The urban population in Asia and the Pacific currently represents 40% of the total population, but this number is expected to reach 50% by 2025. This trend, coupled with population growth, represents a considerable challenge in delivering cost-effective and affordable services to the population.
Traffic congestion costs and poor quality infrastructure have been found to be the main factors negatively influencing competitiveness of urban areas. Lack of attention to environmental and social aspects in infrastructure development reduces the profitability of investments in infrastructure as well as opportunities for contributing to economic growth and improving quality of life. In turn, environmental quality and a more sustainable spatial approach enhance the livability of cities, and thus its attractiveness for foreign direct investment.
Infrastructure development in urban areas deserves special attention, as it can contribute up to 75% of all energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, according to certain estimates. The challenges are not limited to environmental considerations alone: slum dwellers represent in fact 40% of the urban population in the region (540 million in total).
ESCAP is assisting cities in the region in responding to these challenges through the project “Eco-efficient and Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Development in Asia and Latin America”, jointly implemented with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
The project contributes to this goal by equipping policy-makers and planners with a methodology to assess the eco-efficiency and social inclusiveness of urban infrastructure in an integrated manner and develop strategies and policies to improve this.
Activities include city and sector level assessments, case studies, identification of good practices and policy options, and capacity building workshops (at national, regional and inter-regional levels).
International training course eco-efficient and socially inclusive infrastructure development, 19-25 November 2011