Funding agreement with UN-ECE to deliver 'Global Goals' target

Main Image
The new FIA Foundation grant enabled NGOs to attend the UN consultation meeting
The new FIA Foundation grant enabled NGOs to attend the UN consultation meeting
Jean Todt offered NGO participation or input at his high level meetings, for example here with President Kenyatta of Kenya
Jean Todt offered NGO participation or input at his high level meetings, for example here with President Kenyatta of Kenya

The FIA Foundation is to provide funding to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) to help establish a global road safety secretariat to support implementation of the action plan of the new UN Special Envoy for Road Safety.

Responding to a request by the UN, the Foundation will provide funding support to UN-ECE to enable establishment of the office of the UN Special Envoy, Jean Todt. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed Mr Todt as his Special Envoy for Road Safety in April 2015, charged with raising the profile of global road traffic injury prevention and establishing new global partnerships to help implement the road safety targets in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The announcement of funding support was made by the FIA Foundation’s director, Saul Billingsley, at a road safety Multi-Stakeholder Consultation chaired by UN-ECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach at UN headquarters in Geneva on 1st October 2015. The participation of NGOs from across the world in the meeting was made possible through travel bursaries from the Foundation’s new grant with UN-ECE.

The FIA Foundation also has active funding partnerships with the World Health Organization, the UN Environment Programme and UNICEF, as well as with the World Bank, partnerships which are delivering global road safety activities as well as programmes promoting non-motorised transport and walkability for children. But because Jean Todt is President of the FIA and an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees of the FIA Foundation, the Foundation feels it is important, and in the public interest, to set out its expectations regarding the funding provided to UN-ECE.

In a letter to Mr Friis Bach, Saul Billingsley stated:

"The FIA Foundation does not ask for, or expect to receive, any special access, preferential treatment or policy advantage from UN-ECE, the UN Special Envoy or any other UN entity arising from this grant. We welcome the publicly stated commitment of both Mr Todt and yourself to ensure that the UN Special Envoy represents all stakeholders, and particularly those – like pedestrians, cyclists, children and people from lower income groups - who are most vulnerable to road traffic injury but whose concerns and needs are not yet sufficiently heard or recognised in policy fora. In this regard we respectfully encourage UN-ECE and the UN Special Envoy to ensure regular, open and constructive consultation across the widest possible spectrum of interested stakeholders, and to manage the Office of the UN Special Envoy to the highest standards of openness, responsiveness and accountability to the road safety community and the wider public.”

“We recognise and value the strong commitment of both the UN-ECE and the FIA to improving global road safety and believe it is in the best interests of both the UN and the FIA, as well as in the public interest, that there is a clearly delineated and publicly communicated framework explaining how Mr Todt’s UN responsibilities will interact with, and where necessary be separated from, his role as President of the FIA.”

“This new office of UN Special Envoy for Road Safety provides an exciting opportunity to reach policymakers at the highest level, to engage the private sector and to promote the important road safety work of the UN-ECE and other UN institutions and agencies. The FIA Foundation is pleased to be able to contribute to supporting this work, and we wish Jean Todt every success in achieving his objectives of increasing visibility and political and financial support for action to combat the global road traffic injury epidemic."

In a letter to Mr Billingsley, Christian Friis Bach, UN-ECE Executive Secretary, said:

"I am very pleased that the FIA Foundation is prepared to contribute to support the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety. I also fully agree that the nomination of Mr Todt as a special envoy creates an immense opportunity to reach policy makers, to engage public and private sectors and to promote the important road safety work of the United Nations secretariat and other United Nations agencies. I am convinced that the financial support from the FIA Foundation will further foster United Nations efforts to improve the road safety record across the world and therefore it is very much appreciated."

The consultation meeting involved more than 40 NGOs from around the world, convened by the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety. Jean Todt presented his objectives for his term as UN Special Envoy, including his intention to build wider support for delivery of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and the targets (3.6 and 11.2) in the Global Sustainable Development Goals which directly relate to road traffic injury prevention and danger reduction. NGOs provided their feedback, based on an extensive survey of members, and also expressed their concerns about a potential conflict of interest between Mr Todt's role as UN Special Envoy and his elected position as President of the FIA, the world federation of automobile clubs and the governing body of motor sport.

Mr Todt assured participants that he intends to equally represent all constituents in the road safety movement and to use the global media reach of motor sport to promote responsible and progressive messages on speeding, drink driving and other 'risk factors'. He also agreed with NGOs that he would coordinate to ensure NGO input into his high-level meetings with government leaders. He described the work of Global NCAP, funded by the FIA Foundation and involving many FIA automobile clubs, in holding the motor industry to account on vehicle safety standards, and the work of the International Road Assessment Programme – also funded by the Foundation and involving many auto clubs – in advocating for safer road design for vulnerable road users. He said that if a potential conflict of interest arose between his FIA role and his UN Special Envoy position, his commitment to road safety and the UN code of conduct he has signed up to would come first.

One of Mr Todt’s priorities is to increase funding for global catalytic action for road safety. The Multi-Stakeholder Consultation, which also involved government representatives from countries including France, Germany, Russia and the United States, as well as officials from WHO and the World Bank, included an exploratory discussion led by Mr Friis Bach and Eva Molnar, Transport Director at UN-ECE, on the potential of establishing a new UN Fund for global road safety. An official report of the meeting is expected to be published shortly and will also be posted here once available.