Lord Robertson’s Commission calls for road safety in SDGs 

(l-r) General Victor Kiryanov, Michelle Yeoh, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen and Nikki Jamal
Lord Robertson, Chairman of the Commission for Global Road Safety, speaks at the meeting
General Victor Kiryanov, Deputy Minister of the Interior, Russian Federation speaks at the event
Prince Michael, Patron of the Commission
Varel Freeman, First Vice President EBRD

The Commission for Global Road Safety will call for road safety to be an integral part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal framework following a key meeting in London on 22 November 2012.

The Commission, chaired by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, will mount an advocacy campaign to ensure that road safety is included in the UN framework for international development cooperation that replaces the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.

The Commission has been at the forefront of moves to raise road safety higher up the international agenda. Its members have played a key role, with figures such as General Victor Kiryanov, Deputy Minister of the Interior, Russian Federation leading efforts over a number of years. Russia hosted the first Global Ministerial conference on road safety in 2009 which led to the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.

At the meeting, General Kiryanov, along with other key Commission members, urged further efforts to ensure that the Decade of Action achieves its objectives of saving 5 million lives and preventing 50 million serious injuries. Achieving this aim will require mobilising further financial and political commitment by ensuring that road safety is part of the mainstream global development agenda.

The Commission will now push to include road safety in the framework that replaces the MDGs. Since 2000, the MDGs have focused and channelled global development efforts. However, they did not include road safety even though road crashes result in higher levels of fatalities than communicable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria which were covered by the Goals.

Including road safety in the successor to the MDGs would be essential in order to mobilise the necessary political and financial support for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and to achieve its goal of reducing the forecast level of fatalities by 50% by 2020.

The meeting, which was hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, reviewed key areas of progress in the effort to raise the international profile of road safety and push for global action on the issue. Lord Robertson’s Commission has achieved key milestones with recommendations for a global Ministerial conference, the launch of the UN Decade of Action itself, and the inclusion of road safety in the UN’s agenda for sustainable development all realised.

It was at the Rio+20 Summit that, following an advocacy push from the Commission and on the initiative of the Russian Federation, that road safety was included in a major UN conference on sustainable development for the first time ever. This will provide a platform for the effort to ensure that road safety is included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Chair of the Commission for Global Road Safety, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen said: “The Commission has made significant progress in raising the international profile of road safety. With the launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, there is now opportunity to take this agenda a crucial step forward, one which would result in millions of lives saved on the roads around the world. In order to achieve this we must mobilise political support and financial resources. This can only be achieved by ensuring that road safety is at the heart of the emerging international development agenda post-2015.” 

Lord Robertson emphasised the unique opportunity to establish safe and sustainable transport as one of the priorities for international cooperation and development. A breakthrough was made this year with the inclusion of safe and sustainable transport in Rio+20. And the significant Commitment of the Multilateral Development Banks to sustainable transport at Rio also represented a major step forward.

He said: “We now have the opportunity to build on this progress, and we must not waste it. Our task is critical particularly as over the next decade the world’s motor vehicle fleet is forecast to double to 2 billion, with most of the growth in emerging economies. This will generate significant and unprecedented challenges which will need to be met urgently and makes the need for a sustainable transport SDG all the more pressing.”

Varel Freeman, First Vice President of the EBRD, hosted a lunch for the participants. Keynote speaker was the Patron of the Commission for Global Road Safety, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who also urged inclusion of road safety within the SDGs, saying: “I warmly welcome the recent call by all the development banks for a new Sustainable Development Goal for transport. I welcome too your joint commitment to invest up to US $175 billion  in safe and sustainable transport over the coming decade. If you are able to follow through on these aims you will improve the lives, health and opportunities of millions of people”.

Also announced at the meeting was ‘The Long Short Walk’ designed to support UN Global Road Safety Week in May 2013, and help build a coalition of individuals and organisations joining the call for road safety to be included in the SDG agenda. The Long Short Walk is being launched by the Zenani Mandela campaign, Make Roads Safe and the Road Safety Fund. Zindzi Mandela, the grandmother of Zenani, and daughter of Nelson Mandela has accepted an invitation from Lord Robertson to join the Commission for Global Road Safety.

The meeting also saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the EBRD and the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) to collaborate on road infrastructure safety. The EBRD has pledged to focus on road safety and to implement iRAP methodologies and countermeasures across key road infrastructure projects.

The evening before the meeting the Commission for Global Road Safety was hosted for a dinner reception by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK, His Excellency Alexander Yakovenko at his Residence.