Catalyzing Investment in Urban Sustainability
U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on
Urban Sustainability
  • Philadelphia
  • Rio De Janeiro


In March 2011 President Obama and President Rousseff announced the creation of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS), an innovative public-private partnership for catalyzing investment in sustainable urban infrastructure and expanding markets for clean technology, products and services.

Since its launch, the JIUS has served as a platform for identifying and overcoming barriers to investment and deployment of sustainable infrastructure. These projects, unlike traditional construction projects, are typically small and diffuse, making it difficult for investors to find projects at large enough scales; to assess their costs, benefits, and social impacts; and to ensure viable returns on investment.

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For example, green stormwater infrastructure systems typically consist of hundreds of small projects, including street trees, green roofs, and repaved roads, among other investments. Even though these systems are often cheaper to build than standard pipes and treatment systems, they are also more difficult for cities to finance with traditional mechanisms.

By bringing together federal, state, and local government officials with corporate, financial, academic, and community leaders from Rio de Janeiro and Philadelphia—two cities leading the transition to sustainable infrastructure—JIUS participants identified multiple opportunities for scaling-up investment in urban sustainability.

This collection highlights examples of policy instruments, financial mechanisms, and projects from Rio de Janeiro and Philadelphia that can serve as building blocks for other communities seeking new sustainable development strategies. The three main sections describe and cross-reference (1) enabling policies that can drive markets and investment opportunities, (2) financial mechanisms that communities and developers can use to attract private capital and leverage resources to implement local projects and policies, and (3) examples of the types of sustainable projects that investors can incorporate into their portfolios to help achieve broader policy goals.

The work of the JIUS represents a foundation, not a comprehensive or one-size-fits-all blueprint. We recognize that cities have different needs and priorities. This platform is an entry point for communities, local officials, developers, and investors, and the concurrently launched JIUS website will serve as the focal point for ongoing updates to align efforts to catalyze investment in urban sustainability in cities around the world.


Each of the icons below represents an important element of urban sustainability. Use these icons to help navigate through and between sections to see how policies are connected to finance mechanisms and on-the-ground projects in order to achieve economic, environmental, and social benefits across sectors and in diverse communities.