Every October, UN-Habitat and partners organise a month of activities, events and discussions on urban sustainability. This year, Urban October opens with World Habitat Day on 4 October, hosted by Cameroon. The theme for this year’s World Habitat Day is “Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world”.
UIC Director General François Davenne participated as a speaker in the panel devoted to urban climate action through low-carbon planning and mobility. The panel discussion was opened by the Minister of Transport of Cameroon, Mr Jean Ernest Massena, who addressed issues relating to the planning of safe and low-carbon transport at the national level. The session was attended by representatives from ITDP and Paris-Sorbonne University and included an inspirational speech by SLoCaT on COP26 and what needs to happen to redirect transport toward a truly low carbon pathway. Additional speakers included a representatives of the Block by Block Foundation and the Head of Clean Cities at the European Commission.
In his address, Mr Davenne noted the need to find appropriate solutions for the African context. As a representative of rail operators worldwide, UIC provides technical solutions that allow railway networks to connect to their modes of transport under the motto “Open, Share and Connect”. Mr Davenne explained that UIC had developed a vision for 2030 on multimodality, in which rail links seamlessly with other modes and public transport as the backbone of a sustainable mobility system. In the next ten years, infrastructure technology will be developed to will allow transport operators to share information, knowledge and data with other operators, with an emphasis on digitalisation and the capacity to increase data transmission. Mr Davenne further stressed that the “15-minute city” would need to be implemented, and African cities connected to each other, to ensure the success of decarbonisation measures in the long term.
Mr Davenne announced an international symposium, to be held on 30 November–1 December, which will aim to demonstrate that rail is resilient, innovative and prepared for the “new normal” – the new (multi)mobility challenges ahead. Panel discussions will be open to all UIC regions.
Responding to the question, “What do you see as the unique opportunities for railways in and between African cities?”, Mr Davenne stressed the importance of the African Union in defining the roadmap. He noted that African cities had a unique opportunity to begin connecting by rail. In many cases, cities are not all that far away from each other, but links are lacking and the easiest way to connect is often by plane. When connecting cities by rail in the long term, financing should be eligible for carbon offsetting. A practical example of a potential solution can be found in Europe, where many smaller lines have implemented solutions such as lighter trains, which are cheaper to operate. There are many other examples of such developments.
For more information on the UN-Habitat Urban October, please visit https://urbanoctober.unhabitat.org/whd