Developing cities sustainably
Towns and cities are hubs of economic growth and innovation, with huge potential for reducing poverty. They should be well planned, integrating all districts and ensuring all inhabitants have access to jobs, education and public services such as clean water and electricity. Well planned cities also generate fewer greenhouse gases because they are more compact and rely more on public transport.
The rapid growth in urban populations brings huge challenges for towns and cities, especially when providing households and businesses with water, power and other services. SECO offers a wide variety of support for urban development in partner countries. This ranges from consulting, financing of expert assessments and capacity building within the authorities to investing in specific projects.
City planning and management
SECO helps local authorities to devise urban development strategies. This entails selecting appropriate projects, professional planning and securing sources of funding. Experts work with the city authorities to create a decision-making framework. This may include, for example, recording and analysing traffic information of social, economic and environmental relevance. The city authorities can then take informed decisions on traffic routing and capacities required for public transport. SECO also assists partner countries in setting up a land register to record the size, location and use of all plots of land. This establishes the ownership structure and thus forms a basis for economic development. At all times, SECO promotes innovation and information exchange between different interest groups.
Minimising serious damage caused by catastrophes
SECO is committed to minimising the damage from catastrophes, particularly natural disasters, which are occurring with increasing frequency as a result of climate change. It finances projects designed to protect towns and their infrastructure. Experts meet with the local authorities to work out appropriate measures. They also build systems to track natural disasters and analyse the risk of catastrophes occurring. This enables cities to identify their districts at risk and involve local inhabitants in preparing protective measures and alarm systems. In areas of particular risk, projects include special building measures to protect and monitor the infrastructure against any natural disasters and safeguard the water and power supply.
Given the steady rise in car and motorcycle ownership, many cities in SECO’s partner countries face the threat of total gridlock. Traffic jams, exhaust fumes and accidents all undermine a city’s economic development. They create divisions between districts and segments of the population. They increase greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and endanger public health. SECO commissions experts to help local authorities take measures to improve urban mobility, e.g. adding structural features and services to bus stops and stations so they are more attractive for passengers as well as local residents and businesses. Or new bus and rail lines may be incorporated into the existing transportation network, making it easier to change lines. Also, passengers should be able to access public transportation on foot and/or bicycle. Transport operators receive training and advice on how to deliver services that match passengers’ needs. This gives local communities easier access to employment, education and healthcare.