In Geneva, UN meetings take steps to advance global road safety agenda

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UN Special Envoy Jean Todt joined WHO Director General Dr Tedros and UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova to strategise for road safety action in the coming year.
UN Special Envoy Jean Todt joined WHO Director General Dr Tedros and UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova to strategise for road safety action in the coming year.
WHO hosted participants of the first planning meeting for the 2020 Stockholm Ministerial Conference.
WHO hosted participants of the first planning meeting for the 2020 Stockholm Ministerial Conference.
Argentina’s road safety director, Carlos Perez, was one of the government representatives at the UN Road Safety Trust Fund meeting.
Argentina’s road safety director, Carlos Perez, was one of the government representatives at the UN Road Safety Trust Fund meeting.
The UN Fund approved an initial package of ‘Safe System’ pilot projects, including action to improve street design for children in South Africa, Paraguay and the Philippines.
The UN Fund approved an initial package of ‘Safe System’ pilot projects, including action to improve street design for children in South Africa, Paraguay and the Philippines.

Important progress has been made in advancing the global road safety agenda, with the new United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund becoming operational and the first planning meeting held for the 2020 Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.

The FIA Foundation was a key participant in a meeting at the World Health Organization on 20th November which began the planning for the forthcoming Global Ministerial Conference, to be hosted by Sweden on 19-20 February 2020. The meeting, led by WHO and Sweden, involved several governments, the World Bank, European Commission, UN-ECE and the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety, as well as the FIA and the FIA Foundation. Under discussion were the themes and objectives for the conference, including a review of the achievements and shortcomings of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and an emphasis on strong alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.

As outcomes, the FIA Foundation urged organisers to strive for an extended or new road safety target for 2030 within the SDGs; for a strong focus on adolescent health, recognising that road traffic injuries are the leading global killer of adolescents, and integration into wider UN efforts to tackle causes of adolescent death; and a post-2020 Action Plan on Speed Management, uniting key donors – including the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund and the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility – and specific pledges from countries to act on this ‘silver bullet’ issue.

On 21-22 November Member States representing each of the United Nations Regions – Argentina, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russian Federation and Sweden – gathered at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva alongside UN, multilateral development banks, private sector representatives, civil society and academic partners for the second meeting of the Advisory Board and Steering Committee of the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund.

Ahead of the meeting European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica announced the EU Commission’s pledge of EUR 900,000 (USD 1.035 million) to the Fund, highlighting road safety as an absolute priority in the EU and worldwide. Michelin also joined the Fund’s donors with USD 1 million support, bringing the amounts pledged to the Fund to approximately USD 17 million to date, including $10 million from the FIA Foundation. The Government of the Russian Federation is finalising consideration of a voluntary contribution to the Fund.

With the need to build on this initial momentum to urgently scale-up the resources required for action, the Fund’s Advisory Board approved the framework for a fundraising strategy and policy to mobilise further resources including from the private sector, Member States and innovative financing mechanisms.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt said: “I warmly thank our partners for their support to the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund announced this week, coming from two actors with a strong commitment to strengthening road safety efforts. I urgently call on all stakeholders to come on board and contribute to the Fund, scaling up the resources so desperately needed to catalyse life-saving action on the world’s roads”.

The Fund’s Global Framework Plan of Action for Road Safety was adopted as a basis for funding criteria and priorities for Trust Fund activities. The Framework adopts the “safe system” principles, integrating and helping build on 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 to achieve the United Nations global voluntary targets for road safety. This Framework will guide the Trust Fund’s activities to assist low-and middle-income countries in developing and addressing key gaps in National Road Safety Systems. Through this approach, National Systems 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.

The Steering Committee also approved the Fund’s first package of pilot projects. These 5 projects, for a total of approximately USD 1 million, address key components of national safety systems:

  • Urban design for safe roads: Two pilot projects were approved, for scaling safe street designs in Ethiopia, led by UN Habitat and ITDP; and capacity development on child responsive urban planning and sustainable urban transport in Paraguay, the Philippines and South Africa, led by UNICEF and implementing its new Handbook on Child Responsive Urban Planning;

  • Speed management to protect vulnerable road users: a pilot project to strengthen speed management in the Philippines, with a particular focus on motorcycle safety, led by UNESCAP and the Global Road Safety Partnership;

  • System strengthening: Two projects led by WHO, to improve road traffic fatality data in Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, linking to the new African Road Safety Observatory; and strengthening legal frameworks for road safety in Arab countries.

“The adoption this week of 5 pilot projects marks the start of the operations of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund”, commented UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. “These projects will address core road safety issues in a variety of low- and middle-income countries, which constitute the target of the Fund. As the host of the secretariat of the Fund, UNECE is proud to see projects adopted just a few months after the launch of the Fund last April. We look forward to working with all partners to support the implementation of these projects to contribute to savings lives.”

The FIA Foundation’s Executive Director, Saul Billingsley, participated in all three days of meetings and said: “Good progress has been made in preparing the UN Road Safety Trust Fund to become fully operational in 2019 and in beginning to shape the agenda for the Stockholm Ministerial in 2020. The two are vitally linked. We must use preparation of the forthcoming Ministerial Conference to bang the drum for government and private sector contributions to the Fund. These need to be significantly scaled up from the current level of pledges, welcome though they are, if we are to achieve the UN’s own goal of a fund capable of strategic interventions, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, that can genuinely move the needle. So all of us with a voice, particularly in the NGO community, need to be uncompromising in demanding action and resources from all who could contribute to defeating this tragic and preventable epidemic.”

For more information, please visit the Fund’s website