Sustainable transport on the agenda for global conference

Recognizing the fundamental role of sustainable transport in fighting climate change and achieving sustainable development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene the first ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference on 26 and 27 November 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Around 1,500 participants, including Heads of State and Government, private sector CEOs, civil society leaders and UN officials will discuss all modes of transport – road, rail, air, and waterborne.

Improving well-being of people and planet

Sustainable Transport is an essential building block for sustainable development. It “helps drive inclusive growth, provide access to public services, jobs, markets, and it promotes trade,” said UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, who is also the Secretary-General of the Conference.

“It empowers women, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups to lead a productive life and livelihood”, Mr. Wu added.

The Conference will seek to identify measures that can help transform transport so that it contributes to healthy and fulfilled lives, inclusive economic growth, and environmental protection.

Major transport challenges

At present, the transport sector is responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to millions of premature deaths resulting from air pollution annually. More than 1.24 million people die every year in traffic accidents, 90 per cent of these in developing countries. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide still lack adequate access to road networks, which increases isolation and marginalization and can deepen social inequalities.

The promotion of sustainable transport and the establishment of affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound transport systems are crucial for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will be at the centre of the discussions at the Conference.

Sustainable transport and the SDGs

“A thread running throughout the Conference discussions will be the contribution of sustainable transport to the implementation of the sustainable development goals and targets,” said Mr. Wu. Several SDG targets are directly linked to transport, such as SDG target 11.2 on access to sustainable transport systems and target 3.6 on road safety. Sustainable transport also acts as an enabler to achieve other SDGs and targets, including on climate change, energy, equality, women’s empowerment, employment and health.

Some of the issues to be addressed at the Conference include rural and urban transport, multi-modal transport, public transport, the links of sustainable transport to climate change and energy, road safety, financing, and specific needs of countries in special situations. The concerns of developing countries, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, will receive particular focus.

The report of the High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport of the Secretary-General will be an important input to the Conference. The programme of the Conference has been published on the Conference website, and registration for all categories of participants is now open.

Call for Commitments and Partnerships

The Secretary-General is encouraging all Member States, UN entities, major groups and other stakeholders to register commitments and partnerships for sustainable transport through the Conference website. These registered initiatives will be an important outcome of the Conference.

In the margins of the Conference, a Treaty Event will be held, which will be used to ratify, accept, approve or accede to a number of transportation treaties. The Government of Turkmenistan will also host a business forum in parallel to the Conference on 27 November. More information on these and on official Side Events are available on the Conference website.

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