The role of transport in sustainable development was first recognized at the 1992 United Nation’s Earth Summit and reinforced in its outcome document – Agenda 21. In undertaking the five-year review of the implementation of Agenda 21 during its nineteenth Special Session in 1997, the UN General Assembly further noted that, over the next twenty years, transportation would be expected to be the major driving force behind a growing world demand for energy (Indeed, it is now the largest end-use of energy in developed countries and the fastest growing one in most developing countries). Further, at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the role of transport was once again captured in the outcome document - the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). JPOI provided multiple anchor points for sustainable transport, in the context of infrastructure, public transport systems, goods delivery networks, affordability, efficiency and convenience of transportation, as well as improving urban air quality and health, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The global attention to transport has continued in recent years. World leaders recognized unanimously at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) that transportation and mobility are central to sustainable development. Sustainable transportation can enhance economic growth and improve accessibility. Sustainable transport achieves better integration of the economy while respecting the environment. improving social equity, health, resilience of cities, urban-rural linkages and productivity of rural areas
Subsequently, the UN Secretary-General, as part of his Five-Year Action Agenda, identified transport as a major component of sustainable development. To this end, the Secretary General established and launched in August 2014 a High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport (HLAG-ST), representing all modes of transport including road, rail, aviation, marine, ferry, and urban public transport providers. The policy recommendations of the Advisory Group were submitted to the Secretary-General in a global sustainable transport outlook report, entitled "Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development", released at the first Global Sustainable Transport Conference in November 2016.
The importance of sustainable transport for countries in special situations is also recognized by the international community, through the Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs, the Vienna Programme of Action for the LLDCs, the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda.
In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, sustainable transport is mainstreamed across several SDGs and targets, especially those related to food security, health, energy, economic growth, infrastructure, and cities and human settlements. The importance of transport for climate action is further recognized under the UNFCCC - the transport sector will be playing a particularly important role in the achievement of the Paris Agreement, given the fact close to a quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions come from transport and that these emissions are projected to grow substantially in the years to come.
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January 2015 Target 11.2 & 3.6Target 11.2 aims by 2030 at providing access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons. Target 3.6 aims by 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.
The High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport was established in 2014 by the UN SG Mr Ban Ki-moon. This body has been responsible for formulating recommendations on sustainable development transport actionable at global, national, local and sector levels. Core tasks of the Advisory Group have been identified in the integration of sustainable transports in relevant intergovernmental process, the mobilization of actions and initiatives to support sustainable transport with key stakeholders, the launch of a "Global Transport Outlook Report" and the formulation of recommendations on this particular area.
January 2012 Future We Want (Para 132 -133)At Rio +20, Member States highlighted the central role that transportation and mobility have in ensuring sustainable development. In particular, paragraph 132 reads "Sustainable transportation can enhance economic growth and improve accessibility. Sustainable transport achieves better integration of the economy while respecting the environment". The same paragraph identifies the importance of the "efficient movement of people and goods, and access to environmentally sound, safe and affordable transportation as a means to improve social equity, health, resilience of cities, urban-rural linkages and productivity of rural areas". Member States also commit to "take into account road safety as part of our efforts to achieve sustainable development". In paragraph 133, Member States express their support to "the development of sustainable transport systems, including energy efficient multi-modal transport systems, notably public mass transportation systems, clean fuels and vehicles, as well as improved transportation systems in rural areas". Member States also take into account the special development needs of landlocked and transit developing countries as well as their need for international support to developing countries in this regard.
January 2005 Kyoto Protocol (Art. 2 A, Art.10 and Annex A)The Kyoto Protocol recalls the need to measure the limit and/or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol in the transport sector and urges to limitate and/or reduce methane emissions through recovery and use in waste management, as well as in the production, transport and distribution of energy.
January 2002 JPOI (Chapters 2, 3, 4)The JPOI aims to "Promote an integrated approach to policy -making at the national, regional and local levels for transport services and systems to promote sustainable development, including policies and planning for land use, infrastructure, public transport systems and goods delivery networks, with a view to providing safe, affordable and efficient transportation, increasing energy efficiency, reducing pollution, congestion and adverse health effects and limiting urban sprawl, taking into account national priorities and circumstances".
January 2001 CSD-9 (Chap. 1B, Decision 9.3)As far as CSD-9 was concerned, the economic, sectoral and cross-sectoral themes considered, as determined at UNGASS, were as follows: energy and transport, atmosphere and energy, and information for decision-making and participation and international cooperation for an enabling environment. From CSD-6 to CSD-9, discussions at each session commenced with multi-stakeholder dialogues, consisting of opening statements from representatives of major groups on selected themes, followed by a dialogue with government representatives.
January 1997 GA 19th Special Session. Sustainable TransportIn undertaking the five-year review of the implementation of Agenda 21 during its nineteenth Special Session in 1997, the General Assembly noted that, over the next twenty years, transportation is expected to be the major driving force behind a growing world demand for energy. It is the largest end-use of energy in developed countries and the fastest growing one in most developing countries.
January 1992 Agenda 21 (Chap. 7 and 9)The role of transport in sustainable development was first recognized at the 1992 United Nation’s Earth Summit and reinforced in its outcome document – the Agenda 21. Several chapters, as for example Chapter 9 on Atmosphere and Chapter 7 on Human Settlements recognize Transport as a key development issue.