International Seminar Discusses Financing Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in Brazilian Cities
Transit-oriented development (TOD) brings together both urban and transport planning and has been proven a model for creating compact and connected urban communities. However, despite its economic benefits, TOD still faces financing barriers in many Brazilian cities. Exploring for solutions to overcome this obstacle, the Seminar on Latin American Experiences of Financing TOD brought together experts and primary stakeholders to discuss ways of implementing TOD projects in Brazilian cities. The event, held on September 28 in São Paulo, was organized by WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities with strategic partners, including Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Climate and Society Institute (ICS), Citi Foundation and C40.
Divided into two sections, the seminar presented elements that make up a complete TOD project and highlighted financing mechanisms already in practice in Latin America. The discussion convened a diverse set of voices, with about 75 attendees and speeches by representatives of Toronto University, World Bank, Findeter (Financiera del Desarrollo, Colombia), SP Urbanismo (a public company on urbanization in São Paulo city), Ely & Prado and the city of Cali (Colombia).
Recognizing TOD as a Primary Tool for Creating Sustainable Cities
Henrique Evers, Urban Development Projects Coordinator of WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities, welcomed the audience by explaining the role of cities in sustainability and TOD: “Recently, we’ve changed not only our name, but also the scope of our work. We now work with cities in a much broader way. Part of this work involves considering cities as central and vital elements to the solution of global problems, such as water, climate and urban mobility. TOD is our first big step in this new path and, with this seminar, we hope to discuss solutions and study ways of implementing them in order to make cities a better place.”
Henrique Evers opened the Seminar Latin American Experiences on Financing TOD (Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities)
Benoit Lefevre, Energy and Climate Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, emphasized the importance of exchanging knowledge to solve urban problems: “We know that many cities today share the same problems and face the same challenges – increase of motorization rate, uncontrolled urban sprawling and non-sustainable growth. TOD is a tool to change reality in cities and that’s why we are going to discuss it here today. Because by debating and sharing ideas we can find new ways towards a more sustainable development."
Benoit Lefevre (Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities)
Drawing on Latin American Experiences for Financing TOD
TOD projects in Brazil often fail to get off of the ground because of a lack of financing. Thus, enabling TOD depends on innovative and diverse financing mechanisms for major urban projects. Addressing this cause, the second panel of the seminar brought together national and international experts to analyze successful examples of financing in Latin America.
The panel was moderated by Robin King, Director of Urban Development Director for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, who explained the importance of the discussion: “In this second section, we will explore some successful cases of financing TOD projects in Latin America and analyze the necessary mechanisms to implement them. The experiences we have today, more than different ideas of how to implement good projects, show us that – yes – it’s possible to make good and positive changes in our cities”. The panel also comprised Juan Manuel Robledo, Director of CIUDAT/Findeter, alongside Vanessa Velasco Bernal, Urban Development Expert of World Bank in Colombia, and Marcelo Fonseca Ignatios, Superintendent of Projects Organization at SP Urbanismo.
Robin King moderated the panel "Thinking about TOD financing: Latin American experiences" (Photo by Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities)
Robledo began the second discussion by explaining various financing instruments and pointed out the need to thoroughly analyze how individual projects can be financed: “There are many models and a series of conditions that need to be attended to in the financing of good TOD projects. It’s important to analyze funds, aspects that will demand these funds and how the investment will be realized. It’s a complex process, but it has the potential to create cities that are better developed and sustainable at the same time.”
The implementation process of a complete TOD project is neither simple nor fast. Nevertheless, cities have the necessary tools to make these changes—Sao Paulo, for example, recently utilized a public-private partnership to fund its Linha 4 metro line.
“The experiences shared here bring a series of lessons regarding what is necessary to implement TOD projects in Brazil. We have knowledge, tools and options. It’s a difficult and long term process, but we are sure about its effectiveness to transform cities and to really achieve transit-oriented development,” closed Henrique Evers.