With WRI’s help, people in African, Asian and Latin American cities can get around more safely and sustainably because walking, biking and public transport are now easier and more accessible. Together, these changes contribute to progress on Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to improve access to public space and sustainable transport, reduce road deaths and promote active living.
Many cities across the world are built for cars instead of pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users, reducing access to schools, jobs and physical activity. The lack of sound urban infrastructure can be deadly: 1.25 million people die in traffic crashes each year. One key to improving road safety is to support coordination, communication and exchange of perspectives among stakeholders and decision-makers in such areas as transport, planning, education, health and traffic enforcement.
WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities helps cities in low- and middle-income countries improve planning, policy and design to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Our support includes reports and guidance documents, as well workshops and training to improve capacity and coordination. For example, WRI and partners have advised Indian cities on India’s first fully-automated public bike-sharing system. WRI also helped expand car-free Raahgiri Days to neighborhoods in 40 cities across India.
With support from WRI, over 10 cities changed street design to enhance walking and cycling and improve access to public transport. For example, there are new bicycle lanes in Fortaleza, Brazil and Bogotá, Colombia; new pedestrian infrastructure in Mumbai, India, and Accra, Ghana, new measures to reduce traffic speeds in Bogotá and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and expanded public spaces in Bandung, Indonesia. Bogotá has adopted a Vision Zero Road Safety Strategy, while in India, WRI supported the expansion of public bike-sharing from one city in 2017 to more than 15 cities in 2018. In Fortaleza, traffic deaths dropped by 40% from 2014 to 2018. In India, the state of Haryana directed all districts to initiate Raahgiri Days in their district capitals, helping to create demand for safer walking and cycling infrastructure. By the end of 2018, 800,000 people in Haryana had taken part in a WRI India-supported Raahgiri Day.
Global Forest Watch, a powerful WRI tool to track and reduce tree cover loss, is now available in the field through a new mobile app called Forest Watcher, helping park rangers, villagers, and civil society groups find and halt illegal deforestation in tropical forest countries like Indonesia, Brazil, Peru, Cameroon and Uganda.
Tropical tree cover loss has risen steadily over the past two decades as the demand for agricultural and pasture land increases. It is hard to prevent because it often happens in remote areas where officials and other forest protectors can’t see it. Often people working to stop forest clearing lack the internet connection they need to access satellite forest data. Forest managers may need days, weeks or even months to discover where illegal deforestation is occurring—too late to catch the perpetrators and hold them accountable.
Created in 2016 as the pilot of WRI, the Jane Goodall Institute, Google and the National Forestry Authority in Uganda, Forest Watcher is a mobile application that allows easy, offline access to information about forest change based on annual tree cover loss data from Global Forest Watch. Now, with the incorporation of WRI’s GLAD (Global Land Analysis & Discovery) alerts developed with the University of Maryland, forest managers in the field have access to high-resolution, quickly available data to pinpoint where deforestation is happening. WRI and local partner organizations trained forest managers, including law enforcement officers and members of indigenous communities, to use these powerful tools. This latest version of Forest Watcher has been downloaded over 6,000 times as of 2018. Many users are in important tropical forest countries including Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Paraguay, Peru and Uganda.
In 2018, Forest Watcher and GLAD alerts resulted in interdictions and arrests for illegal deforestation. In Indonesia, more than 2,400 instances of illegal logging were documented, and government authorities successfully prosecuted 50 cases of illegal logging. In the Brazilian Amazon, where just a dozen police patrol a forest the size of Nepal, officers used WRI tools and worked with local communities to identify priority areas and arrest people illegally clearing forests. In Peru, a Quechua community used Forest Watcher and GLAD alerts to discover a clandestine coca plantation on their land. They used WRI tools featuring satellite evidence of the deforestation to confront the perpetrators, who ultimately ceased their activity.
WRI and partners developed tools to implement and monitor community-based natural resource management programs in Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These initiatives support sustainable forestry, agriculture and ecological land management in vulnerable areas, improving livelihoods.
Research from WRI and others has highlighted the importance of community and social forestry. In 2015, Indonesia launched an ambitious program to allocate 12.7 million hectares (31 million acres) of land to be managed by families and communities through social forestry schemes. In 2016, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) completed the legal framework allowing forest-dependent communities to obtain land rights. These initiatives have the potential to conserve and restore forests while improving livelihoods and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, implementing and monitoring such programs across vast, diverse countries is complex and challenging.
Preliminary results from WRI Indonesia's research demonstrated positive impacts of the social forestry program, such as decreased tree cover loss, higher income among farmers and fewer conflicts over land tenure. Building on these findings, WRI and partners supported the Indonesian government’s web-based social forestry monitoring tool and helped build capacity for working groups in 10 provinces, including South Sumatra.
In DRC, WRI helped draft the national community forestry strategy, finalized in 2018, which set up a five-year pilot phase for community forests. The Institute worked with the Ministry of Environment to establish a monitoring committee with representation from government, civil society, indigenous peoples’ groups and technical partners to assess progress against the national strategy. Because many DRC groups seeking community forest status have limited resources, WRI worked with local partner CODELT and the forest administration to develop templates, tools, and training to help with the application process.
In 2018, 9,710 households in South Sumatra received social forestry licenses covering more than 56,000 hectares (138,000 acres), bringing the total amount of land covered by these licenses to nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres). This included the first forest to be managed under customary land rights in South Sumatra, for the indigenous community of Tebat Benawa.
In DRC, more than 40 community forests have been allocated and at least 250,000 hectares (617,000 acres) are now under legally-recognized community management for the first time due to the legislation passed in 2016. The work of WRI and partners on standardized templates and a national strategy helped drive the implementation of the legislation.
With WRI Brasil help, city officials and civic groups in Fortaleza, Brazil, turned a parking and traffic lanes into a pedestrian plaza. Strongly positive public feedback has led to similar projects in other areas. Photo by Rodrigo Capote/WRI Brasil
A man in Ilanga Village, DRC, holds a map showing commercial concessions on community lands. The community hopes that official recognition of the community’s traditional rights will help prevent outsiders from exploiting their forests. Photo by Molly Bergen/WCS, WWF, WRI
A new report from the Indonesian government finds that the country can slash emissions almost 43 percent by 2030 while growing GDP 6 percent per year until 2045. The findings will feed directly into the government's next five-year development plan.
Indonesia is one of few tropical nations actually decreasing deforestation. As a result, the country will earn its first payment as part of the UN's REDD+, a program where developed nations pay developing ones to reduce emissions by protecting forests.