UN Road Safety Trust Fund meets to prepare for action

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The first meetings of the UN Fund brought together member states, UN agencies, donors and NGOs (photo courtesy UNECE).
The first meetings of the UN Fund brought together member states, UN agencies, donors and NGOs (photo courtesy UNECE).

The first operational meetings of the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund have been held at the United Nations in Geneva, with the FIA Foundation taking a seat on the Fund’s two decision-making boards.

The Trust Fund aims to catalyse efforts to address the global road traffic injury epidemic, which kills and maims millions of people every year, by securing new sources of international funding, mobilising country-level resources and ensuring effective coordination of action at all levels. The first meetings, of the Advisory Board and the Steering Committee, held on 9th and 10th August in Geneva, discussed the governance structures for the Fund, a strategic operational framework and a fundraising strategy.

Representatives from five Member States representing each of the United Nations Regions – Argentina, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russia, Sweden – have been appointed to the Fund’s Advisory Board, alongside UN, private sector donor, civil society and academic partners, enshrining the Fund’s broad partnership-based approach to improving road safety.

A Global Framework Plan of Action for Road Safety was introduced as a basis for funding criteria and priorities for Trust Fund activities. The Framework adopts the “safe system” approach, integrating the Decade of Action for Road Safety’s Pillars of safe users; safe vehicles; safe roads; and effective post-crash response, together with good management across these areas, as well as the United Nations global voluntary targets for road safety.

This framework aims to guide the Trust Fund’s activities to assist low-and middle-income countries in developing and addressing key gaps in national road safety capacity. Through this approach, government efforts would be bolstered by international support to achieve results on the ground – including for countries’ accession to and application of the provisions of the UN road safety conventions and coordinated actions among United Nations agencies.

Participating in the Advisory Board’s first meeting, Nigerian Transport Minister Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi welcomed the Global Framework Plan of Action for Road Safety: “In Nigeria, we are working hard to improve the road safety situation, but major challenges remain to reduce its death toll and heavy economic burden, which stands at approximately 3% of GDP. We are confident that through the comprehensive approach introduced today, the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund will help to address critical road safety challenges faced on the ground, in countries like Nigeria.”

With the need to build on this initial momentum to urgently scale-up the resources required for effective action, fundraising was high on the agenda of the Fund’s Advisory Board and Steering Committee which both in principle endorsed a framework for a fundraising strategy and policy to leverage further resources including from the private sector, Member States and innovative financing mechanisms.

The FIA Foundation has pledged $10 million over three years to the new Fund, with the first $3 million already activated. As the current leading private sector donor, the Foundation has taken a seat on both the Advisory Board and the Steering Committee which are charged with guiding the Fund’s strategy, fundraising, and delivery of programmes. Other confirmed donors are Total Corporate Foundation, Pirelli and 3M. Further significant announcements by both private and bilateral donors are expected in the coming months.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt said: “I warmly thank our partners on the road for leading the way with their generous contributions to the UN Road Safety Trust Fund. The commitments made so far are a vital first step in our efforts to address the global road safety situation and symbolize the opportunity we have to garner the support needed to help countries most affected. But much more is needed. I therefore call on all stakeholders, including across relevant industries such as the automotive and insurance industries, to step up to the challenge and play their part in addressing the critical funding gaps”.

“Transforming the global road safety situation, which represents 1.25 million deaths and an estimated economic cost of $1.85 trillion every year, urgently requires the strengthened involvement of a wide range of partners and the enhanced coordination of global efforts”, highlighted UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. “Today, the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund takes a significant step in this direction, bringing key stakeholders around the table and introducing the holistic Global Framework Plan of Action for Road Safety to guide its activities. As the organisation hosting its Secretariat, we look forward to supporting the implementation of the Trust Fund’s actions moving forward”.

The FIA Foundation’s Executive Director, Saul Billingsley, participated in the meetings. “It is great at last to see the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund taking shape, and this historic first meeting has laid strong, inclusive, foundations for action in the coming years”, he said. “There is now much work to do, to hire a top class secretariat, execute the fundraising plan, build relationships across the road safety and development community, and with other multilateral Funds, and to make the compelling arguments for why governments, corporations and foundations should engage with this important strategic fund. The FIA Foundation is proud to be supporting this initiative and stands ready to help in any way we can.”