A new report from an expert UN panel has emphasised the importance of developing sustainable transport solutions, as these could save trillions of dollars as well as helping achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
The study, titled Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development, was drafted by members of secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport and offers ten key recommendations for how governments and businesses can re-direct their resources to focus on sustainability.
It found that undergoing a transformational change to sustainable transport development would cost around $2 trillion a year globally – comparable to current ‘business as usual’ investment levels of between $1.4 trillion and $2.1 trillion. However, it could provide savings of up to $70 trillion by 2020, through fuel savings, reduced congestion, and lower operational costs.
Martin Lundstedt, chief executive of Volvo and co-chair of the High-Level Group, said: “Transport can build prosperity in the broadest sense, enhancing the quality of life for all while protecting the environment and fighting climate change. We need bold innovation and a true partnership among governments, civil society and the private sector.”
The recommendations outlined in the report focus on areas including road safety, traffic congestion and the impact of climate change on the sectors. For instance, it called for the reinforcement of efforts to prevent road traffic injuries and deaths, and also highlighted the need to build the technical capacity for transport planners and implementers.
It also highlighted some of the trends and challenges facing the transport sector in the coming years, such as the growing urbanisation of the world’s population. By 2050, it forecast that two-thirds (66 per cent) of the global population will live in urban environments – an increase of 2.5 billion people from today.
Much of this growth is poorly planned and managed, which leads to sprawling cities that lack adequate transport infrastructure. This will result in many ‘informal’ solutions such as private, unregulated operators using small-capacity vehicles such as minibuses, which will add to congestion and pollution.