UN Sustainable Transport Report urges ‘investment redirection’; highlights Foundation programmes

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The United Nations Secretary General’s Sustainable Transport report.
The United Nations Secretary General’s Sustainable Transport report.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has done much to raise the profile of sustainable transport during his term in office.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has done much to raise the profile of sustainable transport during his term in office.

A major UN report on sustainable transport from an advisory panel established by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called for a ‘redirection in infrastructure expenditure’ to set the world on a sustainable, low-carbon, path. The report showcases Foundation programmes including the Global Fuel Economy Initiative and the ‘Save Kids Lives’ campaign for safe journeys to school.

Setting out a vision of “…cities with quiet streets, clean air, easy and equitable access to work and school, and vibrant community life”, the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport launched its report ‘Mobilising Sustainable Transport for Development’ at UN headquarters in New York on 28 October 2016. The report reinforces the importance of investment in safe and sustainable mobility for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report describes “…enormous opportunities presented by sustainable transport: saving hundreds of thousands of lives every year through improved road safety and reduced air pollution, and reducing carbon emissions by 7 gigatonnes. The transformation to sustainable transport requires a redirection, rather than any substantial increase, in infrastructure expenditure and can be realised through an annual investment of around US$2 trillion, similar to the current ‘business as usual’ spending of US$1.4 to US$2.1 trillion.”

“If current trends continue, congestion, air pollution and traffic fatalities will continue to rise, moving the human family away from the sustainable future envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the Advisory Panel warns. “Bold shifts now will allow these cities and societies to change course…”

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Increase international development funding and climate funding for sustainable transport;
  • Make transport planning, policy and investment decisions based on the three sustainable development dimensions—social development, environmental (including climate) impacts and economic growth—and a full life cycle analysis;
  • Reinforce efforts toward preventing road traffic deaths and injuries - promote road and transport system design that gives priority and emphasis to protecting people from death and injury, taking into account human fallibility and vulnerability;
  • Ensure that minimum safety standards for vehicles…are set and enforced, with particular attention to the secondary market in developing countries;
  • Give priority to low emission, efficient and equitable transport solutions.

In his introduction to the report, Ban Ki Moon says: “Sustainable transport is fundamental to progress in realizing the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable transport supports inclusive growth, job creation, poverty reduction, access to markets, the empowerment of women, and the well-being of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. It is also essential to our efforts to fight climate change, reduce air pollution and improve road safety.”

Two Foundation-supported programmes are included as case studies. The report features the Global Fuel Economy Initiative as an example of innovation and efficiency in vehicles, and highlights GFEI’s work in Kenya, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire and Indonesia.

The report also refers to the importance of safe journeys to school and discusses the work of the NGO Amend in implementing a programme to systematically assess areas around schools and improve road safety in collaboration with schools, the civil society and local authorities, as part of an FIA Foundation-funded initiative. It praises the Save Kids Lives campaign and its key objectives for child safety, including a safe journey to school for every child including safe roads and speed management around every school; safe school transport including seatbelts on all school buses; vehicles safe for children and action to promote child restraints; motorcycle helmets for all children where two-wheelers are the main family transport; and enforcement and action against drunk-driving.

Picking up the Foundation’s research on the potential of social impact investing to improve the safety design of roads, the report calls for further investigation of the opportunities to use social impact investment to “capture the long term financial benefits of improved road safety to fund the up-front capital improvement of road infrastructure”.

The panel, co-chaired by Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo Group, and Carolina Tohá, the Mayor of Santiago, Chile, consisted of leading experts from across the transport sector and related businesses. The FIA Foundation contributed to the report, and its Deputy Director, Sheila Watson, served on an expert advisory group supporting the Panel. The report was launched ahead of a major UN Sustainable Transport Conference to be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in November.

Read the ‘Mobilising Sustainable Transport for Development’ report here.