Welcome to the United Nations
Urban Transport

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?