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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Jenny María Chaverri Jiménez, Building Engineering

Planning Transport Systems with Sustainable Development and the SDGs

Date & time
Thursday, May 11, 2023
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Sustainable development is about raising human well-being and protecting the environment. In the context of urban sustainability, cities have prioritized cars leading to negative impacts on society and the environment. Some scholars are concerned that planners do not incorporate equity in academia and the state of the practice. Individuals facing social exclusion are more vulnerable to low air quality, traffic collisions, and noise. Social inequalities are also correlated with the spread of communicable diseases. Moreover, stronger mitigation measures are needed since the transport sector is the second largest contributor to emissions.

A conceptual investment framework was designed to interconnect the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for planning and designing sustainable urban mobility under five strategic areas: social justice, health, climate change, economic development, and governance. Policies, modeling tools, and methodologies were reviewed to construct this framework under a systemic approach.

To analyze the 2050 net-zero policy of changing the vehicle fleet from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to Electric Vehicles (EVs), a bottom-up regional average speed emission model relying on a four-step travel demand was developed. Four scenarios were explored: business as usual (BAU), low, moderate, and aggressive to evaluate the potential reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and Particulate Matter PM2.5. The emission model included vehicle speed and weight, fuel type, and vehicle emission standards. In the case study of Costa Rica, it was found that attaining zero CO2 emissions by 2050 requires shifting to EVs at least 25% and 50% by 2030 and 2040, respectively. For ICE vehicles, changing the minimum vehicle emission standards from EURO 1 to EURO IV and EURO VI positively impacted the reduction of NOx and PM2.5 despite the growth of traffic volumes.

This research explored the barriers women face to having equal opportunities and differentiating urban mobility needs and patterns. A vertical equity transport planning approach that is pro-poor, gender-sensitive, and considers intermediary social health determinants is developed. This research is the first approach to incorporate the most at-risk demographics (material deprivation, disabilities, and single mothers' car ownership) and their exposure to NOx and PM2.5 in identifying high-priority areas.

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