Climate and SDG delivery on agenda at Transforming Transportation
Organising to build on the COP21 agreement and the inclusion of transport targets in the Sustainable Development Goals was top of the agenda at the 2016 ‘Transforming Transportation’ event, hosted by the World Bank and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The global meeting, held at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington D.C. , brings together more than 500 transport, environmental and urban policymakers. This year, for the first time, the FIA Foundation was an official partner of the event. Opened by the CEO of WRI, Andrew Steer, and Laura Tuck, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, the theme of the meeting was ‘From the Global Agenda to Local Action’. Sessions reviewed the implications of the Paris Climate Agreement and the inclusion of road safety and other sustainable transport targets in the SDGs, to explore how best governments, international institutions, civil society, the private sector and other players can work together to embed safe, sustainable and low carbon policies in national, regional and city action plans. With more than 60% of the national climate plans - ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) – presented by countries at the COP21 summit including proposals for reducing carbon emissions from transport, and with a range of international transport initatives, including the Global Fuel Economy Initiative, presented at COP21 under the ‘Paris Lima Action Agenda’, the focus of discussion included practical ways to organise and make reality of such a strong policy momentum.
Road safety was a key theme of the event, reflecting the growing profile of the issue within wider urban and transportation policies. In a keynote introduction, Pierre Guislan, Senior Director for Transport and ICT at the World Bank, argued for countries to make detailed road safety commitments as part of the SDG monitoring process – similar to the ‘ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ to carbon reduction presented at the COP21 summit – in order to make real progress in reducing road traffic casualties. He also committed the World Bank to a more proactive stance on the issue, saying that client governments and cities need to be actively encouraged to take a safer direction in their borrowing proposals.
A plenary session on road safety heard from Luxembourg’s Minister of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Francois Bausch, who set out his government’s objectives for halving road fatailties by 2020 – as part of a European Union target – and how this corresponded to the global SDG effort. Mr Bausch, who is responsible for road safety in his country, explained how Luxembourg’s approach is guided by the ‘Vision Zero’ philosophy which sees all deaths and serious injuries as ultimately preventable. Speaking in the session, the FIA Foundation’s director, Saul Billingsley, argued that securing increasing catalytic funding for road safety would be important for helping middle and low income countries to make progress. He said that countries needed to quickly internalise the SDG road safety target and the road safety community should work to ensure a robust monitoring framework within the SDG process. He highlighted Foundation research underway with social impact experts to better quantify the lifetime health costs of road traffic injuries and investment benefits of road safety interventions. As Soames Job, the new Lead for Road Safety at the World Bank, speaking on the same panel, pointed out: “Road safety isn’t charity work, it is a sound economic investment”.
Integrating sustainable mobility within city planning policies was another key theme of Transforming Transportation. Speaking in an opening panel on delivering the Paris Agreement, Jose Viegas, Secretary General of the International Transport Forum, argued that there needed to be an emphasis on providing access for people to the essential services that guarantee quality of life, rather than on mobility per se. In the road safety panel Claudia Adriazola-Steil, WRI’s Director of Health & Road Safety, pointed out the many benefits of compact cities and planning decisions that enable provision of local services, employment and leisure. Other considerations are also important. Speaking in a lively Pecha Kucha session on women’s safety and security, Sheila Watson, the FIA Foundation’s Director of Environment & Research, previewed new research being undertaken by the Foundation which is exploring the barriers to use of public transport by women in India. And a session on designing safer streets including speakers from the City of Bogota, NACTO and the Institute for Transport & Development heard calls for a ‘people first’ approach to urban planning and street management, prioritising pedestrian and cyclist facilities to unlock the immense health benefits of increased exercise, improved air quality and reduced road traffic injuries in low-speed environments. In the road safety session, Saul Billingsley also highlighted the importance of integrating road safety into the ‘New Urban Agenda’ to be agreed at the HABITAT III conference in October.