UN forges policy options for sustainable transport development

UN Photo/ Kibae Park
UN Photo/ Kibae Park

Senior transport policymakers and government representatives from over 20 Asia-Pacific member States ended two days of United Nations-led talks in Incheon yesterday, regarding policy options for sustainable transport development in the region.

The ‘Expert Group Meeting on Policy Options for Sustainable Transport Development’ was organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (ESCAP) Transport Division and East and North-East Asia (ENEA) Office, in partnership with the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI) and Korea Transport Institutes (KOTI).

A clear message from the meeting was that the status quo on transport development was not an option and countries and cities need to choose a more viable path for developing sustainable transport systems.

“Many governments and cities of the region are already taking various initiatives to enhance the sustainability of transportation systems. Such systems include modal shifts, such as from road to rail,” said Director of ESCAP’s Transport Division, Mr. Dong-Woo Ha. “But more needs to be done.”

Dr. Gyeng-Chul Kim, President of the Korean Transport Institute added: “There needs to be transformative change on how transport systems are planned to reduce the effect on climate change.”

Other key recommendations from the forum included the crucial need for countries and cities to follow a course for developing sustainable transport systems through improving public transportation, integrating transport planning, reducing urban congestion, integrating transport modes, promoting walking and cycling, using appropriate technology, enhancing the sustainability of the maritime sector, policy coordination and institutional capacity building.

Mr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Director, ESCAP-ENEA Office also highlighted the importance of sustainable transport in the context of resource and energy efficiency and various on-going initiatives for low carbon cities in the North-East Asian subregion.

The meeting was held in response to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which recognized that transport and mobility are central to sustainable development and underscored United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s declaration that transport is a core priority if sustainable development is to be achieved.

Urban transport, non-motorized transport, green ports, inland waterways and maritime transport were also among the issues discussed, along with institutional and policy coordination at national and city levels.