Eco-Cities India has focused its efforts on four key urban sectors that, taken together, are significant contributors to emissions and the resultant effects on the environment. These are Urban Transport, Green Buildings, Water & Solid Waste Management, and Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Interventions take many forms, including the development of policy incentives and business initiatives designed to help businesses transition to carbon neutral sources of power, certification standards for eco-friendly construction, as well as city-wide energy mapping and greenhouse gas inventories.
Specifically, Urban Transport looks to develop future technologies and practices for the decarbonisation of cities—for instance, by the use of electric vehicles, or by the promotion of mass transit systems. This also includes interventions for policy incentives, the development of business models keyed to such technologies and the establishment of ecosystems for such technologies to develop within (for instance, infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicle batteries in the same manner as petrol pumps currently serve motor vehicles). Infrastructure that supports such systems is also developed within this category—for instance, the development of a feeder network of two- and three-wheelers to establish last mile connectivity at metro stations.
Green Buildings relates to the development of resource efficiency in construction (as well as in building maintenance). Currently, this sector is responsible for more than a third of global resource consumption annually, including 12 percent of all fresh water. Greenhouse gas emissions from construction activities account for 25 percent of pollutants in the air. In addition, an increase in the number of dwellings inevitably leads to increased energy and water consumption, as well as waste disposal issues. Via systems such as EDGE, the IFC’s interventions in this field are aimed at establishing systemic changes in how buildings are constructed and maintained. In this regard, the IFC recently convened a first-of-its-kind, voluntary, private-sector consortium led by the CEOs of leading housing developers and financial institutions, known as the Sustainable Housing Leadership Consortium.
When it comes to a sector like Water & Solid Waste Management, a quick statistic put the problem into clear focus: India alone generates in the region of 100,000 metric tons of solid waste every day. This includes e-waste—the remains of electronics like computers, fridges, ovens, and many other such devices. In this regard, the IFC has provided a great deal of technical input for Bhubaneswar’s Smart Cities proposal to the Government of India (which went on to rank first among 98 applicants). One specific goal is to incubate an effective e-waste management system that might be replicated in other Indian cities. In this regards, the IFC has secured the support of producer responsibility organizations representing large IT firms, which channel e-waste from business and industry responsible recyclers. Lastly, IFC’s Eco-Cities India program also puts significant resources into developing appropriate systems for efficient energy use, as well as in developing and employing renewable energy systems. This is especially crucial given that industries, buildings and municipalities are responsible for nearly 50 per cent of India’s electricity consumption. IFC interventions under this banner include a public streetlighting project in Bengaluru, involving the replacement of 465,000 fluorescent and metal vapor fixtures with energy efficient LED versions. This project is expected to raise about $70 million of private sector investment to that end.