The air pollution we breathe -not always visible- has damaging effects on living things and the environment. Air pollution challenges and solutions are primarily urban; that’s why, to achieve the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement and SDG agenda, we better look at cities.
Local and global urban pollutions are better addressed at the metropolitan level than at the municipal level. This is a key message from the last year Habitat III summit in Quito. Metropolitan authorities also constitute the right interlocutor for the local implementation of NDC.
Therefore, fighting climate change and achieving the sustainability ambition of the SDG is not uniquely a question of financing. Setting up efficient metropolitan governance structure, transferring required competencies, building technical capacity are also key elements for the success of spending better to achieve more and unlocking investment in sustainable infrastructure.
Let’s take an example of the transport sector. In the metropolitan area of Mexico, 40% of the inhabitants cross at least one municipal boundary to get to work, the Mexico-Puebla corridor registers about 760,000 people who travel daily. Obviously, the challenges and the alternative solutions are not at the municipal scale.
With continued urbanization, cities become more functionally interdependent with their surrounding settlements and hinterlands, creating metropolitan regions with a single economy and labor market, with functional relationships of resource cycles, a community with common interests and benefits of joint actions in various sectors. At the request of Chilean Ministry of Interior, the IDB is supporting the Chilean decentralization reform to:
- build the technical capacity of the future Metropolitan Area Departments;
- provide recommendations on the alternative governance structures and competencies.
Establishing a metropolitan governance is a complex process. Here are some key principles based on international experiences:
- “No silver bullet”: There are many alternative models of governance, there is no model that stands above the rest;
- “Focus on the process”: The process of implementing a metropolitan structure is crucial to success of the outcome;
- “Adapt to the circumstances”: The most appropriate metropolitan governance depends on the circumstances, both nationally and locally;
- “Flexibility”: Not only do different governance models work in different cities, models can evolve over time in any city; “Sources of resources”: fiscal resources must be adequate to the responsibilities.
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