Catalyzing Investment in Urban Sustainability
U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on
Urban Sustainability


During President Rousseffs April 2012 visit to the United States, she and President Obama, along with leading US and Brazilian CEOs, underscored the importance of investment in infrastructure especially in view of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympics Games. They also stressed the importance of partnerships between state and local governments in promoting trade and investment, technology and innovation, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

There are a variety of policies at the federal, state, and local levels that mandate or incentivize sustainable infrastructure. This section captures key examples of policy instruments, plans, standards, incentives, and voluntary programs from the US and Brazil that focus specifically on creating opportunities for deploying cleaner infrastructure, technologies, products, or services, especially for underserved communities. The collection represents the variety of tools available to national, state, and local decision makers to catalyze action and generate measurable economic, environmental and health benefits.

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Each example includes cross-references to related policies, financial mechanisms and projects to highlight what specific investments can flow from a particular program. For example, Stormwater Utility Rate Structuring is a policy approach that can transform a traditional urban pollutant (stormwater runoff) into a marketable commodity. The Philadelphia Stormwater Credit Program is a specific finance mechanism designed to drive the market through laws requiring property owners to reduce their stormwater runoff or purchase offset "credits." Finally, the Big Green Block project is an example of an investment that generates stormwater "credits" in Philadelphia that could be available for purchase on the market.

Similarly, Special Districts and Areas of Interest are policy instruments that can create targeted services for specific, legally-defined geographic areas, often through zoning changes. In Brazil, these changes have enabled the development of finance mechanisms, such as CEPACs (Certificates of Potential Additional Construction), where public authorities auction off tradable certificates that expand developers' building rights. For the Porto Maravilha: Urban Waterfront Revitalization project, the sale of CEPACs has generated upfront financing for the municipal corporation managing the Area of Special Interest, allowing it to invest in the types of infrastructure and services that provide the backbone of any successful neighborhood.

Featured Policy Cards

Public Participation Tools for Community Engagement

Local and national authorities in Brazil, the United States, and other countries increasingly recognize that successful projects require meaningful involvement of all affected people, which includes reaching out specifically to minority, low-income, and indigenous populations.

"Green City, Clean Waters"

"Green City, Clean Waters" is Philadelphia's 25-year plan to protect and enhance the City's watersheds by managing stormwater primarily with innovative green infrastructure.

Brazilian National Solid Waste Policy

In 2010, Brazil finalized its National Solid Waste Policy, a cross-cutting law that aims to decrease the total volume of waste produced nationally and increase the sustainability of solid waste management from the local level to the national level.