Trade Corridor Development and 
Transportation Sector Vulnerability Reduction

The Office for Sustainable Development and Environment (OSDE) supports the member states of the OAS in promoting trade corridor development --an emerging regional planning unit-- by contributing to an understanding of environmental concerns related to road corridors, identifying existing knowledge and expertise in the region, and promoting corridor development which is resilient to natural hazards. Transportation corridors are important in light of the increasing number and complexity of trade agreements being signed in the Americas and the resulting increase in transported goods.



Trade Corridor Technical Information Resource Site


PROCORREDOR - Program for Research and Training on Environmental Management of Trade Corridors


The Importance of Road Corridor Natural Hazard
Vulnerability Reduction



Hemispheric Plan for Environmental Management Guidance of Road Transportation Corridors


Regional Workshops on Sustainable Cities and Trade Corridors




OAS - MERCOSUR Transportation Corridor Vulnerability
Reduction Project



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The Importance of Road Corridor Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction

The expansion of commerce is a priority for the countries of the OAS in the context of democracy building, free markets, and sustainable economic development in order to facilitate the creation of new products, jobs, investments and exports. Commercial corridors are a concrete manifestation of this priority and the transportation sector is essential for the trade of goods and services.

In many cases, the optimal location of a commercial corridor depends on technical information on the vulnerability of the infrastructure to certain natural hazards. This factor should be considered in road infrastructure planning decisions and thus, in support of its member states, the OAS is developing tools for environmental management to help achieve the sustainable development of commercial corridors. NHP projects in the transportation sector support the inclusion of natural hazard vulnerability reduction and environmental impact considerations in the planning of road corridors investment projects.

More than 80% of national budgets for the road transportation sector are spent on the repair and maintenance of roads damaged by flooding, earthquakes, mudslides and volcanic eruptions. The annual impact of these natural hazards amounts to tens of millions of dollars in direct losses, as well as indirect losses including increased transportation costs. The poor populations of rural and urban areas are most greatly affected by these increased transportation costs. Delays caused by such damages are exacerbated by certain national policies and the complexity of the procedures to obtain transit permits in border areas. To assure secure and efficient transportation services, it is necessary to confront these problems so that the countries that participate in commercial corridors do not run the risk of offering products and services that are not competitive given the additional costs associated with delays and interruptions.

Another theme of vital importance in the development of commercial corridors is the environmental management of road infrastructure construction and maintenance. Important projects for integration, such as the Hidro-via Paraguay–Paraná and the Panamerican Highway System, depend on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for external financing. Environmental management is an intrinsic focus of sustainable development which has been a prevailing focus since the Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It seeks to identify and mitigate negative environmental impacts from road corridors. EIAs, which also consider the consequences of transportation flows generated by transportation infrastructure, are necessary for studies of technical feasibility and for the execution of construction itself. International financing institutions as well as new national environmental laws require projects to comply with these studies. Analysis of vulnerability to natural hazards should be considered within environmental impact assessments.

Hemispheric Plan for Environmental Management Guidance of Road Transportation Corridors

The Hemispheric Plan for Environmental Management Guidance of Road Transportation Corridors (available only in Spanish and Portuguese) is being developed by the OSDE with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the Pan American Institute of Highways (PIH), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The Plan is a guide to establishing policy, procedures and standards based on experiences to date of the OAS member states. The Plan is divided into four areas: 1) a guide containing policies, planning processes or procedures, projects (case studies), and preparedness for emergencies; 2) an annotated bibliography; 3) a matrix classifying the documents in the bibliography; and 4) a section on the implementation and development of the Plan. The Plan is being developed through a participatory process. If you are interested in reviewing or contributing to the document, please contact the Natural Hazards Project for more information.

Regional Workshops on Sustainable Cities and Trade Corridors

As follow-up to the Summit Conference on Sustainable Development in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in 1996, OAS member states are implementing initiatives adopted in the Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Americas in the area of sustainable cities and communities. One of the main themes being considered is integration of disaster reduction into national development planning as manifest in trade corridors and environmental management. With the co-sponsorship of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) Secretariat, and United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD), workshops on sustainable cities and trade corridors took place in the Andean Region, Central America, and the Southern Cone during the autumn of 1998. The objective of these regional workshops was to prepare an agenda for actions to be undertaken by international and regional organizations in support of the implementation of the Summit initiatives by the OAS member states.


The computer program PerfilMap was developed under the OAS-ECHO-PIH project Reduction of the Vulnerability of the Road Transportation System to Natural Hazards in Central America and the Andean Region. The project was realized in 1996-97 in cooperation between the Office for Sustainable Development and Environment of the OAS (OAS/OSDE) and the Panamerican Institute of Highways (PIH) with support from the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). The software was developed with the assistance of the PIH Center of the Instituto Superior de Ingeniería del Transporte of the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.

The fundamental objective of PerfilMap’s development was the generation of a tool for analysis, planning and management of data related to infrastructure in selected sectors of economic and social importance in the member states of the OAS. The program generates profiles of vulnerability to natural hazards.

To date, versions of PerfilMap have been developed for the transportation and education sectors. It was conceived as a low cost tool of broad application and compatibility with other systems. These characteristics permit its integration with the information and methodologies available in the sectors.

PerfilMap permits: 1) the administration and processing of multi-thematic information organized for use with geographical information systems (GIS), 2) the grouping of technical data in layers that have maps associated with each one, 3) the visualization of maps and interchange of information between layers using geographic criteria, and 4) the production of thematic maps as a result of the categorization, selection, filtration and interchange of the available information.

PerfilMap incorporates three principal modules:

GeoDat manages, edits and generates case studies through the definition of its layers of information and associated data tables. GeoDat permits consultation, selection of information through conditional criteria, generation of reports and graphics, and modification of the structure of data incorporating formulas, functions and other fields related to the analysis of vulnerability.

GeoMap manages geographic information and permits the visualization of the available information in map form. It unites each geographic entity with its respective attributes. Through various tools, it permits the interchange and crossing of information between different layers, re-drawing the maps in consideration of data classifications or importing logical conditions to the data tables. The module also permits information to be saved in different formats and printed.

Events permits information storage related to the occurrence of natural events together with the consequences resulting from one or a group of the components of the layer. Events is complemented with a model of conditional probability. This permits the analysis of available data series to find the occurrence of natural events in a place or region. Applying this model to the data on event magnitudes from a historical series, it is possible to obtain the probability of the occurrence of an event of a specified magnitude for a determined period of return.

PerfilMap permits storage of information about infrastructure including charactoristics of construction, state of repair, history of environmental problems, socio-economic data, functional data, importance and category, etc. This information can be linked to maps and even to images of the associated infrastructure component.

PerfilMap makes it posible to cross reference a map of danger zones with a map of an infrastructure system to generate a profile of the vulnerability of these components in a region. In this way, the information can be used to generate thematic maps.

Once the components of the infrastructure are associated with information about natural hazards, PerfilMap allows for the incorporation of formulas and mathematical models to link one or more variables and generate a global indicator of vulnerability. Also, it is possible to identify areas and longitudes affected by natural hazards.

PerfilMap is compatible with other GIS through various graphical formats such as DXF, Tosca-Idrisi, Arc-Info, Arc-View and Map-Info. It is possible to use databases of various formats such as Access, Dbase, FoxPro, Paradox, etc. PerfilMap version 1.0 for Windows requires Windows 95 or Windows NT, 16 MB of RAM, at least 15 Mb hard drive space and a SVGA monitor.

OAS - MERCOSUR Transportation Corridor Vulnerability Reduction Project

The Office for Sustainable Development and Environment is coordinating the Regional Project for Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction in Trade Corridors in MERCOSUR in order to help mitigate the effects of natural hazards on the transportation infrastructure of the trade corridors in the countries of the MERCOSUR region. The objective of the project is to analyze the vulnerability of the road system and propose activities to ensure reliable infrastructure which supports and enhances integrated sustainable development. Project activities have been started by the governments of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to identify areas of vulnerability and prepare investment projects at the pre-feasibility level directed at lowering the transportation costs of the road corridors of MERCOSUR.


The following is a list of documents that have been prepared by the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment and the Natural Hazards Project in the areas of transportation corridor vulnerability mitigation and environmental management of transportation corridors.

Globalización de los Mercados Internacionales y su Impacto en la Demanda por Transporte en la Región. Seminario Técnico InterAmericano Infraestructura de Transporte como Factor de Integración. Washington, D.C., 19-21 de octubre de 1994.

Manual para el Curso sobre el Uso de Información sobre Peligros Naturales en la Formulación y Evaluación de Proyectos de Inversión en el Sector Transporte. Washington, D.C. OAS, 1996.

Plan Hemisférico para la Guía de Manejo Ambiental de Corredores de Transporte Vial. Washington, D.C. OAS, 1998. Borrador de Trabajo. (Also available in Portuguese.)

Principales Acciones de los Procesos de Integración en el Campo del Transporte: Casos en América del Sur. Seminario Técnico InterAmericano Infraestructura de Transporte como Factor de Integración. Washington, D.C., October 19-21, 1994.

Proyecto de Reducción de la Vulnerabilidad del Sistema Vial de Transporte a los Peligros Naturales. Washington, D.C. OAS, 1997. (Flier).

Proyecto de Reducción de la Vulnerabilidad del Sistema Vial de Transporte a los Peligros Naturales. Washington, D.C. OAS, 1997. (Video).

Situación y Perspectivas de los Procesos de Integración Regional. Seminario Técnico InterAmericana Infraestructura de Transporte como Factor de Integración. Washington, D.C., October 19-21, 1994.

Situación y Problematica de la Integración de los Transportes en Centroamerica. Seminario Técnico InterAmericana Infraestructura de Transporte como Factor de Integración. Washington, D.C., October 19-21, 1994.

Seminario Interamericano de Infraestructura de Transporte como Factor de Integración. Washington, D.C. OAS, 1995.


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This page was last updated on Tuesday, June 18, 2002