TheCityFix Labs México Launches First Technical Workshop for Select Sustainable Infrastructure Projects
On May 8, TheCityFix Labs México kicked off in Mexico City, convening seven project teams chosen from a competitive field to begin a year-long program of technical assistance. TheCityFix Labs is an initiative of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, with support from the Citi Foundation, designed to help cities prepare, finance and implement sustainable urban projects.
Around 50 delegates attended the workshop, including representatives of the seven projects selected last month from a pool of more than 130 projects, experts in sustainable infrastructure financing and private banking, technical experts, and legal advisors. The workshop highlighted the financial tools that can be used to develop innovative, sustainable infrastructure investments, which can become examples for other cities.
The workshop opened with remarks from Adriana Lobo, executive director of WRI México, who explained that the number of applications shows a clear interest in sustainable infrastructure. Similarly, she said the process highlights the need for Mexico to structure projects that are technically and financially viable.
"It’s exciting to have projects from different regions of the country, from the north with Hermosillo and Los Cabos, Mexico City, Guanajuato and Puebla, and from the south with projects in Cancún and Mérida,” said Lobo. “These projects focus on diverse themes: water management, public space with water-sensitive design, renewable energy and waste management.”
Albert Amos, senior manager of urban finance at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, explained the urgency of using innovative solutions to promote and channel financing of sustainable projects in cities.
"Cities represent 80% of the world's GDP and the majority of the world's population,” he said. “Therefore, today more than ever, it is essential that cities maintain and continue to expand basic infrastructure services, but in a sustainable manner.”
Historically, insufficient preparation for projects in the early stages and a lack of funding sources have been common problems in implementing sustainable infrastructure projects in cities.
“TheCityFix Labs México, and its parallel counterpart in India, are trying to develop innovative solutions to reduce these gaps,” said Amos. “To date, there are not many laboratories of this type, so these seven selected projects will serve as an innovative model to scale in Mexico as well as in other countries."
Financial experts emphasized that it is not possible to continue doing business as usual and that it’s necessary to explore new financing sources to develop sustainable infrastructure projects.
Lobo pointed out that this is the first technical advisory effort to holistically address existing gaps. "A year of hard work awaits us, and we hope to be able to mature these projects and shape them into a portfolio of projects that can be implemented," she concluded.
The selected projects include a water treatment and reuse plant from San Andrés de Cholula, Puebla State; a Bio-Cultural Park in Cerro de la Campana in Hermosillo Sonora; a biogas -to-energy power plant in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur; Schools for Climate Program in Guanajuato State, Cancún Park, in Quintana Roo; Sustainable Drainage Systems Project in Merida, Yucatan; and Restoration of Water Recharge Areas in the Chapultepec Forest, Mexico City.