Sustainable Mobility for All: Bringing the vision to life

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Photo: Imedagoze/Flickr

Toward an Action Framework
Making sustainable transport a reality requires a coordinated strategy that reflects the contributions and various interests of stakeholders around the world.
The Sustainable Mobility for All partnership has a critical part to play in kickstarting this process. The initiative is working to raise the profile of sustainable mobility in the global development agenda and unite the international community around a vision of transport that is equitable, efficient, safe, and green.
The issue of mobility and sustainability resonates well with countries’ concerns. The recent UN Resolution focusing on the role of transport and transit corridors in sustainable development demonstrates the continuing importance attached to the issue of transport and mobility by national governments around the world.
A series of recent international agreements provide useful benchmarks, including the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, the Rio+20 Outcomes, the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda, the Vienna Programme of Actions on Landlocked Countries, and the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN Global Conference on Sustainable Transport.
To maximize the impact of these efforts, the time has come to bring all these pieces together into a coherent, detailed, and action-oriented strategy.
The SuM4All partnership has set out to develop an Action Framework for Sustainable Mobility that will do just that.
In the current international context, a binding action framework is unlikely to receive the necessary support from the wider international community. A framework based on voluntary compliance would more easily gain support from national governments and seems like the most realistic—and, ultimately, the most constructive first step. In time, this approach would help generate the necessary political will and mutual trust for the international community to move toward a legally binding arrangement.
Strategy of engagement
To start developing an action framework for sustainable mobility, SuM4All is looking to engage actively with all the stakeholders that need to be mobilized:
  1. International and Domestic Policymakers: Developing an international action plan requires the buy-in and participation of decision-makers both at the international and domestic levels—ranging from ministers of transport, foreign affairs, or urban development to prime ministers, presidents, and senior officials. Taking steps to inform the thinking of these policy makers and ensuring that they seek the same goals calls for a sustained, evidence-based dialogue. To achieve this, one key step is to highlight how the inadequacies of the transport sector affect individual countries as well as the global community, and identify possible solutions.

  2. Regional Bodies, including within the United Nations: Some regional organizations and UN regional commissions have shown extensive leadership in developing transport policy, and will have a lot to contribute to a global sustainable mobility framework. As an example, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is the single most important source of transport-related treaties deposited with the UN, and has been a pioneer in setting environmental standards for transport in the European region. The European Union (EU) has also developed considerable experience in the sector. Likewise, the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) has been instrumental in developing transport standards for the region and in negotiating treaties on road and rail transport.
Several regional bodies have recently joined the SuM4All initiative to bring this experience to the table and help reach consensus on how to achieve sustainable mobility. The first draft of our “Roadmap of Actions” will be discussed at the next SuM4All Consortium meeting on May 22, 2018 at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany. This will provide the starting point to engage pro-actively with national governments and tackle a global mobility crisis the world can no longer ignore.


Nancy Vandycke

Program Manager, Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) and Lead Economist, World Bank

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