Sustainable transport essential to new global goals and low carbon economy – UN panel

Bicycle-taxi in the streets of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo: ILO/Marcel Crozet

12 June 2015 – A high-level United Nations advisory group established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, agreed today to take measures that could accelerate a shift toward safer, healthier, more efficient and sustainable transport systems.

Meeting in Milan, Italy, the High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport agreed to develop a set of policy maker recommendations and to work to convene, in 2016, the first international conference on sustainable transport.

Also next year, the Advisory Group will produce the first global, sustainable transport outlook report, which will contain all transport modes and important issues – including road safety, climate impacts, health issues and clean fuels.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo said in a press release: “We simply have to build better, safer and more sustainable transportation systems if we are going to promote prosperity and greater social well-being while protecting the environment.”

Sustainable transport is an increasingly important concern in a rapidly urbanizing planet where 54 per cent of the population lives in cities.

With 1.3 billion cars, vans, trucks and buses currently on the world’s roads, and all indications pointing to a continued pattern of motorization, the number of motor vehicles is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2035. The transport sector is already responsible for nearly a quarter of all global energy-related emissions and transportation has been the largest energy consuming sector in 40 per cent of all countries.

The growing need for sustainable transport has gained prominence at the international level – such as at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil and the 2014 Climate Summit in New York. The need for sustainable transport is well integrated into the proposed development goals to be presented for adoption at the Sustainable Development Summit this September.

On the Advisory Group, Mr. Wu elaborated that its purpose “is to provide recommendations to policy makers and business and civil society leaders that will help build sustainable transport systems that will effectively move people and goods while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accidents at the same time.”

A Technical Working Group – comprised of experts from various UN organizations and non-UN institutions active in transport-related activities – provides technical and analytical inputs to the Advisory Group, which use them to base tier recommendations on sound technical foundations.

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