Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to join you in launching the publication entitled “Review of Transport Developments in Asia and the Pacific.”
As we are all aware, how human mobilities are viewed have undergone profound changes over the past two years.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments-imposed measures that were designed to discourage people from travelling. While this helped contain the virus and safeguard their health, it also led to an unprecedented drop in passenger levels.
At the same time, the Asia-Pacific region also witnessed many climate-related disasters. It is now widely accepted that climate change is driven by greenhouse gas emissions and that urban transport is a major contributor.
Following the COP26 meetings in Glasgow, the question of how to decarbonize urban passenger transport and make it more sustainable has moved centre stage on the climate change agenda.
In this regard, I am pleased to present the 2021 Review of Developments in Transport in Asia and the Pacific.
This year’s Review argues that in order to achieve more sustainable urban transport systems, policies need to integrate the three key elements of environmental sustainability, social inclusiveness and resilience.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Cities in Asia and Pacific region are some of the most dynamic in the world. However, economic development and population growth have led to rapid motorization and sprawl, which in turn have resulted in rising greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and congestion.
As we learned from the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) reported under the Paris Agreement, many governments are taking concrete action to address these issues.
However, these measures are not ambitious enough if we want to halt global warming and address other negative externalities to the environment. In this regard, the Review highlights those policies for environmentally sustainable transport.
The Review also presents the results of a modeling exercise on future scenarios, which found that energy efficiency and electric vehicle scenarios had the most significant impact on reducing emissions.
Another key element is social inclusiveness. The diversity of transport modes in Asian cities can be seen as an organic response to the varying needs of different groups.
Policymakers need to design inclusive transport systems which meet everyone’s needs, ensuring that low-income groups, women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly, can fulfill their daily activities. Such systems must also be designed to minimize traffic accidents, which continue to rise in our cities.
The Review also assesses the impacts of COVID-19 on urban passenger transport.
As they reflect on ways to “build back better,” countries and cities need to prioritize the resilience of transport systems and use the power of new technologies, such as smart technologies, electric mobility and intelligent transport systems.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Crises such as COVID-19 and climate change underscore the need to think beyond the transport sector and strengthen linkages to other sectors, including health, social welfare, energy, environmental protection and security.
Ultimately, sustainable transport policies need to integrate the elements of environmental sustainability, social inclusiveness and resilience.
As noted in the Review, governments should utilize regional fora such as ESCAP to share experiences and knowledge about effective policies for sustainable urban passenger transport.
Let us visualize and work towards urban transport systems that best meet the needs of the planet and its people, not only for this generation but also for future generation.
I hope that policymakers and practitioners in transport and urban planning will find this publication useful.
Finally, I would like to express our appreciation to the contributors and reviewers of the publication as well as our colleagues from Transport Division.
Thank you very much.
Now, I would like to invite Mr. Chayatan Phromsorn, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport of Thailand to join me in launching the publication.