UITP - International Association of Public Transport

Rio+20 Voluntary Commitments to Create Universal Access to Safe, Clean and Affordable Transport on Track

The implementation of the Voluntary Commitments on Sustainable Transport launched at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, one year ago, is well on track concluded the report “Creating Universal Access to Safe, Clean and Affordable Transport,” presented yesterday at the Berlin High Level Dialogue on Implementing Rio+20 Decisions on Sustainable Cities and Transport.

The 17 Voluntary Commitments launched at Rio+20 include activities on knowledge management, capacity building, policy dialog and facilitation as well as financing. The eight largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) last year pledged to invest US$175 billion to finance more sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade.

“Working on transport is part of this moral responsibility we have especially to the cities of today, but also to future generations,” commented World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, when talking about the World Bank’s role earlier this year at the 10th Annual Transforming Transportation Conference.

The relevance of the Rio+20 Voluntary Commitments and especially the Rio+20 MDB commitment was acknowledged by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his welcome remarks delivered on his behalf at the Berlin meeting: “While financing investments in sustainable transport can be challenging, we have a model in the Rio+20 conference, which saw an unprecedented level of voluntary commitments. The eight largest multilateral development banks jointly committed to invest $175 billion over the next ten years in more sustainable transport in developing countries. I commend their initiative”.

“The world is facing an unprecedented process of motorisation. In the coming ten years we will add more vehicles than in the last 100 years combined”, says David Ward, director general FIA Foundation. “The overall costs of congestion, air pollution, and road crashes are close to 10 percent of GDP in many countries. Road crashes now kill more people than malaria or tuberculosis. These trends are unsustainable and unacceptable”.

The U.N. Secretary General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda called last month to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity. “The Rio+20 Voluntary Commitments can be of great help in improving inclusive access, one of the most important of those building blocks for sustained prosperity”, says Tyrrell Duncan, transport practice leader at the Asian Development Bank and currently the chair of the MDB Working Group on Sustainable Transport. “The MDBs welcome the High Level Panel report and we believe that the MDB Rio+20 commitment can make a real difference in realising the call of the High Level Panel for a transformative change in the manner people travel and goods are transported.”

“The Voluntary Commitments on Sustainable Transport entered into at Rio+20 were a game changer”, concludes Cornie Huizenga, joint convener of the SLoCaT Partnership and principal author of the report. “Without the Rio+20 commitments on sustainable transport it would be much more difficult for transport to become an integral and important part of the post-2015 goal framework. This underscores the strategic relevance of the commitments, which goes well beyond their direct implementation results”.

Six additional voluntary commitments were presented by members of the SLoCaT Partnership as part of the status report. “These new commitments will make it possible for the transport community and other development partners to better observe and track how the sector develops and what the impact of policies and measures will be on the sustainability of the transport sector at the global, national or local level”, says Michael Replogle, managing director for policy and founder of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

UITP’s PTx2 strategy to double the market share of public transport by 2025 was one of the voluntary commitments made at Rio+20 and the report acknowledges the public transport sectors contribution to sustainable development.

Upon the release of the report, Gunnar Heipp, chair of UITP’s Sustainable Development Commission, said “public transport connects people worldwide to education, jobs, services and means social inclusion at its very best. Access and connectivity at affordable prices is the basis of urban life for all. At the same time, only public transport can enable a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the sector at the same time reducing the amount of public space used for transportation. With public transport, cities and metropolitan regions can actively push towards a positive spiral of green growth, mobility for all and a reduction of the negative side effects of those. UITP’s Sustainable Development Commission is the exchange board of experts to co-operate between the world of professionals in public transportation worldwide with numerous other organisations dealing with questions of sustainable urban development and green growth”.