United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

A Safe & Sustainable Post-2015 Development Agenda

Bright Oywaya, Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya. Presentation to the 7th Session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
I submit this input to the Open Working Group as a citizen of Kenya, as an African woman living with a disability, and as a person standing up for the rights of the vulnerable across low and middle income countries:
1) For my country and other middle and low income countries, the current unplanned expansion of motorised transportation threatens to place millions of vulnerable people at risk.
2) It exacerbates poverty and undermines equitable development. Alongside the human costs, the health and economic burdens posed by this unplanned expansion are unsustainable.
3) Young, economically active sections of the population are being severely affected. In Kenya, road traffic injury is a leading health burden for young people in their 20s according to the recent Lancet Global Burden of Disease research. Road traffic injury is also placing health systems under intolerable strain. I work in hospitals in Kenya where the majority of trauma admissions are from road traffic injury. This pattern is being repeated across middle and low income countries which account for the vast majority - 90% - of the total number of road fatalities.
4) Targets within the Post-2015 Goals
Transportation is of course central for development and economic growth. However, for equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth, transportation can and must be made clean, safe, affordable and reliable. This can be achieved by integrating clear and focused targets into the post-2015 Goals.
For example: a global target to reduce road traffic fatalities by 50% by 2030 would save millions of lives, particularly among the young economically active sections of the population that are so badly affected. It would alleviate both the pressure on overstretched health services, and the burden on millions of families suffering the long term effects of road injury.
While transport is a key driver for poverty reduction, in many low and middle income countries, affordable mass transit systems are absent, forcing people to pay a relatively large share of their income – 25% for the poorest urban households – on transport, or restricting access to economic opportunities, services, education and health.
Integrated urban transport systems linking walking, cycling and mass public transit should be made affordable so that they provide maximum access – especially to the poor and vulnerable groups like children and people with a disability. Moreover, the lack of safe and affordable transport restricts the mobility of women and prevents their full participation in the economy and other activities. Sustainable transport that is accessible to all -including women-can promote equity.
A proposed mass transit SDG target could double the number of urban citizens that have access to integrated mass transit systems by 2030. This can be achieved by supporting the up-scaling of mass transit systems, using innovative financing models.
One model initiative is ‘Share the Road’ which aims to catalyse policies in governments and donor agencies for systematic investment in walking and cycling road infrastructure, linked to public transport.
For low and middle income countries the majority of the population have to walk to access jobs, education and services. However, according to the International Road Assessment Programme, 84% of roads in low and middle-income countries with speeds above 40kph where pedestrians are present surveyed by iRAP have no pedestrian sidewalks.
With initiatives like Share the Road, the objective is to create road infrastructure which prioritises the needs of the vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists, children and poorer sections of the population who are actually the majority of road users.
This is an approach which prioritises safety and sustainability, providing cross-cutting benefits: for health tackling road injury, obesity and non-communicable diseases; for the environment promoting non-motorised and public transport to tackle congestion and emissions; and for access to employment and services.
Pilot projects have already begun in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African countries.
For example, in Nairobi safe cycling and walking provisions have been added to a 1.7km stretch of UN Avenue; while in Kampala plans for segregated cycle lanes and pedestrian facilities link in with public transport plans.
Initiatives such as this could be scaled up to help achieve SDG targets on equitable mass transit and on road traffic injury prevention.
5) We have the knowledge, the data and the solutions to ensure that transportation can serve as a powerful enabler of the post-2015 objectives – to eradicate poverty, to ensure equitable growth and people-centred development. Clear, compelling targets as I have outlined and as in the overarching ‘Safe, Clean, Fair and Green,’ agenda presented this morning, can and must be integrated into the post-2015 Goals. Millions of lives and livelihoods depend upon it, as does the future of my country and other developing nations.