Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Briefing to Member States
Global Sustainable Transport Conference

Good afternoon.
Welcome to this joint briefing by the Mission of Turkmenistan and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Let me start with some background on this Conference.

As part of the Secretary-General’s initiatives in advancing climate action and sustainable development, the Secretary-General identified sustainable transport as one of the building blocks of his priorities for sustainable development.

One major initiative in this regard is the first-ever global sustainable transport conference.

Sustainable transport, including sustainable mobility, is crucial for sustainable development. It helps drive inclusive growth, provide access to public services, jobs, markets, and it promotes trade. It empowers women, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups to lead a productive life and livelihood.

There are also challenges – transport is the source of growing CO2 emissions and contributes to air pollution and premature deaths. More than one and a quarter million people lose their lives due to traffic accidents, with most such fatalities occurring in developing countries.

Addressing these social, economic and environmental dimensions is therefore critical for advancing the implementation of the SDGS.

Indeed, the General Assembly, by its resolution 70/197 of December 2015, welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General to convene a global sustainable transport conference.

The Conference will build on earlier intergovernmental discussions and will provide a platform for exchanges of experiences and best practices.

The Secretary-General has encouraged Member States, UN system entities, civil society and the private sector to launch partnership initiatives.

The Government of Turkmenistan has generously offered to host this Conference. I would like to take this opportunity to convey our deep appreciation to the President and Government of Turkmenistan for having offered to host this important event.

As many of you know, Turkmenistan has worked tirelessly to advance sustainable multi-modal transport and transit corridors, as important means to connect countries and regions in sustainable development.

The Conference will be held on 26 and 27 November 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. It will bring together key stakeholders from Governments, UN system and other international organizations, the private sector, and civil society.

The Conference will focus on all modes of transport—road, rail, air and waterborne. Some of the issues to be addressed at the Conference include rural and urban transport, multi-modal transport, public transport, the links between sustainable transport and climate change, energy, road safety, financing, and the specific needs of countries in special situations.

A thread running throughout the Conference discussions will be the contribution of sustainable transport to the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets.

Several SDG targets directly address transport, such as 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 empowerment, employment and health.

Let me now turn to the progamme of the Conference.

The Conference will feature an opening and closing ceremony. In addition, each day will have a plenary session in the morning to hear statements of commitment and ambition, followed by parallel thematic discussions on various sustainable transport-related topics.

The programme of the Conference has been published on the Conference website [https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/Global-Sustainable-Transport-Conference-2016]

All United Nations entities working on sustainable transport have been invited to join the effort and are engaged in the preparations for the Conference.

Colleagues from different parts of the UN system will support the preparation of concept notes for the thematic discussions and the panelists.

As I mentioned earlier, the Secretary-General is encouraging all Member States, UN entities, major groups and other stakeholders to register their commitments and partnerships through the Conference website
[https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/Global-Sustainable-Transport-Conference-2016].

Registered initiatives, which can be entered ahead of, or during the Conference, will be an important outcome of the Conference.

As you may know, as an integral part of his action agenda on sustainable transport, the Secretary-General also appointed a High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport.

The Group has worked continuously for over two years in order to provide a global message and recommendations on sustainable transport. It will launch the Global Sustainable Transport Outlook Report on 28 October 2016 and hand it over to the Secretary-General. The report will provide an important contribution to the Conference.

In the same vein, I would also like to mention that the High-Level Meeting on Sustainable Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries, held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia last week, will also serve as an important input to the Conference.

The meeting addressed particularly the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries and provided excellent recommendations for the Conference in Ashgabat.

On the practical arrangements, DESA as Conference Secretariat has prepared a detailed information note that includes all the necessary information, including on accreditation of Delegations, inscription to the speakers’ list, hotel accommodations, transportation and other topics.

The note also includes the details for the accreditation procedure for the representatives of the UN system, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the private sector.

The information note has been circulated to all Permanent Missions here in New York. It has also been published on the Conference website that can be found through the UN website [https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/Global-Sustainable-Transport-Conference-2016].

Registration for all categories of participants is now open. The pre-accreditation for Member States has been opened by the United Nations Protocol and Liaison Service.

We do strongly urge you to make use of the pre-accreditation option for Delegates before 17 November 2016 here in New York, since this will simplify the process and shorten wait times in Ashgabat.

All participants of the Conference, regardless of the type of passports, will need to obtain a visa to enter Turkmenistan. You will find the details in the information note.

The Host Country has graciously agreed to support the participation of developing country participants. Information about the application process has been circulated to all Permanent Missions in New York.

Booking of all accommodation will be done through the Diplomatic Protocol Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. Again more details are available on the conference website.

The Division for Sustainable Development of DESA is serving as the substantive Secretariat for the Conference. DSD colleagues will stay behind after this briefing to answer any questions you may have about the arrangements for the Conference.

Side events sponsored by Governments, UN system and other inter-governmental organizations, as well as major groups and other stakeholders, will be organized on the margins of the official meetings of the Conference.

The side events will allow additional informal space for sharing experiences and provide alternative opportunities for dialogue. The deadline to register side events of 17 October 2016 has passed and the requests are currently being reviewed.

On the margins of the Conference, a Treaty Event will be held. The event will be an opportunity to ratify, accept, approve or accede to a number of transportation treaties. On 7 September, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan and I sent a joint letter to the Foreign Ministers of Member States through the Permanent Missions in New York to invite them to the Treaty Event.

We would like to urge Member States to take advantage of this opportunity and submit your country’s instruments of ratification and/or accession to the transport-related legal instruments listed in the letter.

I would like to remind delegations that instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession should be submitted for verification to the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations at least four weeks in advance of the Treaty Event.

In addition to the official Conference side events, the Government of Turkmenistan will host a business forum in parallel to the Conference on 27 November. More information on this can be found from the Host Country’s dedicated website for the Conference.

The Government of Turkmenistan will provide information about the social programme of the Conference at a later stage.

On behalf of the Secretary-General I would like to join the Host Government in reassuring all participants that we will work together with all stakeholders to make sure that the first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference conclude successfully, with tangible, forward-looking and action –oriented outcomes.

To conclude, the first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference offers a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to come together to forge a new paradigm for the “sustainable transport we need” in the era of the SDGs.

It offers a chance to look at a vital, cross-cutting issue that will help us in achieving so many of our hopes and goals, and to find concrete solutions to the challenges we face.

Hence, we hope to see you all in Ashgabat in November 2016.

Thank you.

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