U.N. Proposes Path to Sustainable Transport
Greater investment in greener, more sustainable transport systems is essential for propelling the economic and social development that is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to an expert panel report delivered to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late in October.
Finding that global, national and local transport systems are hobbled by inefficiencies and a lack of sustainable investments, the expert panel issued a report entitled “Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development” which provides 10 recommendations on how governments, businesses and civil society should re-direct resources in the transport sector to advance sustainable development. The recommendations address issues of policy, technology and financing:
1. Make transport planning, policy and investment decisions based on the three sustainable development dimensions—social development, environmental (including climate) impacts and economic growth—and a full life cycle analysis.
2. Integrate all sustainable transport planning efforts with an appropriately-balanced development of transport modes: integration vertically among levels of government and horizontally across modes, territories and sectors.
3. Create supportive institutional, legal and regulatory government frameworks to promote effective sustainable transport.
4. Build technical capacity of transport planners and implementers, especially in developing countries, through partnerships with international organizations, multilateral development banks, and governments at all levels, to ensure equitable access to markets, jobs, education and other necessities.
5. Reinforce efforts toward preventing road traffic deaths and injuries.
6. Foster an informed, engaged public as a crucial partner in advancing sustainable transport solutions.
7. Establish monitoring and evaluation frameworks for sustainable transport, and build capacity for gathering and analyzing sound and reliable data and statistics.
8. Promote diversified funding sources and coherent fiscal frameworks to advance sustainable transport systems, initiatives and projects.
9. Increase international development funding and climate funding for sustainable transport.
10. Promote sustainable transport technologies through outcome-oriented government investment and policies that encourage private sector investment and action through various incentive structures.
The report found that a transformational change to sustainable transport can be realized through annual investments of around $2 trillion, similar to the current business-as-usual spending of $1.4 trillion to $2.1 trillion.
These investments in sustainable transport could lead to fuel savings and lower operational costs, decreased congestion and reduced air pollution. Additionally, it is estimated that efforts to promote sustainable transport can deliver savings of up to $70 trillion by 2050.
A move to sustainable freight and passenger transport that includes integrated port terminals, well-planned airports and harmonized standards and regulations for efficient border crossings, could produce a global GDP increase by $2.6 trillion.
Writing in the report’s foreword, Ban noted that sustainable transport was essential to efforts to fight climate change, reduce air pollution and improve road safety. “Sustainable transport supports inclusive growth, job creation, poverty reduction, access to markets, the empowerment of women and the well-being of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.”
At present, the transport sector is responsible for approximately 23 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and 3.5 million premature deaths result from outdoor air pollution annually, mostly in low and middle income countries.
A Ferry Perspective
“It is advisable in projects like this to break the recommendations down into smaller tasks and assign them to particular people or organizations,” says Len Roueche, a director of the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA) and Consultant to Förde Reederei Seetouristik (FRS), and former CEO of Interferry. “Key partners should include the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the other multinational development banks.”
Roueche also offered his views on the need for building the technical capacity of transport planners and implementers, especially in developing countries. He cited recent partnerships between Damen, a builder of ferries, with Philippine customers, aimed at crew training, and between Videotel and the IMO Interferry Ferry Safety project in Bangladesh.
“I am hopeful that similar partnerships from the ferry sector can be formed to support the sustainable initiative.” Roueche also referred to successful information sharing efforts, where the IMO has hosted fora for operators and government officials in Indonesia, China, the Philippines and the South Pacific islands.
In addition, Interferry in its annual meetings has brought together experienced naval architects, safety personnel and maritime operations executives together with students and professionals from the developing world. The Worldwide Ferry Safety Association is dedicated to reducing ferry fatalities throughout the world and sponsors an international student design competition for safe affordable ferries for developing nations. So far, the students have created innovative solutions for passenger (and freight) transport in the waters of Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
Roueche also cited the WFSA’s annual conference on Ferry Safety and Technology. The WFSA commissions and pays for student reports on ferry safety and is engaged in developing a mobile eleaning course for the ferry sector.
The report is available here.