Urban Development with Co-benefits Approach

The Co-benefits Approach is emerging in sustainable development as a means to achieving more than one outcome with a single policy. While benefits may be characterized in many areas, for the purpose of this project  we refer to the development and implementation of policies, which simultaneously pursue incorporation of both global climate (greenhouse gas emissions) and local environmental (e.g. air pollution) concerns into the development process. This is especially pertinent for developing countries that often pay little regard to their carbon emissions during the development process arguing that the need for development outweighs the concern to address climate change. In doing so, a classic development trajectory is embarked upon where countries set out to develop at the expense of local conditions such as air pollution.

At some point in the development process, local conditions are addressed through investment and technological improvement. This is often referred to as the environmental Kuznets curve but crucially does not apply to carbon emissions which rise ever higher. The co-benefits approach attempts to tunnel through both curves (Figure 1), mitigating the local effects earlier and a lower level (blue line) while also constraining global greenhouse gas emissions (red line).

Figure 1:

The end result is that the settlements have smaller environmental footprints than would have otherwise been the case. While the transfer of clean technology can address some of this, there are many multipliers that can be applied through the process which can enhance this effect.

The Urban Development with Co-benefits Approach is sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan (MOEJ) and involves the cooperation with research partners in 5 countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Japan. The final goal of the four year Co-benefits Project is to develop evaluation tools to understand the potential to produce co-benefits in 5 sectors (transport, waste, energy, buildings and land use) based on empirical research on co-benefits. The research is also conceptually grounded in the following 4 governance themes: Law and Legal Institutions, Governance, Projects and Policies, and International Cooperation.

Country Partners

We are working with the following partners in 5 countries:

– University of the State of Sao Paulo
– Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE/UFRJ)

– Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang
– Fudan University, Shanghai
– City University of Hong Kong

Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
– School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal

– Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS), Surabaya
– Center of Studies in Regional Development Planning, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta

National Institute of Environmental Studies (NIES)
National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS)

Global Carbon Project (GCP)

Institute of Global Environmental Studies (IGES)


Each sector is being examined through the following cases: 

– Delhi Metro in India
– Trans-Jogya BRT in Indonesia
– Bio-ethanol Penetration in Sao Paulo State in Brazil

– Eco-model projects developed in Japan
– GHG emissions from Municipal Solid Waste for Bhopal, India
– Open dumping and improper landfills of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), Indonesia
– Community-Based Waste Management (CBSWM) in the area of the city of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

– GHG emissions inventory and energy consumption for the old industry area in Shenyang city, China
– Energy consumption and air pollution in Baoshan District in Shanghai, China
– Environmental management in small sized enterprises and initiatives from the Public Sector to promote energy efficiency in the City of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo State, Brazil

– Green Building Coding System and renewable energy in buildings in Shenyang, China
– Commercial buildings in Hongkou District in Shanghai, China
– Energy efficiency in the business center in Greater Tokyo

Land Use
– Land use transport integration in the case of the Delhi Metro project

Governance Theme

Co-benefits policies come from a series of drivers at the local, national and international levels. The following aspects of environmental policy and implementation will be studied:

Law and Legal Institutions
– Analyze the role of certain laws and institutions (e.g., informal rules or norms) to promote co-benefits

– Governments in developing countries are under pressure to promote economic development in order to generate income and jobs
– Initiatives that have an important economic development component may be attractive to get policy support

Projects and Policies
– Investigate the main factors related to project design or management (e.g., finance, training) that explain the effectiveness of co-benefits at the project level
– Analyze under what conditions co-benefits policies can be effective to achieve significant results

International Cooperation
– Some global mechanisms have been important to spur some of the co-benefits initiatives
– Many of the projects listed benefited from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol