Jan 2015 – Jun 2019

Curbing Brazil’s transport emissions trajectory by transforming city mobility



Brazil – Latin America

To avoid the projected growth in Brazil's urban transport emissions by helping cities in Brazil reduce car-dependency and promote a transit-oriented model of development.

$8,696,282 Grant Value

$332,349 evaluation budget


Brazil is at a tipping point in that its energy use and emissions, in large part due to increasing car use in cities, is forecast to overtake land use as Brazil's main source of emissions from 2020. 

This investment aims to change that trajectory. It aims to build capacity to implement climate-smart urban principles in Brazil, to identify champions for these new norms who can implement iconic demonstration projects (city mayors), and to encourage and enable the replication of successful examples. This should lead to the institutionalisation of climate-smart urban transportation and planning principles in city mobility plans and regulations and codes. 

In parallel, by supporting and encouraging the Ministry of Cities, Caixa Econômica Federal (CAIXA) and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) to make funding conditional on consistency with these principles, a pipeline of low carbon infrastructure will be developed. In turn, this will contribute to the emergence of a new pattern of urban development and a decisive curbing of the growth in Brazil’s urban transport emissions. The investment also aims to encourage replication of the model within Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America.

To accomplish these objectives, CIFF provided a grant to two organisations operating in Brazil — World Resources Institute (WRI) Brasil Cidades Sustentáveis (Sustainable Cities) and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) Brasil.  

Together, they work in a number of key Brazilian cities (including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo) by providing technical assistance to local and federal stakeholders and building their climate-smart urbanisation capacity, by generating research and gathering international best practice examples to inform mobility plans and investment decision and by engaging key constituencies to increase the support to more sustainable transport policies. 


The investment aims to contribute to realising an abatement potential of 164 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent cumulatively by 2030. This will be accomplished through a modal shift from private cars to public or non-motorised transport, increased access to Bus Rapid Transit, and reduced travel times for passengers. This will directly impact over 40 million lives in Brazil’s iconic cities, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte, by delivering world-class demonstration projects which will in turn influence actions, policies and financing in other cities, and on national and international levels.

This programme has faced a challenging context during its first two years, with a serious economic crisis and a changing political environment. However, WRI and ITDP, widely praised for their work, have been successful in navigating these difficulties, adjusting their work programme and securing progress towards the overall objectives of this programme. There are many examples of this programme making a difference: ITDP and WRI, for example, have been critical on the successful implementation of key BRT projects and on pushing for the development of non-motorised transportation (cycling and walking). WRI’s Seven Steps – How to Build an Urban Mobility Plan has been endorsed by the Ministry of Cities and downloaded more than 10,000 times. ITDP has developed urban mobility indicators that are being officially tested in a pilot phase. Although the transformational changes sought by this programme are likely to take longer, there are signs that climate-smart urbanisation principles start to be institutionalised in Brazil.

CIFF has commissioned Ross Strategic to do an evaluation of this programme. A first mid-line report has been produced that confirms the progress and achievements secured by the grantees. It also highlights a few gaps in the theory of change that need to be tackled to maximise the impact of this programme and identifies key lessons. These will be taken on board by the programme going forward.

Find out more about the impact of this investment through the report here