The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and NewCities signed a Memorandum of Understanding exploring informal systems in the world’s cities with a special focus on informal transportation.
NewCities and UNDP will work together to learn how indigenous innovation can be harnessed to empower communities to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Through the MOU, UNDP Accelerator Labs becomes a strategic partner of the NewCities’ Global Partnership for Informal Transportation.
Informal transportation—ojeks, tuktuks, jeepneys, matatus, marshrutkas, colectivos, bodabodas etc.—dominate the mobility systems of the rapidly growing cities of the Global South. These regionwide, privately provided transport modes emerge to meet the demand for cheap, flexible mobility.
Despite this ubiquity, informal transportation is often seen as a local problem. The sector suffers from haphazard, discriminatory policies and regulations and little government investment. At best, informal transportation is ignored in urban transport policy and planning. More often, it is actively discriminated against and yet the services continue to be resilient, serving billions of people and employing millions more.
The Global Partnership for Informal Transportation wants to change the narrative around informal transportation and believes informal urban transportation systems can be powerful engines for economic mobility and for creating more sustainable and inclusive cities.
Accelerator Labs and the Global Partnership will collaborate to accelerate testing and generate actionable data on informal transportation systems and the local culture, and effective and innovative policy approaches to transform the sector. Gina Lucarelli, Team Leader of the Accelerator Labs, said: “We’re excited to see how the Partnership can help leverage the ingenuity and innovation of the people who build and operate these services. It is critical that organizations join forces to connect local innovators to a wider innovation ecosystem and help grow their bottom-up solutions on the global stage.” Gina added, “It’s not just about helping them find the right technology, it’s about building on their experiences to shape the policies of tomorrow. I see informal transportation systems as an important research agenda that gives us insight into informal innovation.”
NewCities Chairman & CoMotion CEO John Rossant says, “The promises of the mobility revolution — connected, efficient and decarbonized transportation — must now be extended to the cities of the Global South, where informal transportation networks are the primary way billions of people move around. The Global Partnership is bringing long overdue visibility to the important role these indigenous mobility systems play in cities and economies. The partnership with UNDP will help us put informal transportation on the global agenda for sustainable and equitable development,” he continued.
Benjamin de la Peña, chair of the Global Partnership and CEO of the Shared-Use Mobility Center added that:
“Many of the most vulnerable groups in society depend on informal transportation for their mobility, for their businesses, and for their jobs. The right investments and policies could rapidly decarbonize informal transportation, improve livelihoods, and provide better services.”
Active in 114 countries, the UNDP Accelerator Labs is the largest network of development labs in the world. The Labs were set up to explore emergent issues, such as informal systems, and experiment with solutions that require real-time data, agility, and grassroots innovation.
UNDP serves in many respects as the operational arm of the United Nations at the country level and works with partners in numerous countries to promote among other things sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law;
NewCities is a global non-profit committed to shaping a better urban future. The organization has a decade’s experience curating and producing innovative content about the most important emerging urban trends through tailored events, editorial features, and actionable research. NewCities brings a ‘whole-city’ approach by convening and connecting key stakeholders of the urban ecosystem: residents, governments, academic institutions, civil society organizations, and business communities. Its activities are inspired and supported by its global network of members, whose insights help determine the most pressing challenges faced by cities.
Agile City Partners is a boutique global urban consulting company. ACP’s singular goal is to bring the agile mindset to the cities it serves. We face planetary challenges and global disruptions, so our cities need to learn quickly, to respond, to move fast. ACP believes agility helps cities to be truly inclusive, to fight climate change, and to be resilient.
CoMotion is a global platform where leaders of the most innovative transportation and technology companies around the world meet with urban policymakers to share ideas, do business and plan the new mobility future. CoMotion organizes exclusive world-class events such as CoMotion LIVE, CoMotion LA and CoMotion MIAMI, and is the new mobility industry’s premiere source for news, insights, and analysis.
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