Wednesday 29 May 2024

UIC at the International Transport Forum (ITF) 2024: A Recap of Key Contributions and Initiatives

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From 21-24 May 2024, the International Transport Forum (ITF) held its annual summit in Leipzig, Germany, bringing together global leaders and experts to discuss the future of transport, under the theme “Greening Transport: Keeping Focus in Times of Crisis". The International Union of Railways (UIC) took part in the summit to highlight the vital role that rail can play in cutting emissions from the transport sector whilst achieving broader sustainability goals, including UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 “Gender Equality” and SDG 15 “Life on Land”. The following paragraphs provide a summary of UIC’s impactful contribution to the summit.

Emphasising the railways’ role in achieving climate goals and how to finance them

UIC was invited to the closed Minister’s Roundtable on Transport and Climate Change, where Francois Davenne, UIC Director General, alongside the Korean Vice Minister of Transport, reinforced the critical role that rail could play in decarbonising transport, and that a significant modal shift to public transport from 33% to 50% needed to occur by 2030. This is in line with the outcomes of the 1st Global Stocktake at COP28, which called for “Accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways”. The key to this modal shift is prioritising funding for public transport infrastructure as highlighted by transport ministers from Colombia and Morocco, as well as recognising rail as a low-emission solution. Countries can take action by being more ambitious and using NDCs as tools to drive long-term policy change, and UIC has developed the “Rail in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) analysis and recommendations” to this end.

Additionally, UIC, in collaboration with the International Road Federation (IRF), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and ORIS Materials Intelligence, hosted a panel discussing how digitalisation can be leveraged to ensure the financing of green and resilient linear transport infrastructure, which explored how digitalisation can increase capacity and attract more customers through infrastructure changes (such as e-ticketing, modern signalling, and telecommunication systems).

At both of these events, UIC advocated for more climate financing and climate credits to be dedicated to modernising and expanding rail to support the modal shift needed in line with the Paris Alignment.

Highlighting nature-based solutions for sustainable transport

2023 was the hottest year on record. Global temperatures in 2024 are likely to exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which is a significant milestone, with extreme weather fronts, droughts, flooding, and wildfires becoming the new normal. In parallel, we are facing a global biodiversity crisis. Therefore, UIC’s Head of Sustainability, Lucie Anderton, presented some case studies on the benefits of integrating nature-based solutions in rail transport infrastructure, including:

  • Natural Flood Management in Leeds, UK
    This initiative protects both railways and urban areas from flooding
  • Living Shoreline in Virginia, US
    Oyster beds are used to protect rail and port areas from erosion
  • Water Management in Austria
    The use of porous stones and marginal vegetation helps balance water flows and filter runoff from the railways

These examples underscore the climate and biodiversity challenges that are impacting transport networks and how a holistic approach to these can provide significant benefits in enhancing resilience, storing carbon, controlling pollution, and improving landscapes.

For more information on UIC’s sustainable land use initiatives, please visit UIC Sustainability ar

Advancing gender equality in transport

In light of the gender equality “Train 2B Equal” opt-in project and the newly launched gender equality sector, the UIC team participated in two events on gender at the ITF Summit:

  • Moving the Agenda Forward: Joining Forces for Gender Equality in Transport and Climate Action
    Jointly organised with UITP and Women Mobilise Women, this session focused on how transport leaders are joining forces to accelerate gender-inclusivity in transport and climate action. Women Mobilise Women launched the Global Alliance for Feminist Transport which seeks to unite feminist transport initiatives across the world for more gender-responsive, sustainable transport systems. Individuals and organisations are invited to subscribe and take part in its future work.
  • Leipzig Rail Station as a Gender-Sensitive Transport Hubs
    Jointly led by UIC, Deutsche Bahn, ITF, and Women Mobilise Women, this session gave a practical examination of the station’s gender-sensitive features. Attendees participated in interactive “gemba walks” to evaluate accessibility, walkability, and security, providing valuable insights for improving the station’s environment for all users. An outcome summary will be prepared highlighting the visit’s findings based on the participants’ feedback.

These collaborative efforts reflect UIC’s commitment to fostering gender-responsive policies and practices in the rail sector that elevate women in the workforce and as passengers. Members interested in joining gender activities at UIC are invited to visit the Train 2B Equal webpage or to contact Joo Hyun Ha at

In addition to the UIC team, other representatives of the rail community were present at the ITF Summit, such as the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (ERJU), European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), as well as railway companies, including Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, FS Italiane and Alstom (with the latter two being members of the ITF Corporate Partnership Board). As rail is increasingly represented at these events, the sector benefits from recognition and influence over international policy discussions on transport. Next year, the ITF Summit will be chaired by Chile, who have the next ITF presidency, under the theme “Enhancing Transport Resilience to Global Shocks".

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