HC 172 Outcomes of the UN Rio +20 Earth Summit
Written evidence submitted by the FIA Foundation
· Rio+20 was a potential breakthrough moment for safe and sustainable transport. The Outcome Document ‘The Future We Want’ notes that "transportation and mobility are central to sustainable development" and calls for "…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…". Long neglected at international summits, sustainable transport is now coming of age as policymakers recognise its critical role in ensuring wider development goals.
· The importance of tackling road traffic injuries – which kill and maim millions of people every year – was also recognised in the Outcome Document. This was the first time that road safety has been included in a global sustainable development summit communique;
· The largest single Commitment made at Rio+20, by the seven multilateral development banks, was a pledge of US$175 billion to "help to develop more sustainable transport systems" in developing countries over the next decade. As the UK is one of the largest donors to the MDBs, DfID support for this objective, and close scrutiny of delivery of the Commitment, is essential;
· Rio+20 agreed to move towards new ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ as a possible post-2015 framework for delivering the international community’s development objectives. Working groups, including one co-chaired by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, are now preparing recommendations for the post-2015 world.
· A Sustainable Development Goal for Safe and Sustainable Transport must be an outcome of the Rio+20 process and the subsequent reviews. Incorporating road safety (including the goal for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 already approved by the UN General Assembly); efforts to improve fuel efficiency of vehicles, and fuel quality; and measures to encourage non-motorised transport, an SDG for Safe and Sustainable Transport can play an important role in improving public health, protecting local environments and tackling climate change.
1. The FIA Foundation is a UK registered charity and global philanthropy working in the fields of road safety and sustainable mobility. The Foundation provides the secretariat for both the Commission for Global Road Safety and the Global Fuel Efficiency Initiative, and is a leading NGO member of the UN Road Safety Collaboration, the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles and the Partnership for Sustainable Low Carbon Transport.
2. Rio+20 was a potential breakthrough moment for safe and sustainable transport. Transport had been largely neglected as an issue at the original 1992 Earth Summit, and again in Johannesburg in 2002, and was not included as a goal or recognised as a significant issue in the Millennium Development Goals. However, at Rio+20 the Outcome Document ‘The Future We Want’ notes that "transportation and mobility are central to sustainable development" and calls for "…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…". Long neglected at international summits, sustainable transport is now coming of age as policymakers recognise its critical role in ensuring wider development goals.
3. The importance of tackling road traffic injuries – which kill and maim millions of people every year, particularly in middle and low income countries with rapidly increasing levels of road traffic – was also recognised in the Outcome Document. Rio+20 was the first time that road safety has been included in a global sustainable development summit communique. According to the World Health Organization road crashes kill an estimated 1.3 million people each year and injure between 20 - 50 million more. The vast majority – more than ninety per cent - of these casualties are occurring in middle-income and low-income countries where road safety awareness and the capacity to tackle the problem is low, and where both traffic levels and road casualties are rising rapidly (Global Status Report on Road Safety, WHO, 2009).
4. Despite the absence, until now, of road safety from the mainstream sustainable development agenda there is a global mandate for action to reduce global road traffic injuries. UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/255 has established the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 with a goal to ‘stabilise and reduce’ road deaths by 2020. The UK was one of the 100 countries which co-sponsored the resolution. Participating in the launch of the Decade of Action, in May 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron described the Decade of Action as "a vital opportunity to implement the policies that can make road traffic safer and more sustainable and protect future generations".
5. In its Resolution proclaiming the Decade of Action for Road Safety, the United Nations General Assembly described road traffic injuries as a "major public health problem with a broad range of social and economic consequences which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress towards the Millennium Development Goals". According to leading development experts and international agencies, the impacts of failure to address road safety can go beyond the immediate toll of death and disability to undermine policies on poverty alleviation, child survival and development, and climate change.
6. For example, the Special Adviser to the United Nations on the Millennium Development Goals, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, has recently described road crashes as "a crucial part of the overall effort" to improve the environment and quality of life in developing countries (Make Roads Safe, 2011). Dr Kevin Watkins, of Brookings Institution, a former development adviser to Oxfam, the UN Development Programme and UNESCO, estimates that, based on a simple calculation of the relationship between GDP growth and poverty reduction, the economic costs associated with road traffic crashes (at least US$100 billion a year in for developing countries) are keeping between 12 – 72 million people in poverty. Dr Watkins describes road crashes as ‘holding back progress towards the international development targets on a global scale’, citing the impact of road injuries on children – 260,000 of whom are killed and at least 1 million seriously injured each year - and the burden on health services of dealing with road traffic injuries as having a serious impact on delivery of MDG goals 2, for universal primary education, and 4, 5 & , covering child and maternal mortality and public health (The Missing Link: Road Traffic Injuries & the Millennium Development Goals, Watkins, K; 2010).
7. Road safety is one part of a wider sustainable mobility agenda vital for environmental protection and efforts to tackle climate change. In urban areas managing vehicle speed to provide safe and accessible streets for non-motorised transport users, combined with road design measures that protect and encourage walking and cycling (such as pavements, safe crossing points and bicycle lanes), will both reduce casualties amongst ‘vulnerable road users’ and support greener modes of transport, reducing modal shift to motorised vehicles. Dr Watkins, the author of the 2008 ‘Human Development Report’ on climate change for the UNDP, also highlights that transport policy "can play a central role in combating climate change not just by creating fuel-efficiency incentives and supporting the development of low carbon fuels, but also by supporting the development of safe public transport and creating the conditions for safe non-motorised transport. When safe sidewalks and cycle lanes are available, people are far more likely to undertake trips by walking or cycling", (The Missing Link: Road Traffic Injuries & the Millennium Development Goals, Watkins, K; 2010).
8. The UN Environment Programme is also urging a change in emphasis in transport planning in developing nations to support and protect non-motorised mobility and to encourage safe and affordable public transport (low income families in developing countries can currently spend up to 25% of their income on public transport), citing the benefits for a range of environmental objectives. UNEP points out that "cities with a better modal mix between cars, public transport, walking and cycling have lower energy use per capita. By incorporating non-motorised transport facilities in the transport grid, a large, lasting impact can be made on fuel use, congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions". Furthermore, UNEP argues that "designating road space for pedestrians and cyclists in proportion to the demand for non-motorised transport is crucial. It is also one of the most cost-effective actions for saving hundreds of thousands of lives. For example, the top two countermeasures for improving safety in Nairobi, Kenya, recommended by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) are pedestrian crossings and sidewalks", (‘Share the Road: Invest in Walking & Cycling’, UN Environment Programme and FIA Foundation, 2011).
9. Despite the projections of significant increases in car use – with global vehicle ownership doubling in the next ten years, entirely in developing countries - the majority of people in low-income countries or in the significant low-income segments of the population in middle-income countries are unlikely to ever own a car. Yet it is these people who are overwhelmingly affected by road traffic crashes and other consequences of road traffic, including poor air quality (which is estimated by the World Health Organization to contribute to up to 1.3 million deaths a year). Designing safe transportation, urban planning and land use policies that meet the commuting, social and healthcare needs of this ‘green majority’ is a pre-requisite for building the ‘green economy’ of the future and for achieving social justice.
10. It is significant, therefore, that the largest single Voluntary Commitment made at Rio+20, by the seven multilateral development banks, was a pledge of US$175 billion to "help to develop more sustainable transport systems" in middle and low income countries over the next decade. This represents an important policy shift by the development banks, and as the UK is one of the largest donors to the MDBs, DfID support for this objective, and close scrutiny of delivery of the Commitment, is essential to its success. In their Joint Statement the MDBs urged inclusion of sustainable transport as a priority: "We call upon the international community to adopt sustainable transport as a priority sectoral focus within the new global agenda for sustainable development to be drawn up at Rio+20. We also propose that at least one of the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be formulated should be for sustainable transport". (Joint Statement to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development by the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and World Bank , June 2012 ).
11. The Rio+20 Conference agreed to design new ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ as a possible post-2015 framework for delivering the international community’s development objectives. Working groups, including one co-chaired by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, are now preparing recommendations for a post-2015 international development framework.
12. A Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Safe and Sustainable Transport must be one outcome of the Rio+20 process and the subsequent reviews. An SDG should promote road safety, through the framework of the current UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020; efforts to improve fuel efficiency of vehicles, such as the Global Fuel Efficiency Initiative led by UNEP, the International Energy Agency, the International Transport Forum and the FIA Foundation; efforts to improve air quality through investing in cleaner fuels and promoting cleaner technologies, for example through the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles; and measures to encourage non-motorised transport, such as the UNEP-led Share the Road initiative and the work of the Partnership for Sustainable Low Carbon Transport. All of these initiatives, which develop knowledge and capacity within governments and foster public/private partnerships, would benefit from the increased visibility and political commitment that an SDG would provide.
13. An SDG for Safe and Sustainable Transport can play an important role in improving public health, protecting local environments and tackling climate change. We would therefore urge your Committee to encourage the UK Government to support a Safe and Sustainable Transport SDG as a lasting and positive legacy of the Rio+20 Conference designed to meet one of the major challenges of the 21st Century.
29 August 2012