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Greener, more efficient and sustainable transport can save trillions, report shows

greener-more-efficient-and-sustainable-transport-can-save-trillions-report-showsGreater investment in greener, more sustainable transport systems is essential for propelling the economic and social development that is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to an expert panel report delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today. Finding that global, national and local transport systems are hobbled by inefficiencies and a lack of sustainable investments, the expert panel issued a report entitled “Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development”, which provides 10 recommendations on how governments, businesses and civil society should re-direct resources in the transport sector to advance sustainable development. The experts, members of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport, include representatives from aviation, road, rail, public transport and maritime industries and associations. The recommendations address issues of policy, technology and financing and grew out of the diverse perspectives and practical experience of the panel. The report found that a transformational change to sustainable transport can be realised through annual investments of around US$2 trillion, similar to the current ‘business as usual’ spending of US$1.4 trillion to US$2.1 trillion. 

Investments in sustainable transport, the experts found, could lead to fuel savings and lower operational costs, decreased congestion and reduced air pollution. Additionally, it is estimated that efforts to promote sustainable transport can deliver savings of up to US$70 trillion by 2050. A move to sustainable freight and passenger transport that includes integrated port terminals, well-planned airports and harmonized standards and regulations for efficient border crossings, could produce a global GDP increase by US$2.6 trillion.

Writing in the report’s foreword, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that sustainable transport was essential to efforts to fight climate change, reduce air pollution and improve road safety.“Sustainable transport supports inclusive growth, job creation, poverty reduction, access to markets, the empowerment of women, and the well-being of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. ”Focusing on important issues such as road safety, traffic congestion and climate impacts, the expert panel’s 10 specific actions include the establishment of monitoring and evaluation frameworks, the promotion of sustainable transport technologies and the increase of international development funding. The report calls for robust engagement by all stakeholders to ensure all members of society have access to jobs, markets, education and health care, through sustainable transport. At present, the transport sector is responsible for approximately 23 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and 3.5 million premature deaths result from outdoor air pollution annually, mostly in low and middle income countries. 

On 8 August 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed members of a High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport to provide recommendations on sustainable transport actionable at global, national, local and sector levels. The Advisory Group, established for a period of three years, will work with Governments, transport providers (aviation, marine, ferry, rail, road, and urban public transport), businesses, financial institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to promote sustainable transport systems and their integration into development strategies and policies, including in climate action.

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