on streets and sidewalks, what steps can be taken to fix them?

In some cities, we have partnered directly with a transit department or municipality charged with urban planning and sidewalk improvements. In others, we work with advocacy or community organizations. Either way, the hope is to improve transparency, government accountability, community involvement, and, ultimately, sidewalk design and navigability with our data.

How do you engage diverse groups in Project Sidewalk?

When a governmental or community organization asks us to deploy in their city, we have a list of considerations, including the presence of a strong local partner, data collection plan, and the potential inclusion of people with disabilities in the collection or analysis of the data.

What do you aim by making your data and source code open for other people and organizations?

We strongly believe in open data and transparency to affect change and support people’s efforts to analyze and visualize our sidewalk datasets. For example, one user created a visualization of our Washington, D.C. data, which received local press coverage. Another integrated our Mexico data into an urban planning tool. These activities were only possible because of open data. Moreover, our codebase is also open source, and we have had contributions from over 50 developers.

With COVID-19, open spaces have become even more important in cities. Does Project Sidewalk have any plans to help make parks and shared open spaces more accessible?

This is a really important point. We have discussed ways of evaluating park accessibility at a large scale by modifying of our methods, but we have not yet made progress. We plan to work on this issue more as we go forward.

Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/accessible-sidewalks-inclusive-cities

Adapting Mobility-as-a-Service for Developing Cities: A Context-Sensitive Approach
This report contextualizes the concept of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) for cities in low- and middle-income countries, discussing how this powerful framework may advance sustainable mobility and development goals. To reap the greatest benefits, MaaS implementation requires government leadership, systematic thinking around societal goals, and new technical capabilities—all important capacities that may not be readily available in developing cities.

Adapting Mobility-as-a-Service for Developing Cities: A Context-Sensitive Approach

Report by The World Bank Group | Published on 2 December 2021

DESCRIPTION

  • People living in cities have more mobility options than ever before. Making the most out of expanding travel choices for cities and their residents will require integration among different mobility services. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) can provide an organizing framework for integrating multiple mobility options and shaping how they can work together to provide a more seamless travel experience and support broader development outcomes in developing cities. To begin building these capacities, this publication discusses the critical issues involved in deploying MaaS from the perspectives of supply, demand, technology, business, and governance.
CITATION
  • “Bianchi Alves, Bianca; Wang, Winnie; Moody, Joanna; Waksberg Guerrini, Ana; Peralta Quiros, Tatiana; Velez, Jean Paul; Ochoa Sepulveda, Maria Catalina; Alonso Gonzalez, Maria Jesus. 2021. Adapting Mobility-as-a-Service for Developing Cities: A Context-Sensitive Approach. Mobility and Transport Connectivity;. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/36787 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
URI

Access the full report here: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/36787