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3 Argentine cities join global effort to update urban freight through EcoLogistics

On December 5, 2018, implementers of ICLEI’s global EcoLogistics project convened in Buenos Aires to organize their efforts in the country ahead of the start of the four-year project period. Their ultimate goal? To reduce the substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that come from freight transit in Argentina’s major cities and from long-distance hauls through the country’s mountainous landscape. According to 2010 figures published by GIZ, up to 40% of all transport-driven emissions in Argentina come from freight.

The meeting was convened with the support of the National Ministry of Transportation in Argentina, which underlines the role multilevel collaboration will play in this project. Lucila Capelli, advisor to the coordination team in the Argentinian government, expects the project to benefit national policy. “Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world, but has low population density in several places. We have cities like Buenos Aires, which is a megalopolis and which has massive challenges, while other Argentine cities such as Rosário and Santa Fé, with less than 500,000 inhabitants, have different challenges. They have different traffic problems, totally different distribution issues, and require different types of solutions, so it is good to work on different levels to understand what the tools are for each type of city.”

“This is not a usual exercise,” says Pablo Tabares, ICLEI’s national coordinator in Argentina, referring to how the national government typically works with provincial governments instead of directly with cities. “The national kick-off meeting reinforced the idea that the national government will work with cities directly. The national government has also informed us of their Intelligent Transportation project, and will share the detailed information and diagnoses they have collected in the transport sector. This is information that the cities did not have before”.

The meeting included stakeholders from the Argentinian government, the project cities and ICLEI.Together, these participants identified a mix of key goals, potential obstacles, and “quick wins” for improving the freight situation in Argentina. Pablo Tabares outlines three potential work packages for the project as follows:

  • Responsible driving: Promoting behavioural change to incorporate good practices aimed at reducing emissions and pollution.
  • Energy efficiency: Improving the quality of fuel used for freight, and introducing biofuel in the fleet.
  • Economic stimulation: Stronger local economies require fewer long-distance deliveries, and shorter deliveries overall

In addition to these focus areas, Lucila Capelli expressed the importance of finding financial mechanisms that can scale up freight interventions.

Once specific project interventions are agreed upon, pilot projects will launch in the three participating Argentinian cities. In total, nine different cities between Colombia, Argentina, and India will participate over the next four years. 

Despite their common focus on freight, the interventions are expected to be very different between countries.Tsu-Jui Cheng, the global manager of EcoMobility at ICLEI World Secretariat, explains:


“In India, the focus leans more towards infrastructure, especially now that they have a nationwide movement supporting smart cities. While they are quite keen on doing the overarching policy and framework, they want to have some physical infrastructure to bring about solutions. Colombia has been quite advanced in some aspects, and I think probably that's not too far from the situation of the cities in Argentina.They already have some existing knowledge about the logistics and probably, in Colombia, the multilevel governance is comparatively more aligned already.”

Regardless of the final implementations selected, each of the project cities represents a huge opportunity for GHG emissions reductions.

More on EcoLogistics

The EcoLogistics project will deliver capacity to governmental and non-governmental actors to build strategies and policies to promote low carbon and more sustainable urban freight in 9 local governments in Argentina, Colombia and India. The project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) through their International Climate Initiative (IKI)

More on the importance of addressing urban freight from ICLEI’s Tsu-Jui Cheng.

More on the project kick-off in India. 

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