Sustainable urban transport solutions
Saturday, 26 November, 4:30 – 6:00 P.M.
Lead entity: UN-‐Habitat
By 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to have grown by 2.5 billion people, reaching 66% of the total global population. Currently, in much of the world, urban growth is poorly planned or managed, and the result is often sprawl and inadequate transport and infrastructure. ‘Informal’ transport options—unregulated private operators running small-‐ to medium-‐capacity low performance vehicles such as collective taxis and mini-‐buses—often fill the gaps, but on their own they cannot meet the needs of all people. Formal and informal transport both contribute to a host of challenges in cities, in terms of safety, personal security, congestion and pollution, disproportionately affecting the poor and the vulnerable. Transport accounts for nearly a quarter of total energy-‐related CO2 emissions which are increasing at a rate faster than any other sector and thus is a major cause of global temperature increase . However, increasing mobility and connectivity also provides the essential means by which a city can function effectively.
Air pollution has emerged as the single largest environmental health risk causing more than 7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012; predominantly, 88 per cent of these deaths were in low and middle--‐income countries. Transport also contributes to soil and water pollution. Simultaneously, traffic congestion, not only increases local air pollution but also causes heavy economic losses due to time and fuel wastage and increased emissions. Annually, 1.24 million people are killed in road traffic accidents which occur predominantly (92 per cent) in low and middle income countries with young adults the majority of victims.
The growth of motorization is a worldwide phenomenon. In 2010 there were 1 billion motor vehicles worldwide (excluding two wheelers). By 2035, the number of light duty motor vehicles are expected to reach 1.6 billion and by 2050 this number will exceed 2.1 billion. Some countries, notably in Asia and also in Africa, are seeing a huge increase of motorized two wheelers on their roads. The challenge will be how to provide alternative public transport in order to decrease car--‐only traffic. Paradoxically,non—motorized transport made up about 7 percent of urban trips worldwide and yet investment on non--‐motorised transport to improve facilities for walking and cycling remain low.
The twenty--‐first century city is a city of intense flow of people, material and information with goods transport accounting for 10 to 15 percent of vehicle equivalent kilometres travelled in urban areas. Evidence indicates that a high--‐income city in Europe generates about 300 to 400 truck trips per 1000 people per day and 30 to 50 tons of goods per person per year. Freight movement is largely driven by diesel powered cargo vessels, trucks, and trains. While diesel engines are more energy efficient as compared with petrol, they contribute significantly to GHGs and other short--‐lived climate pollutants particularly black carbon, impacting therefore also on public health. Trucks, rather than cars appear to be driving the growing consumption of oil. Despite the significance of goods transport in the urban environment, it has received relatively less attention from policy makers and planners.
A strong connection among transport and climate was also recognized at the UN Secretary--‐General’s climate summit in September 2014 where four specific initiatives were launched that strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a host of measures, from increasing the number of new bus and metro lines to increasing the number of electric vehicles and introducing car--‐ and bike--‐ sharing.
The New Urban Agenda (NUA) and its vision on mobility also addresses the above issues and arises from the recognition that despite the improvement in the quality of the lives of millions of urban inhabitants including slum and informal settlement dwellers, the persistence of multiple forms of poverty, growing inequalities and environmental degradation remain among the major obstacles to sustainable development worldwide. Thus, NUA provides a vision where “cities and human settlements that fulfil their social function including…….equal access for all to public goods and quality services in areas such as food security, health, education, infrastructure, mobility, transportation, energy, air quality and livelihoods“. NUA ushers in a new people--‐based paradigm on mobility. The success of its implementation will depend on commitment at the national and sub--‐ national levels as well as on the effective collaboration with multilateral development banks based on the new paradigm that prioritizes accessibility as the goal of all transport. Capacity building and raising awareness will be increasingly important.
This new vision places mobility in the context of sustainable urbanization and addresses both its dimensions – namely, transport as a means to access goods, services and opportunities and the accessibility to the means of transport itself.
The role of transport in leveraging urbanization for structural transformation is essential because transport is a key enabler of economic activity and social connectivity. It is only if transport and mobility are seen with this perspective, would the futile pursuit of transport for the sake of transport end and the true economic, social and environmental costs of decisions to allocate more and more land for car--‐based travel and for parking become clearer.
The vision of the NUA that cities and human settlements fulfil their territorial functions across administrative boundaries and act as hubs and drivers for balanced sustainable and integrated development at all levels, assumes the existence of well–functioning transport and communication networks. To achieve this potential, cities and national governments need to act together, including through national urban policies and effective implementation at the city level.
The principles and commitments of the (NUA) emphasise environmental sustainability, adoption of healthy lifestyles and promotion of sustainable production and consumption. The idea of sustainable urban mobility (SUM) is indeed built on these principles. With a focus on addressing the demand for travel through compact and mixed land–use planning and the integration between transport and land- ‐use planning, SUM also promotes active or non--‐motorised transport, which has a beneficial impact on health.
Simultaneously, the focus on public transport mitigates the unsustainable, material and energy intensive consumption and production patterns associated with the rise of individual owned car--‐ based travel. SUM also results in optimizing the agglomeration benefits of urbanization --‐ by reducing the time and energy expended on travel and enabling these savings to be used more productively.
The Quito Implementation Plan for the NUA, amongst its commitments recognizes that mobility provides the means of access to basic infrastructure, e.g. safe and convenient access to schools and health facilities. It also addresses the need for safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces including streets, sidewalks and cycling lanes. These commitments can be realized only by engendering a fundamental shift in the approach to urban design, where streets and public spaces are designed with people rather than cars in mind and are not regarded only as spaces for movement purposes.
The notion of smart cities also included in NUA calls for strengthening transport and mobility, technology and communication networks to encourage urban--‐rural interactions and connectivity and encourages use of renewable and affordable energy and sustainable and efficient transport infrastructure and services, thus reducing the financial, environmental and public health costs of inefficient mobility, congestion and air pollution, urban heat island effects and noise. Better and coordinated transport and land--‐use planning should also lead to the reduction of travel needs., while well--‐planned urban freight and logistics will minimize the impact on environment and the live ability of the city.
National urban transport and mobility policies – complemented by appropriate supporting frameworks --‐ can contribute to open and transparent procurement and regulation of transport and mobility services and improved contractual relationships between local governments and service providers. Thus, the efficient, clean and responsible freight movement, known as ‘Green Freight,’ which aims to protect the environment and public health, contributes to energy and cost savings, and supports the vitality of the global economy and communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants is one of essential initiatives that have been undertaken by, for example, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition through its “Global Green Freight Action Plan”, which uses sector assessments, technology pilots, demonstration projects, and training programs to support reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases, lack carbon and air pollutants in the freight sector through a greener and more energy efficient multimodal global supply chain. His and other initiatives show how partnerships are essential for achieving sustainable transport.
Financing sustainable mobility will require a joint effort by different actors ranging from multilateral financial institutions, regional development banks, cooperation agencies, cities, countries and private sector, but it does not require according to researchers increase in infrastructure expenditure, but rather its redirection from business as usual. Thus, specifically in the urban context, according to the New Climate Economy Report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, “more compact and connected urban development, built around mass public transport, can create cities that are economically dynamic and healthier and that have lower emissions.” The study finds that such an approach to urbanization could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than US$3 trillion over the next 15 years. While, looking at a longer time horizon, the International Energy Agency has predicted that shifts to sustainable transport patterns could save US$70 trillion until 2050 in reduced spending on fossil fuels and lower capital investment and operational expenses related to vehicles and road infrastructure. The conclusion is that it really makes good business sense both from public and private sector, which needs enabling environment for investment, to avail themselves of these opportunities.
Possible questions or discussion:
1. What policies need to be put in place in order to improve urban planning for efficient and sustainable public transport that will reduce individual car transportation?
2. What needs to be done to provide for safe and secure urban transport both for people, including vulnerable groups, and responsible “green freight” movement?
3. How can technology be ensured to improve urban transport, but also its link to rural areas thus accomplishing better mobility and ovement both of people and goods?