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Friday, May 19, 2006 

Inter-American Development Bank
Sustainable Development Department

Environmental Management of Small and Medium Sized Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean
By Jaap de Vries, Paul Procee, Harry Mengers (01/01, En)

This working paper is being published with the sole objective of contributing to the debate on a topic of importance to the region, and to elicit comments and suggestions from interested parties. This paper has not gone through the Department's peer review process or undergone consideration by the SDS Management Team. As such, it does not reflect the official position of the Inter-American Development Bank.

With still growing numbers in urban population, the poor quality of the urban environment is a major concern to Latin America and the Caribbean. Problems with air pollution are becoming worse. The region faces degraded water quality, poor facilities for sewage treatment and solid waste disposal. Urban problems are made worse by inadequate housing and inefficient transportation systems.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is increasingly recognized that, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, environmental issues with local externalities (in areas such as spatial planning, natural resource use, air and water pollution, solid waste management, sanitation and sewerage) are more effectively dealt with at the local level than at the national or provincial level. The subsidiarity principle states that the lowest level of government that can fully capture the costs and benefits should also provide the corresponding public goods and services.

While much attention has been devoted to these problems in large cities, much less is known about the large number of small and medium sized cities. Most of the 13,000 local governments in Latin America and the Caribbean are small and medium sized cities, although varying widely in size, geographical location and setting. In general, these cities are increasingly experiencing a whole set of environmental problems, be it due to urbanization, industrial development, land use change or other issues.

The Bank recognizes the importance of improving urban environmental conditions, including through urban land-use management policies. Better sanitation services are needed, also to bring serviced city dwellings within the reach of the poor. Also, more efficient and less polluting urban transit policies need to be developed with continued support for low-income housing improvement and land tenure programs.

This report has been commissioned by the Bank to provide a better understanding of the main issues, challenges and opportunities for improving environmental management in small and medium sized cities. The study has been carried out by the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with funding from the Netherlands Environment Technical Cooperation Trust Fund administered by the Bank. The study was carried out from November 1999 to July 2000.

Management of Small and Medium Sized Cities in Latin America and the
(PDF, 292 Kb, En)

Management of Small and Medium Sized Cities in Latin America and the
(RTF, 1753 Kb, En)

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