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Joahannesburg Summit 2002
Sustainable Development in Action

United Nations Car Free Day Series

In an effort to encourage 'ground-level' promotion of policies for sustainable development, the Energy and Transport Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development has started the United Nations Car Free Day (UNCFD) series. The UNCFD is undertaking a number of activities as a prelude to the Summit including providing support for the first ever Colombia Car Free Day to be held on 7 February 2002 and organizing a Practicum for Latin American Mayors in Bogotá in conjunction with the Colombian Car Free Day to provide a forum for Mayors from the region to discuss obstacles to development of more sustainable cities and the use of Car Free Days as a tool to this end. The UNCFD is also working with the city of Bilbao, Spain to develop a technical model for a Virtual Car Free Day in Bilbao and looks forward to holding a seminar similar to that in Bogotá in another Asian city.

Why Car Free Days?

A Car Free Day (CFD) can be a useful tool for promoting sustainability not only in the transport sector but in the overall planning for the growth of the city. By creating a break in the normal pattern of behaviour, CFDs can provide an opportunity for the citizens and the municipality of a city to take a step back and reconsider the development path of the transport sector and whether it takes into account and meets the needs of all people. Furthermore, by opening the streets to only public and alternative modes of transport, CFDs can allow an opportunity for more equal use of public spaces, thus addressing issues of social equity as well. On an even broader scale, CFDs can serve to spark a dialogue about the future of the city and allow citizens to ask what exactly they envision their city to become in, say, 20, 50, and 70 years. Comparing what the desired vision of the city is to the current trajectory can prove especially valuable in creating a mandate and wide spread support for more sustainable policies in all sectors. Thus CFDs can be a valuable tool for promoting the goals of sustainable development and it is hoped that through the UNCFD they will gain increased recognition and use in both developed and developing countries.

Fremantle, Australia Shed Your Car Day

The City of Fremantle, Western Australia has volunteered to host the second UN Car Free Day and Practicum. The city is planning a 'Shed Your Car Day' for 9 May 2002 and will host a Practicum for regional mayors on 8-10 May 2002. The Fremantle 'Shed Your Car Day' is a shining example of an initiative that seeks to create a healthier, more sustainable transport system at the local level while engaging a wide range of citizen participation. Since its inception in 2000, the now annual event has been successful in raising the level of dialogue in the community about sustainable transport issues, thus serving as a catalyst in changing behaviour. In an increasingly car-dependant society, the city of Fremantle has succeeded in challenging the notion that the car is the only solution to urban mobility, demonstrating how urban spaces can be different without the dominating effect of car traffic, and encouraging people to experiment with and experience the use of travel alternatives to the car. This year's event will succeed in bringing together hundreds of local community groups and volunteers to promote a more sustainable transport system for Western Australia. To learn more about the Fremantle events in particular, visit www.carfre.org.

See [Fremantle Background Note] [ Fremantle Agenda]

Colombia Car Free Day

The UN Car Free Days project started off its 2002 series with a Practicum for Latin American Mayors that coincided with Colombia Car Free Day, held on 7 February 2002. Bogotá held its first ground-breaking Car Free Day on Thursday 24 February 2000, pulling all its private vehicles off the street and opening public spaces to greater access for public and alternative modes of transport. The removal of private vehicles from the streets of the city sparked a dynamic dialogue that questioned the path of the development of the transport infrastructure and provided citizens with the opportunity to reconsider city transport patterns on a long term scale. Since then, Bogotá has continued to move toward greater access and sustainability by using the mandate of the Car Free Day to expand and promote public and alternative transport. (To learn more about the first Bogotá CFD, visit www.ecoplan.org/votebogota2000/index.htm). This year, with the help of the UNCFD and leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Bogotá was joined by three other Colombian cities including Cali, Valledupar, and Chia for the first ever Colombia Car Free Day.

UN DESA joined Colombia and Bogotá in celebrating the life and strength of their emerging new transport paradigm by organising a Practicum for Mayors from the Latin American Region. The Practicum allowed participants to experience first hand the complexities of organizing a Car Free Day and the ways in which it can be used as a public education and awareness tool for promoting more sustainable transport policies. The Practicum also served as a forum to discuss the obstacles and possible solutions to creating such a pattern break in other Latin American cities. It was held on 6-8 February 2002 and was hosted by the City of Bogotá and the Ministry of Environment.

See [Bogota Workshop Statement]

Virtual Bilbao Car Free Day

Car Free Days (CFDs) are frequently used in Europe and around the world as a means of raising awareness of environmental and sustainability issues. These days vary in scale and level of municipal commitment, yet there is often very little in terms of technical preparation for the event, impact analysis, and follow up in using lessons learned during the day to reformulate the city's mobility arrangements. The transport sector is an integral part of every city's economic lifeline, and careful technical analysis is required if modifications and improvements are to be made to the system. Thus, one of the major goals of the UNCFD series is to promote and ensure rigorous technical analysis throughout the process of planning, implementing, and learning from Car Free Days.

To this end, the UNCFD is working with the City of Bilbao and the Region of Bizkaia, Spain to create a 'Virtual Car Free Day'. A Car Free Day will be a modelled via a computer generated modelling exercise that will show what the effects of various versions of a Car Free Day on the city would be, as compared to the normal working day. Different vehicle reduction scenarios will be developed to show the impact of the reduction in vehicle use in terms of congestion, emissions, and travel time. The exercise will provide invaluable insight into the capabilities and needs of the city's public and alternative transport infrastructure as well as provide the technical first step required for the successful planning of any Car Free Day. It is hoped that the exercise will provide an invaluable model to cities in both developed and developing countries of the planning required for and the benefits of a Car Free Day.

For more information regarding the UNCFD series, visit www.uncfd.org or contact badiozamani@un.org.

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24 August 2006