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Development Finance Forum 2018

The Development Finance Forum is KfW Development Bank's most important annual event that each time focuses on a current topic related to development cooperation. This year it was about sustainable mobility. The meeting was entitled "Getting on the Right Track – The Future of Urban Mobility" and took place on 18 and 19 December at KfW in Frankfurt. Around 200 experts from all over the world attended the congress. In the industrialised countries, the discussion is already in full swing, while in the developing countries it is only just beginning. With the Development Finance Forum, KfW sought to give this debate additional impetus.

The key concepts included expansion of public transport, electromobility, car sharing, mobility apps, expansion of non-motorised transport and integrated urban planning. Only by shifting to sustainable mobility options can we respond adequately to urban growth – accompanied by increasing traffic – without further burdening the climate. It would be the wrong signal to continue to have cities dominated by cars and mopeds. Many urban centres around the globe are already suffocating in traffic jams, suffering from noise and particulate matter and intensifying global warming. In addition, motorized individual traffic also fails to serve the mass of city dwellers who lack the money for their own vehicle.

Satisfying the mobility needs of poorer people in particular is an important prerequisite for economic growth. Only those who are mobile can participate in social and economic life. But at the moment individual transport is still far too much a priority for the wealthier: more than a billion cars are already driving on the roads of the world, and the number continues to rise. This trend must be stopped. Urbanisation offers a good opportunity to do so. Because when cities grow and new districts emerge, this is an excellent time to also look at bus, tram and underground lines, along with cycle paths and walkways and see if they are sufficient.

For this very reason, experts from politics, business, science, non-governmental organisations and development institutions discussed in detail what options developing countries have to keep their growing cities mobile while being environmentally friendly. Only this will allow them to become or remain truly creative, innovative, economically strong and livable centres.

Development Finance Forum 2018 Agenda

Film about the Development Finance Forum

A short summary of the international conference on sustainable mobility.

Play video (3:58 min.)

“The real shift in mobility is sharing”

Ani Dasgupta from WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities explains why electro-mobility is actually a minor change – the real disruption is sharing.

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In depth

  • Picture Michaella Rugwizangoga


    “Africa´s future is electric”

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  • Portrait Holger Dalkmann


    "Technology is attractive"

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  • Commuters leaving the train


    Women from Tunis talk about everyday mobility in their city.

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  • Getting on the Right Track


    Find out more about the results of the Development Finance Forum 2018.

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Marcela Guerrero Casas

"One of the biggest challenges of sustainable urban mobility is connecting high-level theory with real people in the street. An enabling environment can scale up public participation and buy-in. We need to provide residents of cities across the world with platforms, support and tools to become part of the conversation and to take part in co-designing solutions that work for them. Forums such as the DFF can contribute to tackle that challenge by sharing experiences and giving visibility to the topic."

Marcella Guerrero Casas is Managing Director and Co-Founder of Open Streets Cape Town.

Barbara Schnell

"In times of rapid urbanisation worldwide, we urgently need viable concepts to meet people’s mobility needs in the future. Therefore, we have to completely rethink our approaches, abandon the existing combustion engine whilst not forgetting the poorer countries. The future belongs to new technology and shared mobility, made possible by digital solutions. That is why we should work in this direction."

Barbara Schnell is Director for Sector Policy at KfW Development Bank.

Anie Amicci

"Especially in developing countries where there is not enough urban mobility infrastructure, little has been done concerning sustainability. The current efforts to promote the shift from individual motorized transport to public mass transport will certainly bring some environmental gain. Developing countries should take advantage of the willingness of bilateral development banks to support clean urban mobility projects that could set new benchmarks."

Anie Amicci is Manager of the Urban Mobility Department at BNDES.

Joel Fischer

"Something has to change if our planet is not to be destroyed. There is no shortage of ideas for new forms of energy and transport. What is frequently lacking, however, is the backing of government and industry. Sustainability has to be our top priority! Both on national level and in the global context. Therefore, implementing agencies such as the KfW have a key role to play – as initiators, mediators and engines of a sustainable future."

Joel Fischer is curating an exhibition on e-mobility at the Frankfurt Museum for Communication.

Kalpana Viswanath

"There are many facets of making mobility more sustainable in cities. We know that sustainable mobility impacts and is impacted by factors such as gender, age, safety, accessibility and inclusion. In planning for sustainable mobility, we need to hear the diversity of voices in the city so that it is a bottom up and inclusive framework. It is only when cities are designed for a wide range of their residents that they can be more sustainable."

Kalpana Viswanath is Co-Founder and CEO of SafetiPin.

Roger Behrens

"In the Global South, city transport infrastructure will come under pressure from forecast urbanisation rates. It is unlikely that sufficient formal mass transit systems will be provided to cater for the new demand. Cities will therefore continue to rely on unscheduled services, operated by multiple entrepreneurs. Much of the future prosperity of these cities will depend on how effectively these unscheduled services are regulated, and integrated with mass transit services."

Roger Behrens is Associate Professor at University of Cape Town.

Read more about the Development Finance Forum 2017 on the topic of Oceans.