Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.
United Nations Development AccountUnited Nations Headquarters New York Desa Home

Development Account Projects

Eco-efficient and sustainable urban infrastructure development in Asia and Latin America


Infrastructure development is critical for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1 to 7. The unmet demand for infrastructure to support the delivery of housing, transportation, energy and water services limits economic opportunity and is therefore a major barrier to the achievement of MDG 1 (poverty and hunger reduction). Patterns of infrastructure development determine the environmental sustainability of economic growth (MDG7 - ensure environmental sustainability). In turn, eco-efficiency is a key criterion for the development of sustainable infrastructure, and therefore a key objective in developing, planning and building more sustainable cities. More eco-efficient infrastructure delivers higher-quality services with less use of resources and low negative environmental impact, as well as lower vulnerability to natural disasters. Eco-efficiency can be measured using indicators that relate environmental impact (such as emissions of pollutants) or resource use (such as water or energy), to the service or economic benefit provided (such as passenger kilometers, in the case of transportation infrastructure).

Enhancing awareness and the promotion of eco-efficiency concepts among policymakers, planners and decision makers are urgently needed. This project seeks to promote the application of eco-efficiency as a key factor for sustainable infrastructure development and as a basis for expanding infrastructure financing opportunities though the development of the capacity of decision-makers, policymakers and planners to assess the eco-efficiency of their infrastructure in an integrated manner. The participation of established networks is expected to sustain and multiply project impacts and to ensure sharing of good practices at the regional and interregional levels. The project will benefit from work already done by project partners and upon completion of the project, it is expected that e-learning training modules will sustain project impacts and that relevant training institutions, networks and universities will continue to provide training.


To improve the capacity of policymakers, planners and decision makers to increase the environmental sustainability of infrastructure development, with emphasis on urban planning, eco-efficiency, disaster prevention, social inclusiveness and financing opportunities through participation in global carbon markets.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced regional knowledge management, analytical capacity, awareness and understanding in respect of eco-efficiency concepts, their contribution to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 1 and & 7 and their application to infrastructure development
  • Enhanced capacity to adopt eco-efficiency concepts, measures, and criteria in policies, plans and decision-making relating to infrastructure development
  • Enhanced capacity to participate in clean energy and energy efficiency investment opportunities, increased participation in carbon markets with programmatic and bundled Clean Development Mechanism projects related to transport, power and energy-intensive industrial infrastructure

Implementation status:

Through a number of studies the project has reviewed current practices and identified barriers and opportunities for integrating eco-efficiency criteria into urban infrastructure development patterns in Asia and in Latin America. The findings of the studies were presented and discussed at regional and inter-regional workshops, which adopted a framework and methodology to integrate eco-efficiency criteria into urban infrastructure development.

Participants of the training course in Asia demonstrated their improved knowledge and capacities by developing an action plan to improve the eco-efficiency of the infrastructure in their cities. Moreover, out of their own initiative, they have formed an “eco-efficiency” mailing list, through which they actively share ideas, experiences and knowledge.

Regional Planning Directors of the Ministry of Public Works (Ministerio de Obras Públicas – MOP, Chile) are committed to incorporate eco-efficiency and sustainability criteria in the long-term planning of infrastructure in Chile’s 15 regions.

In Asia, 23 government officials, both from local and central government from 12 countries were trained and have developed action plans to improve the eco-efficiency of urban infrastructure in their cities.

In Latin America a process has started as a consequence of the project activities on the design and implementation of Programmatic Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects at the local and regional level focusing on public transport, energy, water and sanitation. New public institutional arrangements are being discussed in terms of developing CDM projects