Sustainable transport, poverty eradication, livelihoods and economic recovery
Your Excellency, Mr. Ma Junsheng, General Manager of the State Post Bureau of China,
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I join you today at the Second United Nations World Conference on Sustainable Transport. I am honored to represent the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as co-chair with our host country of this first thematic session.
This is a crucial conference, addressing an issue made even more relevant by the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN Secretary-General has called this conference one of the key moments of this year “to make peace with nature”, which he says is our defining task in the 21st century.
The urgency is clear — we are facing an escalating climate emergency. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is key to keeping global warming below catastrophic levels, and sustainable transport is at the heart of the radical change needed to avoid irreversible damage and disasters.
Transportation accounts for 16% of GHG emissions, making it the third largest contributor after energy (37%) and buildings (17%), mainly due to the predominance of fossil fuels as an energy source in the sector.
A shift to sustainable practices is imperative — sustainable transportation, as defined in the concept note, is critically important if we are to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and have any chance of achieving a sustainable future, inclusive and resilient as planned in the 2030. Agenda.
Why? Because sustainable transport, poverty eradication, livelihoods and economic recovery from the pandemic are inextricably linked.
This will require us to address some key issues and vulnerabilities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic. Numerous studies, including that of the UNDP, have indicated that the pandemic is forcing more than 100 million people back into poverty.
Disruptions to the interlocking transportation systems that move people and goods within and across countries, for example, have severely affected lives and livelihoods, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. The impact on travel and tourism, for example, which comprises a large part of the service economy of many countries and on which many informal livelihoods depend, has resulted in a 50% drop in its share of global GDP. in 2020, at 5.5%, which was 10.4%. in 2019 and accounted for 10.6% of all jobs.
The transport sector alone accounts for more than 60 million jobs worldwide, or more than 2% of global employment.
Disruptions to global supply chains that relied on predictable transport flows also meant deprivation everywhere, worsening conditions for those already in precarious situations. They affect not only the revenues of companies but also of governments. The cities, which were the epicenters of the pandemic and in general the centers of economic activity, and the ports and hubs for the transport of goods and passengers were particularly affected.
To move forward, achieve a green recovery from the pandemic and advance inclusive prosperity for societies and communities within our planetary borders, our efforts must therefore focus on safe, affordable pathways. , accessible, efficient, resilient and low-carbon.
There are many ways to do this. Governments can link their climate commitments to the future development of a sustainable transport sector. In fact, through our Climate Promise initiative, we are helping 120 countries improve their NDCs, over a third of which focus specifically on transport, addressing issues such as sustainable transport planning, electric mobility, increasing the share of renewable energy in electric transport, the development and deployment of clean fuel technologies, including fuel cells, and the intensification of non-motorized modes of transport.
We will need strong partnerships across society, involving governments, public transport operators, energy utilities, private sector companies and citizens, if we are to promote and implement policies solutions, new regulations and technological demonstrations, to enable the scale-up of sustainable transport solutions. . UNDP is proud to be part of the Global Environment Facility’s global electric mobility program that supports developing countries in this critical area.
We also need to harness the power of innovation and digital transformation to advance sustainable transportation and accelerate progress towards 2030. But it’s more than connectivity, electric cars, big data, AI, sensing and GPS. It is also about people’s lives and livelihoods. Informal transport, for example, characterizes many rapidly growing metropolitan areas in developing countries. They provide affordable mobility and jobs, and contribute to local economies and reduce the carbon footprint. How to support workers in this sector, connect innovators to experiment and explore potential solutions and build collective intelligence by sharing what works, what doesn’t? Through our Accelerator Labs network, we use innovation as an effective tool to attract attention and drive change in the informal transport sector.
Indeed, action at the local level is essential to achieve global goals and commitments, including those of the New Urban Agenda. With the urban population expected to grow up to 70% by 2050, future transport demand is expected to increase, posing both challenges and opportunities for our sustainable development goals.
The way we run our cities today and their growth in the future can help us shift to low-emission or zero-emission transportation. Local governments and communities are now exploring the possibility of walking, active transportation and electric mobility, among others, to fight air pollution, improve the quality of life in their cities and improve their quality of life. Our host country itself has approaches that could be instructive for other countries and cities.
Our moderator Ani is a recognized global leader in this area and can speak much more eloquently on these important issues. I look forward to the discussions to come during this session and throughout the Conference. UNDP looks forward to working closely with all stakeholders to advance sustainable transport for sustainable development.