This blog was written by Laura López, Sustainable Mobility Junior Officer, ICLEI World Secretariat.
Urban freight is under intense demand across the world. Population growth, higher per capita income, and digitalization trends drive delivery vehicle usage (up 36% in the top 100 cities by 2030), GHG emissions (32% increase) and congestion levels (21% increase) (WEF, 2020). Despite this glaring need, the transportation of goods has been largely overlooked in sustainable mobility planning. Cities remain primarily focused on passenger transport while limiting freight-related measures to the imposition of circulation and parking restrictions.
The Low Carbon Action Plan Guidebook (LCAP-UF) aims to fulfill this planning gap by providing cities with a roadmap to decarbonize urban logistics while enhancing operational efficiency, social inclusion, road safety, and air quality. Since 2018, ICLEI’s EcoLogisitics initiative has supported cities in Latin American and Asia on LCAP development. The Webinar “Moving goods: Low carbon action plan for urban freight” brought together city representatives from Panaji, Taoyuan, Bogotá, and Santa Fe to share insights on how LCAP has been conceptualized, planned, and implemented. This includes goal setting, a rigorous stakeholder engagement process, adapting strategies and performance review.
The 8-step LCAP-UF has provided cities with a practical framework to decarbonize urban freight, leaving room for adapting plans to each city’s context. In general, all cities advocated for implementing low carbon fleets, low emissions zones, and micro-consolidation hubs in their plans. However, planning approaches vary across cities. For instance, the City of Panaji defined short, medium, and long-term strategies ranked by the level of feasibility. Taoyuan anticipates achieving a zero-emission freight sector by 2050. In addition to promoting more sustainable deliveries, the city also plans to leverage renewable energy sources and technological advancements to streamline processes along the entire supply chain.
It became evident that stakeholder engagement is essential to moving forward through the entire process. City representatives hosted consultation and outreach activities where these efforts eventually led to permanent working groups that included representatives from different government institutions, civil society, academia, and the private sector.
From concept to reality: challenges and opportunities developing LCAP-UF
Fragmentation within the urban freight sector was highlighted as one of the most significant challenges to developing and implementing LCAPs. The wide range of stakeholders involved in urban freight ‒ namely wholesalers, transporters, retailers, and final users ‒ makes it extraordinarily difficult to map and identify specific roles within the supply chain. The multiplicity of actors also meant different levels of involvement and conflicting interests, which entailed arduous and time-consuming consultation, deliberation and decision-making processes.
Data availability was also a limitation to understanding operation performance and developing the baseline scenario. Most of the last-mile actors featured small companies and individuals carrying out deliveries inefficiently due to a lack of resources in collecting and managing data. On the other hand, big and medium-sized companies are adamant about sharing data due to a lack of incentives and fear of putting competitiveness at risk. Finally, even when data is available, it is difficult to cross-reference.
There is plenty of room for optimism. City representatives noted sustainable urban freight is gaining momentum in local governments’ political agendas, eventually leading to more integrated policies and resource allocations. These engagements have piqued private sector interest for a deeper understanding of and involvement in initiatives to enhance operational efficiency while reducing adverse environmental outcomes from freight movement.
Learn more about the webinar session and download the LCAP-UF guidebook here
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