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Development Account Projects

Building the capacities of developing countries to shift towards sustainable freight transport


Sustainable freight transport entails the ability to provide reliable, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, low-carbon and climate-resilient transport systems. It has the potential not only to help improve energy efficiency and address negative environmental and climate change impacts associated with large-scale transportation, but also to reduce vulnerability to rising and volatile energy prices that drive up fuel and transport costs. As such, it is an important consideration in the creation of sustainable development.

The importance of enhancing the environmental sustainability and climate performance of the transport sector and its services has been recognized at recent multilateral conferences. One of the outcomes of the thirteenth session of UNCTAD (the Doha Mandate) and the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“The future we want”) referred explicitly to sustainable transport and recognized its importance in a global sustainable development framework. The participants in both conferences identified measures to promote the development of sustainable transport systems, including through energy-efficient, multimodal transport systems and clean fuels and vehicles/vessels, as well as improved transportation systems, including in rural areas, and the need to promote an integrated approach and private-public partnerships. However, for most developing countries, bringing about this shift is difficult, given the lack of well-articulated strategies and of available financial resources. The project is aimed at addressing these shortfalls by helping national and regional stakeholders to develop transport policies and strategies that promote planning and investment decisions that exploit and foster synergies between freight transport and the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable development.

The project will be implemented in two selected regions, Africa and the Caribbean, to allow for the drawing of lessons learned and comparisons and to create synergies where possible. Several countries in these two regions have made some progress in promoting the shift to sustainable transport and provide examples to be learned from and replicated. It will be important for each region to draw on existing experiences and best practices in formulating its own approach, which will take into account its local/regional/subregional circumstances, conditions and opportunities and be consistent with its longer-term strategic development plans and objectives. In this respect, the project is aimed at strengthening the capacities of policymakers (transport, infrastructure and finance), transport operators (rail, road and seaport) and financial institutions to effectively mainstream the concept of sustainability into transport planning and financing decisions and to develop appropriate tools and mechanisms. The project involves three components. The first is a knowledge-based development component, which is expected to be the main pillar of the project. It consists of the development of two complementary tools: (a) reference/training materials (toolkit) and (b) a web-based platform (centre of excellence for the sharing of information and experience). These will feature training materials, best practices, case studies and reference materials regarding the development and financing of sustainable freight transport systems. Secondly, the project includes a capacity-building and training component that will include two regional workshops, one in Africa and one in the Caribbean. Two training workshops based on the toolkit will be conducted in order to promote awareness-raising and the sharing of experiences/best practices among relevant public and private sector stakeholders on the various aspects of sustainable freight transport and finance, and to identify and agree on common policy priority/areas and actions promoting sustainability in freight transport in the two regions. Thirdly, national workshops will be conducted in two selected countries (one in Africa and one in the Caribbean) to support the efforts of national institutions to develop appropriate freight transport strategies and financing mechanisms. This would be a demand-driven activity delivered to the two countries following the regional workshops.


To build the capacity of policymakers (transport, infrastructure and finance), transport operators (rail, road and seaport) and key financial institutions in Africa and the Caribbean to promote and finance sustainable freight transport through sound transport policy measures and adequate financing actions and strategies

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced knowledge and cooperation among policymakers, transport operators and financiers in Africa and the Caribbean to promote and finance sustainable freight transport development
  • Strengthened capacity of policymakers, transport operators and financiers in selected countries to effectively plan/develop and adopt requisite policies/strategies to promote and finance the development of sustainable freight transport systems

Implementation status:

Summary of the progress report for 2014

The following activities have taken place/ are ongoing:

  • Three consultants have been recruited to develop training materials related to sustainable freight transport and PPPs.
  • Preliminary identification and contact with relevant institutions, development banks, as well as other existing programmes has been made to promote cooperation, information sharing, and best practices in the field of sustainable freight transport and finance, including through a web based platform.
  • Potential stakeholders have also been contacted to discuss the implementation of project activities namely the provision of regional training workshops in the Caribbean and East Africa.