TheCityFix Labs México Sparks Intersectoral Dialogues on Investing in Green Urban Infrastructure
On January 28th, WRI México convened experts to discuss how to catalyze the financing of green urban infrastructure within the framework of TheCityFix Labs México. TheCityFix Labs México is an effort of the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative, implemented by WRI México and supported by Citi Foundation, to help cities understand how to better finance green infrastructure projects in Mexico. By targeting waste management and energy efficiency, and working with both private and public support, these projects will help transform Mexican cities into more sustainable places.
Around 50 attendees participated in this dialogue from diverse sectors, including officials from the municipal, state and federal governments; private and multilateral banking representatives; and members of related organizations.
Carmenza Saldías, the former Secretary of Finance and Director of Planning for the city of Bogotá, kicked-off the event. She explained how Bogotá was able to strengthen municipal finances for urban transformation from 1995 to 2005. During this time, residents could pay an additional 10 percent in property taxes in exchange for social welfare.
“Governing a territory is understanding how taxes are generated, and then capture those revenues for the public interest,” explained Saldías.
The dialogue continued with Adriana Lobo, Executive Director of WRI México, who opened the discussion with an overview of the challenges of financing opportunities in Mexico and on the global scale. She invited participants to share common barriers they have faced in terms of financing green infrastructure.
“When we spoke with 17 Mexican capital cities about strengthening financial capabilities, we identified many local barriers, such as the dependence of municipal revenues on state and federal resources, bad guarantee schemes for private initiatives, the difficulty of accessing federal funds, and the lack of technical and operational capacity to structure projects,” explained Lobo.
In a similar vein, Alan Gómez, Sustainability Leader at Citibanamex, presented the Sustainable Cities Index, developed in conjunction with Mario Molina Center.
“In this index we incorporated the objectives of sustainable development, measured at the municipal and metropolitan level, and incorporated social aspects. This is an instrument that allows us to visualize how we can contribute to sustainable development in cities from the financial sector, and share the information with the government, citizens, companies, academic sector and civil society,” said Gómez.
Sandra Guzmán, General Director of Policies for Climate Change at Mexico’s Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, spoke about the perspectives of international climate finance and the path of low-carbon transitions.
“We must close the gap between supply and demand, between developers and the banking sector, and we must find a way to make big ideas turn into projects that can be financed and really transform cities,” she explained.
Finally, Ernesto Hanhausen, WRI México Board Member, shared his point of view on financing through impact investment and overcoming barriers to boost private investment in sustainable solutions.
“There are investments that have a negative and positive impact,” Hanhausen said. “The banks are showing interest in investing in sustainable projects because everything has to be sustainable nowadays, so talking about green projects is talking about serious things.”
Ultimately, participants concluded that Mexico has the technical, managerial and financial potential to develop green infrastructure, but it is necessary to coordinate efforts among different actors.
TheCityFix Labs Mexico calls on cities, public and private entities, and NGOs to register their sustainable projects by February 15 for the chance to be selected. For more information, please visit www.thecityfixlabsmexico.org.
About WRI México Ross Center
WRI México Ross Center is part of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, which helps create accessible, equitable, healthy and resilient urban areas for people, businesses and the environment to thrive. Together with partners, it enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with 15 years of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 250 experts working from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico and Turkey to make cities around the world better places to live.
About the Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. More information at www.citifoundation.com.