Sustainable urban freight surges forward in India, Colombia and Argentina

31 October and 9 November marked the official commencement of EcoLogistics, a project backed by the International Climate Initiative of the Germany Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The project is designed to reduce the emissions impact of urban freight in nine cities across India, Colombia and Argentina. Urban freight is an often-overlooked aspect of urban planning, and can be a serious driver of congestion, local emissions and declining air quality.

In cities like London, for instance, freight vehicles can contribute up to 30 percent of local nitrogen oxide pollution even while occupying only 16 percent of road space. Similarly, a 2010 publication from GIZ shows that urban freight vehicles, throughout the world, create a disproportionate amount of pollution compared to passenger vehicles.

The EcoLogistics project will reduce this outsized impact, and is now entering a pilot phase where different solutions will be tested before scaling up. The project will use multilevel inputs that combine local and national expertise and generate sound urban freight policies.

Highlights from the launch in New Delhi, India

  • Action on urban freight is a key part of India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC): J. R. Bhatt, Advisor to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, noted that India has set a target to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. He indicated that India considers urban freight to be an important mechanism for achieving its NDC.

  • The national government aims to integrate EcoLogistics outcomes into their planning: Aman Sharma, Director of the Logistics Division of the national Department of Commerce highlighted the timeliness of EcoLogistics, and its relevance to the entire freight and logistics sector in India. He encouraged the project team to share the findings and outcomes of  project activities as well as any policy recommendations with the Logistics Division.

  • E-commerce is rapidly growing and highly relevant: Anand Iyer, Chief of Program for the National Institute of Urban Affairs, suggested the project team investigate the e-commerce sector specifically due to its rapid growth and impact on overall deliveries. He further said that the existing 20-year master plan which regulates urban land use needs to be updated to keep up with the rapid development of Indian cities and their new transportation needs.

Highlights from Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, Argentina 

  • ICLEI launches key office to support climate and energy action in Argentina: The City of Santa Fe highlighted the arrival of ICLEI’s new national coordination office, which will direct projects throughout Argentina. The office will focus primarily on global projects covering EcoLogistics and renewable energy initiatives, as part of efforts to help the country achieve its national climate and energy targets.

  • Local, national leaders call for innovation in urban freight: Local and national representatives took part in the inauguration, including Mayor Jose Corral from Santa Fe and the Director of the Agency for Cooperation, Investments and Foreign Trade, Pablo Tabares. They were also joined by the Executive Secretary of ICLEI South America, Rodrigo Perpétuo. 

  • Argentina is looking to scale up urban freight policy solutions country-wide: While signing the project cooperation agreement, Pablo Tabare noted: "Implementation of this initiative will allow us to achieve improvements in the efficiency of freight transport in the city and above all to encourage the nation to adopt a policy that can be replicated throughout the country." 

The importance of urban freight was recently highlighted in a interview with Program Manager Tsu-Jui Cheng and Project Officer Himanshu Raj of ICLEI. Read it here. You can reach them at
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