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Achieving sustainability in urban transport in developing and transitioning countries

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Deployment planning/Financing/Market roll-out
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Numerous questions arise with regard to global sustainable transport. Transport accounted for 23% of global CO2 emissions in 2007. It is expected that the overall emissions will continue to rise in the next decades unless action is taken. But transport is not all about CO2 emissions and its climatic effects. Mobility is one of the basic needs of people today and there is a connection between economic development on the one hand and mobility and transport on the other. There is also more to sustainability in transport, as it causes air pollution, noise, accidents and other negative side-effects harming people and the environment. These effects are especially relevant in urban areas. Today about 50% of the world’s population of 6.9 billion people lives in cities. This share will rise to nearly 70% in 2050, when more than 9 billion people are expected to live on this planet. Cities nowadays account for nearly two thirds of global energy consumption and more than 70% of CO2 emissions (from buildings, industry and transport). Sustainability is therefore a major issue and its importance is only going to grow. This study concentrates specifically on sustainability in urban transport.


This report first provides a short overview of the most important data behind the sustainability problems in urban transport. Then the question, what is sustainable mobility and where are the main obstacles on the path to more sustainability, is addressed. The central part of the study deals with the most important policies and instruments enhancing sustainable (urban) mobility.


The study is structured as follows:

Chapter 2 highlights the most important data justifying the project’s research focus.

In chapter 3 the characteristics of sustainable mobility are identified and defined, in order to set the scene for the policy measures described in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 4 constitutes the central part of this study as it compiles policies to promote sustainable urban mobility and discusses their economic and other advantages and disadvantages. After some basic thoughts on policy for sustainable transport, four major topics are considered in more detail, namely the financing of infrastructure, the role of settlement structures, technological, and finally non-technological measures. The theoretical and political backgrounds are presented, followed by best-practice examples almost exclusively from cities in developing and transitioning countries. Each case study explains the regional background, provides an overview of the implemented strategy, assesses transferability and makes some recommendations on implementation elsewhere.

Chapter 5 summarises the findings and offers some conclusions.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety; BMUB
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)
Funding Source
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)


Despite the abundance of policy instruments, there is no single silver bullet to fit all national and regional circumstances. The complicated matter of urban transport policies calls for integrated and comprehensive programmes for the medium- to long-term, taking into account the local and regional context. It has been shown in this report that many instruments have been deployed successfully in developing and emerging countries. These case studies can serve as examples for poor and indeed wealthy countries on how to make their urban transport systems more sustainable.

Findings of the study are published in detail in a final report which is available online via the German Environment Agency (UBA) at:


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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