C40 Voices: Clare Healy, Network Manager, Transit Oriented Development – on why compact, connected cities are critical to tackling climate change

Compact and connected development is the preferred form of urban growth. This is a key finding of a major new report released by a commission of global leaders. The New Climate Economy (NCE) report, titled ‘Better Growth, Better Climate’, by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, argues that lasting economic growth is possible alongside fighting climate change, but only if urban growth is better managed and investments in mass transit systems are prioritised.

The NCE report, published in September 2014, comes at a particularly exciting time for C40, corresponding with the launch of our new Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Network. Supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation, the TOD Network aims to help C40 cities transition away from an ‘urban sprawl’ model of development, something that the NCE report calls “one of the world’s most significant – and least well documented – market failures”. Instead, the TOD Network will bring cities together to share best practices to plan and deliver compact, connected and mixed-use communities centered on robust public transport infrastructure.

As the Network Manager for the TOD Network, I have been talking with cities across the globe about their priorities for advancing transit-oriented development, and the challenges they face. Their commitment to shift away from sprawling development and reliance on private vehicles is clear. Doing so will help them to reach carbon emission reduction goals, as well as achieve a range of other benefits intrinsic to sustainable and liveable cities, such as decreased traffic congestion and local air pollution. By promoting development around transit nodes, cities are also increasing economic prosperity and social equity by connecting housing to economic and employment opportunities. Given current and forecasted global urbanisation rates, the potential for the TOD Network to spur lasting sustainable growth in C40 cities is huge.

Whilst the TOD Network is still in its infancy, momentum is growing through peer learning opportunities that drive concrete action in cities, such as the introduction of new policies for transit-oriented development or improvements to existing plans and projects.  Looking ahead, the TOD Network will be holding its first workshop in February 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, bringing C40 cities closer to achieving compact and connected urban development.

To read more about the C40 Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Network, click here.