Why sustainable transport takes centre stage in October


Across the world, countries are using the power of technology and innovation to improve their transport systems so that they are sustainable — safe, accessible, efficient, resilient, and affordable. Electric buses, low carbon-based vehicles and bike lanes are being increasingly integrated into urban planning. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many cities to rethink their transport systems, with bicycles for example, offering a good alternative to mass transportation.

UN/A. Istria

All modes of transport — road, rail, aviation, ferry and maritime — are critical to development. Transport provides people with an opportunity to access employment, health care services, attend schools, and socially interact with others.  It also allows for the delivery of goods and services to both rural and urban communities.

However, currently, almost 25% of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. Approximately 1.35 million people die every year from road accidents. Air pollution, traffic congestion and the lack of safe transport for women and girls are the result of current transport systems. Millions of persons with disabilities cannot access public transportation and older persons struggle to move from one place to the next.


The UN Sustainable Transport Conference

The UN Sustainable Transport Conference that takes place in Beijing, China on 14 to 16 October will draw attention to the essential role that sustainable transport plays in tackling climate change, boosting the economy, and fostering social development — hallmarks of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.  Sustainable transport can promote good health, improve food security, address climate change and empower women and girls.

The landmark event calls for an urgent overhaul of current transport systems so that transportation needs, expected to increase in the coming years, can be properly addressed. The concerns of vulnerable groups, such as women, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and of many developing countries, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, will also receive particular focus.


5 ways you can drive progress for sustainable transport

  • Walk or bike more. See ActNow campaign
  • Take public transportation
  • Do carpooling
  • Buy an electric vehicle
  • Ask your government to make transport more accessible and safer