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CTI Workshop Side-Event on Urban NAMAs in Latin America Bogotá, Colombia: September 4, 2014

Discussion_PictureUrban areas significantly contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity for buildings, fuel for transport, and municipal waste are major emission sources. Ever-increasing urbanisation rates still increase the burden of cities on the global climate.

To combat rising emissions from cities many developing countries and emerging economies are in the process of developing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). With this instrument, emissions in a particular sector shall be brought below a certain baseline. The relatively new concept of Urban NAMAs goes a step further. Urban NAMAs combine emission reductions in several sectors, e.g. the building, transport or waste sector, to an integrated action at the urban level. Several countries in Latin America, among them Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica, have developed or are developing such Urban NAMAs.

Side-Event during Latin American Carbon Forum

The status and potential of Urban NAMAs have been the topic of an event organised by the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) Workshop Platform. The session took place as a side-event at the Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) in Bogotá, Colombia on 4 September 2014. The side-event was implemented by adelphi on behalf of the Federal German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It is part of Germany’s commitment to CTI.

During the side-event representatives from Costa Rica, Colombia and Uruguay presented their NAMA approaches which have an urban component. The presentations were followed by an informal networking lunch where participants and speakers engaged in a discussion on the potential of Urban NAMAs in Latin America and challenges in their development and implementation process.

The side-event in Bogotá was already the second CTI Workshop side-event on this topic. During the Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany in April 2014, BMUB also hosted a session on the Urban NAMA perspectives in Latin America. The great interest experts and policymakers showed in the subject led to the decision to host a further event in the region to advance the discussion around Urban NAMAs.

CTI Workshop SE LACCF – Concept Note and Agenda

Country Cases from Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay

Presentation_Picture1The three countries presented their unique approach to the challenge of reducing GHG emissions in an urban area. The Colombian Transit-Oriented (TOD) NAMA works towards shifting the urban development process to a low-carbon model. This model shall more strongly integrate public transit, social housing and market rate projects. The core of the approach is the creation of transit-oriented neighborhoods that allow reducing the need for and cost of transportation as working and living spaces move closer together.

Costa Rica’s Urban NAMA for the Metropolitan Area of San José moves into a similar direction. By creating compact and integrated neighbourhoods, commerce, living, cycling, walking and public transport are possible in the same geographical area. This reduces the need for transportation with vehicles. Additionally, existing public transportation lines are integrated to make their functioning more efficient. This will reduce the number of buses required to enter the city and will lead to a reduction in the number of vehicles in the city centre.

The Solar Thermal NAMA of Uruguay aims at the installation of solar water heaters in new public housing as well as houses built with a public contribution. This will significantly reduce the amount of electricity required in urban agglomerations where these houses are built.

Co-Benefits as Central Element of Urban NAMAs

Presentation_Picture2In their presentation all speakers highlighted that co-benefits are of enormous importance for NAMAs in general and specifically Urban NAMA approaches. Cities, especially those having to cope with high growth rates, face manifold challenges besides large GHG emissions. If NAMAs are able to alleviate the burdens resulting from an increasing population, in addition to reducing GHG emissions, they will be able to secure support from stakeholder groups. More transport, for example, does not only generate GHG emissions, but costs people time when they are stuck in traffic. This ultimately deteriorates the quality of life and harms the economy as productive time is lost. Additionally, exhaust fumes pollute the air and lead to health risks for cities’ inhabitants resulting in higher costs for the health system. For NAMAs to gain wider acceptance as a policy instrument and show what they are able to achieve besides only reducing GHG, it is important to make these co-benefits tangible. New Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) methods are required that allow for making such co-benefits visible.

Presentation_Picture3The issue of MRV is also relevant for emission reductions. From the definition of a baseline, which in most cases does not exist for an urban area, to detecting the actual success of NAMA activities, there are many challenges around the establishment of an MRV system. Regarding the latter problem, the suggestion was made that the impact of a NAMA in a particular neighbourhood could be identified by comparing the neighbourhood with NAMA interventions to a “control” neighbourhood without NAMA interventions.


Private Sector Engagement and Local Participation

Another issue that speakers and participants stressed was that the involvement of the private sector in NAMAs is essential. Measures implemented under a NAMA should be realizable under market conditions and attract private funding besides national or international public funds. Private sector engagement can be secured if it can be demonstrated that, for example, a better transport system increases real estate values in areas where a NAMA measure has been implemented.

Besides the engagement of the private sector also the participation and project ownership of local authorities is crucial. Many times NAMA approaches are coordinated on a national level by ministries responsible for the environment or urban planning. The actual measures, however, are implemented on the local level. For securing the support of municipalities and other relevant local actors it is important to clearly demonstrate the (co-)benefits accruing to this level and keep additional administrative work to a minimum.

Generally, the involvement of a broad range of actors is necessary. This is demonstrated by the large number of stakeholders involved in the NAMAs which the speakers presented during the event. As many aspects of city-life are affected by an Urban NAMA approach, all relevant actors should be included in the institutional setup. This ranges from national level actors such as ministries of environment, housing or energy to financial institutions and technical partners to local stakeholders such as municipalities. This, of course, requires a good communication and planning process that ensures that all interests and capacities of the respective actors are considered and channelized in a single Urban NAMA approach.

Integration of Approaches Pre-Requisite for Further Development of NAMA Approach

As a conclusion it was stated that for NAMAs to be further developed as viable instruments of climate policy and emission reductions, the different international approaches for mitigation actions need to be integrated. Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) methodologies could be made applicable for NAMA development and further approaches such as sectoral crediting, sectoral trading or New Market Mechanisms should converge towards a unified approach.

At the same time, national policies as well as local initiatives should be integrated in NAMA approaches. Such integration is especially relevant for Urban NAMAs that face the particular challenge of stretching over various sectoral boundaries. Yet, at the same time they have the potential of creating synergies in their actions and actually achieving better results in terms of GHG emission reductions and co-benefits than single-sector approaches. The presentations and discussions during this event made evident that many Latin American countries clearly see that these advantages outweigh the hurdles related to Urban NAMAs.

The presentations can be accessed here.

Related article:  CTI Workshop Newsletter 3/2014