Sustainable Transport Crucial for Development of Countries in Special Situations
The first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan has welcomed the One Belt, One Road initiative of the Chinese government. The conference anchored sustainable transport firmly into the United Nations global sustainable development agenda and has showed that it is a shared global task.
“There is a consensus emerging from the discussion. Simply put, without sustainable transport, there will be no lasting progress on climate action; without sustainable transport, there will be no lasting progress on the Sustainable Development Goals,’’ the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) Wu Hongbo said at the final press conference on the results of the two-day gathering.
The Global Sustainable Transport Conference is the second major UN Conference this year focusing on the issues of sustainable development following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the first since the historic entry into force of the Paris climate agreement in early November 2016.
“We have demonstrated the power of policy and partnerships to advance sustainable transport for all. Sustainable transport solutions are key to leaving no one behind, securing economic prosperity, enabling access to services and protecting the environment. Special consideration is needed for developing countries and, in particular countries in special situations,’’ Under-Secretary-General Wu said. Sustainable transport is crucial to the development of countries in special situations – least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states – which face difficulties linked to transit, inadequate transport infrastructure, missing links, huge infrastructure gaps, limited capacities, traffic-related air pollution and road fatalities.
On the other hand, these countries have an enormous potential for sustainable development. Regional cooperation, international support, and focused investments can connect their populations and economies both domestically and globally the way that the whole world would benefit while leaving no one behind. Mr. Wu stressed the need for integration across road, rail, aviation, ferry and maritime modes, and said these different sectors need to start working together. Concrete actions to move the world towards the new and essential paradigm of sustainable transport were identified collectively as well as individually.
A final compilation of initiatives, voluntary commitments and partnerships will be posted on the Conference website, as will the Ashgabat Statement on Commitments and Policy Recommendations of the Global Sustainable Transport Conference. The two-day Conference was attended by three Heads of State, one Head of Government, 6 Deputy Prime Ministers, 2 Foreign Ministers, 42 Ministers and Vice-Ministers of transport and infrastructure. Some 200 business and civil society representatives, along with representatives of over 20 intergovernmental organizations and the UN entities participated in the event. For its part, Turkmenistan deposited instruments of accession to the international convention on the harmonization of frontier control of goods, the intergovernmental agreement on the Asian highway network, intergovernmental agreement on the trans-Asian railway network and the intergovernmental agreement on dry ports. These conventions and agreement are intended to facilitate transport, which will contribute to the improved well-being of millions of people.
Key Policy Recommendations of the Global Sustainable Transport Conference
All stakeholders need to work together to put in place integrated multi-modal transport and transit systems and corridors to optimize the comparative advantages of each mode of transport and to achieve sustainable transport of passengers and freight within and between countries.
There is need to assist developing countries, in particular African countries, LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, to leapfrog to sustainable transport, including in strengthening policy planning, standard setting and regulatory frameworks.
Conference underlined the commitment to expand the public transport sector, which required a shift that took into account multi-modal transport systems, cooperation among stakeholders and transport authorities, policy integration, digital mobility, capacity building and a redirection of finance.
Participants reaffirmed commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector and to accelerating progress in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Participants acknowledged the decision of the 39th session of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Assembly to implement a global market-based measure to address the increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation above 2020 levels, taking into account special circumstances and respective capabilities of States.
Participants noted that international maritime transport plays an essential role in facilitation of world trade; and that the International Maritime Organization.
Participants reaffirmed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, and underscored the vital role of public finance, both domestic and international, in meeting sustainable transport needs and in catalyzing all sources of finance, including traditional official development assistance, domestic resource mobilization, direct private investment and a wide array of partnership models, including Public-Private partnerships (PPPs).
It was also emphasized that states that have not yet done so should consider acceding to or ratifying United Nations legal instruments relating to transport. Member States and other relevant stakeholders are also encouraged to further strengthen their participation in UN intergovernmental deliberations on sustainable transport, including through specialized platforms convened by the United Nations system.