UN Special Envoy leads global mission for road safety SDG & UN Fund
High level meetings in Latin America and Africa have been the latest staging posts for the campaign by the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, to galvanise countries to do more to meet the Sustainable Development Goals road safety target and to approve a new UN Road Safety Fund.
During August, Jean Todt has met with government leaders in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as giving the annual lecture at the Federal Road Safety Corps in Nigeria, where he held discussions with the country’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (main photo above). The Office of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, based at the UNECE in Geneva, which coordinates the Envoy’s visits and also leads policy missions to advise governments, is co-funded with a grant from the FIA Foundation. Together, the UNECE and the Special Envoy are spearheading efforts to establish a new UN Road Safety Fund. UNECE estimates that US$770 million a year in international funding, over a decade, is needed to catalyse and support country road safety strategies in order to meet the SDG target to halve road traffic deaths. The latest round of consultation on the proposed fund was closed during August.
Mr Todt’s August mission took him to Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and El Salvador. In Costa Rica he met the UN Civil Society Advisory Group and other representatives of civil society to discuss safe mobility in the country. He then met with the local UN Country Team, along with participants from the World Bank and Inter-Development Bank, where Costa Rica’s progress on safe and accessible mobility in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals was discussed. This meeting also established what steps still needed to be taken to improve the road safety situation in Costa Rica, and set the stage for discussions with government players later in the day.
Following the meetings with local UN Team officials, Mr. Todt then met Germán Valverde, Minister of Transport, and Dr. Karen Mayorga Quiros, Minister of Health, to encourage increased coordination between the two government ministries in tackling road fatalities as a public health issue. The discussion with the two ministers was followed by a meeting with Ana Helena Chacon, Vice-President of Costa Rica. Jean Todt, who is also President of the FIA and an ex-officio trustee of the FIA Foundation, also met with directors of the Automóvil Club de Costa Rica (ACCR), which has been a leading advocate for road safety nationally and regionally for many years and played a key role in the Foundation’s Make Roads Safe campaign securing the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.
During a press conference, Mr. Todt expressed his optimism following stakeholder meetings. “After discussion with key players at the global and local level, I believe there is a general consensus that road safety must be a priority for the upcoming years. It is by no means an easy road ahead, but with close collaboration between all facets of government such as transport, education, public works, and health, Costa Rica will be able to improve its road safety situation dramatically over the coming years.”
In Barbados, on another leg of his mission, Jean Todt met with leading officials, including Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Freundel Stuart (who is Chair of Barbados’ National Road Safety Council); the Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley; Minister of Health, John Boyce; and the UN Resident Coordinator, Stephen O’Malley, to discuss the road safety challenge in the country.
In Abuja, Nigeria, the UN Special Envoy met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and gave a keynote address at the Federal Road Safety Corp’s Annual Lecture. With an estimated 35,000 road traffic deaths each year, rapid urbanisation and a fast growing youth population, Nigeria is on the frontline of the global epidemic. Jean Todt discussed the situation with Edward Callon, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, and his team, as well as holding meetings with the Federal Road Safety Corps. A newly adopted Nigerian Road Safety Strategy aims for a 35% reduction of road traffic fatalities by 2018 and 50% reduction by 2020, but is unlikely to be achieved without a significant increase in government resources and commitment, and official recognition of the true scale of road traffic casualties in the country.