Sustainable mobility: Who's who and who does what?

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Some might call it an existential question. Some may be surprised that the answer is not clear. When it comes to sustainable mobility initiatives and stakeholders, who is who, and who does what? Addressing these questions is a key pre-requisite to the transformation of the transport sector and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The SDGs, the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries, over 100 different organizations and initiatives… It’s enough to make your head spin! As the world increasingly recognizes the importance of mobility to the overall sustainable development agenda, the number of stakeholders in this arena has been growing steadily. Although many established groups have been warning us for years about the role of transport in the fight against climate change—the sector accounts for some 23% of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions—many newer players are now adding their voice to the global conversation.

From public transport agencies to car companies and ride-sharing platforms, clean fuel advocates, maritime transport groups, and electric vehicle proponents, a dizzying array of sector-specific initiatives have emerged over the last few years. Newer city-specific coalitions, such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Compact of Mayors, have played a critical role in relaying these concerns at the local level. However, global initiatives have been the ones that have seen the most impressive growth. Also in the mix are globally minded, from UN entities to smaller NGOS, as well as region-specific organizations such as regional development banks.

What’s the solution to untangling this web of stakeholders? Over the past six months, the World Bank, with support from the World Economic Forum, has mapped out major transport initiatives and organizations as comprehensively and systematically as possible.

Starting in December 2016, we have slowly been decoding the sector by gathering data on various types of organizations and initiatives through a systematic questionnaire. Phase 1 of the exercise covered 40 initiatives. Aside from basic questions about their mission and contact information, our survey called for detailed input on a number of dimensions: what SDGs do you support? What countries and regions do you work on? What kind of data would you need to perform better? We also asked respondents what other organizations they had been partnering with, which allowed us to identify and reach out to an additional 70 stakeholders in Phase 2 of the mapping project.

By November 2017, this information will be consolidated on an interactive online platform that will allow users to search for organizations and initiatives by country, sector, SDGs supported, etc. But the launch of the database will only be the beginning of a continuously-evolving exercise. New organizations will be added on a regular basis, and will be able to submit their information for review and inclusion into the stakeholder map. A report will also be published which collates this information into five dimensions: global, regional, city-specific, sector-specific, and academia.
The global stakeholder mapping will help bring awareness to the various initiatives and further increase the reach and impact of the Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative, a multi-stakeholder partnership that speaks with one voice and acts collectively to help transform the transport sector. The ambition of this initiative is to make mobility equitable, efficient, safe, and green. To make this happen, SuM4All is following a three-pronged approach that includes:


There has never been a better time for advocates of sustainable transport to unite their efforts toward a set of common objectives. Closer coordination will give the sector the leverage it needs to address gaps—in action, coordination, and funding—and to generate the transformational changes required to make sustainable mobility a reality. By bringing some clarity to the sector and promoting meaningful collaboration between all actors, the stakeholder mapping initiative can become the first step on this arduous but incredibly important journey.


Shokraneh Minovi

Partnership Specialist, Transport Global Practice, World Bank

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