Cities cannot survive without an effective urban freight system, as their economies depend on efficient goods distribution. Moving goods within cities is a complex task with high externalities. The fragmented governance structure of urban freight adds to the complexity: there is no single institution or department responsible for the efficient management of intra-city freight movement. Moreover, there is a significant disconnect observed between industry and the government bodies that handle the city transport network. The entire urban freight is predominantly dominated by informal private operations.
Therefore, to promote coordinated urban freight movement, the EcoLogistics initiative assisted the local governments in Kochi, Panaji, and Shimla to constitute a multi-stakeholder committee each for sustainable urban freight management. The committee, anchored by the local government, will address the issue of stakeholder fragmentation in urban freight, assist the city to achieve economic growth, support goals such as environmental sustainability, promote coordinated action to tackle these issues, and close the gaps in urban freight movement. The committee includes representatives from government agencies such as Traffic Police, Road Transport Office, and the Departments of Town Planning and Transport, along with private organisations such as trade and transporters’ associations, chambers of commerce, and local market representatives.
The coordinated and integrated efforts of the multistakeholder committees have already led to the validation and finalising of the urban freight baseline for Kochi, Panaji, and Shimla, followed by their approval by the respective city governments. Further, based on the baseline developed, the multistakeholder committees are proactively discussing Low Carbon Action Plans for Urban Freight in all three cities to streamline urban freight movement and reduce externalities.
In Kochi, Mayor M. Anilkumar chaired the multi-stakeholder committee discussions on the 24th of March 2021. Similarly, the municipal commissioners in Panaji and Shimla chaired discussions on the 18th of February 2021 and the 9th of March 2021, respectively. The meetings were attended by various government and non-government stakeholders such as the Traffic Police, Regional Transport Authority, Department of Transport, Smart City SPV, non–profit organisations, and the private sector. Various short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategies for developing sustainable urban freight solutions and reducing urban freight externalities were identified. Kochi, Panaji, and Shimla also identified the priority intervention areas under LCAP-UF, as listed below.
The EcoLogistics project is supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, through its International Climate Initiative programme. The project promotes the transportation of goods by giving priority to health, safety, people-centered urban development, and low emissions, and encourages circular and regional economies. It follows the strategy to ‘avoid’ (and reduce) freight volume and haul distance; ‘shift’ to (and maintain) more sustainable modes of freight transportation; and improve the logistics operations by using better technologies and operations. A first-of-its-kind global initiative, the project is being implemented in Argentina, Colombia, and India.