Nature and Biodiversity

How a new digital tool could help cities meet key sustainability and mobility goals

The Urban Mobility Scorecard tool can boost sustainable travel in cities.

The Urban Mobility Scorecard tool can boost sustainable travel in cities. Image: ZACHARY STAINES on Unsplash

Jeff Merritt
Head of Centre for Urban Transformation; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
Jamie Wylie
Lead, Urban Mobility, World Economic Forum
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  • The Urban Mobility Scorecard tool seeks to bridge the gap between real-world challenges facing private-sector mobility players and the policy agenda set out by cities.
  • Three cities that helped to trial and test the mobility tool - Buenos Aires, Curridabat and Singapore – showcase innovative solutions to advance action on urban mobility.
  • The Global New Mobility Coalition, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, is now pursuing new cities to use the mobility tool.
  • Learn more about the mobility tool.

Road travel accounts for three-quarters of transport emissions. Most of this comes from passenger vehicles – cars and buses – which contribute 45.1%. With the world's population increasingly concentrated in cities, metropolitan regions urgently need to develop multi-modal transit systems that reduce emissions and improve air quality.

While electric vehicles (EVs) are a vital part of the solution, cities also need to see a re-balancing of transport away from private car use. Car-driven sprawl undermines public transit and makes journeys on foot or by bike challenging, exacerbating inequalities and increasing infrastructure costs. The downstream effects include increased congestion, traffic fatalities, rising land costs and more, as urban spaces are given over to roads and parking – crowding out housing, green space and other necessities.


How is the World Economic Forum helping to scale vehicle electrification?

What's more, there is no question that successful low-carbon transit improvements can significantly impact the quality of life beyond the immediate benefits of improved mobility. Just one of many examples of this is Medellin, Colombia, where a cable-car system enabled isolated communities to access jobs in the urban core. This "powered Medellín's economic and social transformation from the most dangerous city on the globe in the 1990s, to the world's 'most innovative city' in 2013," according to Axios.

But as cities change, so must their transport systems. New challenges - from reducing emissions to enhancing public and shared transport, to tackling inequalities - require new solutions and new actions. So, how can cities understand their progress towards more sustainable, inclusive mobility?

Have you read?

A new resource for cities: The Urban Mobility Scorecard tool

To help cities in their journey to sustainable mobility, the Global New Mobility Coalition (GNMC) – an initiative from the World Economic Forum – has developed the Urban Mobility Scorecard tool in collaboration with three test cities. Produced in deep collaboration with the public and private sectors, the mobility tool aims to help cities benchmark progress towards sustainable mobility. Through assessments covering key issues in urban mobility, the mobility tool allows cities to understand their strengths and weaknesses, recognize good practices and identify areas for action. Accompanied by a suite of case studies and resources and an option to set actions on new policies and regulations, the mobility tool aims to raise the bar and inspire action in cities to advance the transition to sustainable, inclusive mobility.

This project united stakeholders from across sectors – including shared mobility, electrification, active mobility and payments providers – as well as several mobility NGOs. Through a series of dialogues, these diverse expert stakeholders shared lived experiences and challenges in implementing sustainable mobility in cities, as well as sharing perspectives on the solutions needed to advance action on sustainable mobility. Through a dedicated working group, in-person events and interviews, these dialogues contributed to developing the content of the assessments behind the Scorecard Tool, seeking to bridge the gap between real-world challenges facing private sector mobility players and the policy agenda set out by cities.

The Urban Mobility Scorecard tool investigates urban mobility through three pillars:

1. Governance

Within the Governance pillar, the mobility tool explores how to create more nimble, adaptable and future-ready urban mobility ecosystems through institutional coordination (planning, financing and resource allocation), regulation (environmental, urban vehicle access and data management) and innovation (shared mobility, pilot projects and processes, and electrification).

2. Resilience

The Resilience Pillar investigates how cities allocate space for different uses (such as on-street parking) and how mobility fits into those planning efforts. This pillar comprises issues of space allocation (for cycling, micro-mobility, walking and public/shared transport modes), as well as curbside management issues (parking and delivery logistics management).

3. Connectivity

The Connectivity Pillar assesses how convenient and accessible a city’s mobility system is. This pillar investigates issues including the integration of mobility (multimodal integration, mobility payments and ticketing and informal transport), as well as looking at safe and equitable access (accessibility, access to mobility services and road user safety).

Putting the Urban Mobility Scorecard tool to the test

Three cities - Buenos Aires in Argentina; Curridabat in Costa Rica; and Singapore - helped to refine and test the mobility tool and take part in close engagement with private sector stakeholders. The cities shared perspectives and challenges in delivering sustainable mobility, provided detailed feedback on the assessments used in the Scorecard Tool, took part in public-private dialogues and assessed their sustainable mobility ecosystems using the mobility tool.

In testing the Scorecard Tool, the cities provided answers to a range of questions on mobility. In doing so, these cities revealed ways in which they are leading the way to deliver more sustainable, inclusive mobility and highlighted areas where the cities are raising ambition to tackle key issues in sustainable mobility head-on.

For example, Singapore – which has a robust public transit system – aims to advance its electrification goals, with over 60,000 EV charging points installed by 2030 and 50% of the public bus fleet to be electric by 2030.

Buenos Aires, meanwhile, already leading on issues such as gender in transport, is seeking to contain the growth of private car use by boosting public transport and cycling and prioritising pedestrianisation and low-speed zones in key areas of the city.

Results from the Urban Mobility Scorecard Tool for Buenos Aires.
Results from the Urban Mobility Scorecard Tool for Buenos Aires. Image: World Economic Forum

Curridabat, in San José, Costa Rica, has ambitions to take its leadership on nature-based solutions even further by embedding biodiversity in the city’s plans for walking and cycling schemes, while doubling pedestrian paths in the next four years.

Results from the Urban Mobility Scorecard Tool for Curidabat.
Results from the Urban Mobility Scorecard Tool for Curidabat. Image: World Economic Forum

Learnings from developing the mobility tool

Dialogues held with the private sector, the public sector and NGOs were crucial in developing the Scorecard Tool. However, from these dialogues, it was clear that a number of wider structural challenges need to be addressed by cities and companies alike to achieve a rapid transition to more sustainable mobility. To see a transition to cities where mobility is sustainable, equitable and innovative, action is needed on several fronts. Fundamental issues remain to be addressed to see a step-change in action in urban mobility, including:

Overcoming gaps in investment and financing

Achieving a transition to sustainable mobility requires a greater focus on addressing gaps in investment. Significant funding is required for new infrastructure, for example, for vehicle charging, upgrading vehicle fleets and more. New investment opportunities and models need to be explored to encourage private sector buy-in, as well as simultaneous public and private investment. At present, there is often uncertainty in cities around the financing and investment pathways, with many cities being limited in their financial decision-making capabilities. Other issues include uncertainties over where responsibility lies – for example, who should invest in new mobility infrastructure or new services (e.g. public, private, local government, national government).

Enhancing collaboration and action in delivering electrification

Electrifying transport is a goal shared by public and private stakeholders alike, but action must be scaled up to achieve progress within a short timeframe. Electrification of transport is no small task, with city administrations, private operators, charging providers, utility companies and more needing to take action. Greater coordination and collaboration are needed both within city government (for example, in government departments or agencies), between levels of government (for example, city government and national government), as well as between the public and private sectors (for example, involving fleet operators and charging providers).

Putting inclusivity at the heart of mobility

To create a transport system for all, accessibility and equity must be at the heart of mobility planning. Too often, issues of accessibility are an afterthought in the planning system, leaving many people behind in the transition to sustainable mobility, Considering the needs of a wider range of people (such as those on low incomes, women, older people, parents with young children, people with additional access needs) through universal design of the urban environment and creating convenient and accessible public transport systems can deliver more efficient and considerate mobility, allowing everyone to make sustainable mobility choices.

Key pathways to sustainable urban mobility.
Key pathways to sustainable urban mobility. Image: World Economic Forum

A call to action

Going forward, there is a clear need for cross-sector, cross-industry collaboration and alignment to advance action on all aspects of sustainable urban mobility. The Global New Mobility Coalition (GNMC) will continue collaborating with cities, companies and civil society as a community of mobility stakeholders from the private, public and non-profit sectors. The GNMC will continue to develop the mobility tool by connecting cities and companies to advance action on urban mobility.

The GNMC’s collaboration with new cities will focus on emerging economies, helping them to use the mobility tool to benchmark their transition to sustainable mobility and encourage action. Collaborating cities will have access to the digitised version of the mobility tool and will be able to self-assess performance on seven areas of urban mobility, benchmark progress and set actions for achieving their goals.

Cities will also be able to connect with key private sector stakeholders (e.g. mobility operators, infrastructure providers and service providers) and civil society groups through curated dialogues that will explore solutions to their sustainable mobility challenges.

Learning from working group sessions, dialogues and events during the development of the mobility tool, the GNMC is undertaking a new workstream on financing the urban mobility transition. Mobility operators, financial institutions, city administrations and NGOs are invited to join this work focusing on overcoming the investment gap for sustainable mobility in cities, with a particular focus on electrification and boosting shared mobility (public transport, micro-mobility and shared vehicles), working to build common understandings on the steps necessary to channel public-private investment to advance sustainable urban mobility.

The GNMC’s mobility tool is part of the World Economic Forum’s work to advance net-zero cities and foster nature-positive urban environments. Cities and organizations interested in taking part in the GNMC or using the Urban Mobility Scorecard tool are encouraged to get in touch to find out more.

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