UIC participated in the High-Level 14th Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport Forum organised by the United Nations Centre for Regional Development’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals and the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan, in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The theme of the forum was ‘Next-generation transport systems for achieving the SDGs and carbon neutrality – for a safer, affordable, accessible and resilient Asia’.
On 19 October, UIC Director General François Davenne delivered a special address at the opening session of the forum. He noted that rail and public transport are a significant part of the solution for decarbonation if they can succeed in working together to bring about significant modal shift – essentially doubling the modal share of rail and public transport.
“We have ten years to implement the UN strategy: avoid, shift, improve. The ITF Transport Outlook revealed last May that we can expect transport demand to double in the period during which we need to decarbonise. We have to act fast. We believe rail stakeholders should be proactive. The rail sector would, in the short and medium term, need to simultaneously pursue the following four objectives: enhance customer experience, improve rail’s economic equation, increase environmental performance, and improve our resilience.”
Mr Davenne then presented the priorities for the rail sector with a view to designing a better future for 2030. “The priority for our sector is to choose to finance transformational projects for railways at a regional and global level. Transformational projects are those that will have a big impact on efficiency in the short term. Our members have decided to shape the four transformations that rail – in combination with public transport and logistics chain actors – have to achieve by 2030. Multimodality here is crucial, because rail cannot be the only solution.
Seamless interconnectivity, energy and technology innovation, transforming cities and connecting communities, and transforming the customer experience: these are the four components of our narrative for designing a better future. In the face of a changing transport landscape, providing more people with improved access to rail and public transport is indeed the fastest and most cost-efficient way to decarbonise people’s daily mobility. It is ultimately behavioural change that will ensure the success of these measures in the long term.
In conclusion, we collectively have to rethink mobility. In order to do so, the public must understand rail’s value to urban life. We must rediscover the virtue of frugality that rail and public transport are providing in our day-to-day lives: it is frugal in energy consumption, frugal in public space, frugal in terms of life cycle, and frugal because our systems are scalable.”
On 20 October, Lucie Anderton, UIC Head of Sustainability, was invited to take part in session 4 (Accessibility and connectivity – central to achieving the SDGs) as a panelist, and session 5 on ‘Statements by donors, MDBs, UN and international organisations towards implementation of the Aichi 2030 Declaration on EST (2021-2030)’.
Ms Anderson said: “UIC, as the worldwide association for railways, wholeheartedly supports the 2030 Aichi Declaration. UIC shares the vision of a sustainable mobility system in 2030 that must be accessible, safe, clean and low-carbon, as well as offering a great customer experience.
In this decisive decade, we must change the way that we travel. UIC agrees that all the levers must be pulled and all strategies employed across ‘avoid, shift and improve’ as detailed in this declaration.
Public transport and trains are already the greenest and the most equitable form of transport, providing affordable access to mobility as well as creating new green jobs.
The only way we can reverse the emissions growth in transport by the end of this decade is with a huge modal shift from private road vehicles to railways for passenger and freight. Rail market share must grow by 50% and high-speed infrastructure must double by 2030.
We are working with our members across the region to support the improvement of the railways, to keep their edge as the most sustainable form of mass transport. The railways have already started to reduce their emissions and continue to drive energy efficiencies and the transition away from diesel services.
UIC is committed to enabling multi-modal cooperation; all modes must work together to provide a seamless door-to-door mobility service and we need rail and public transport investment, incentivisation and promotion. With this decisive action we can design a better future.”
The forum concluded with the finalisation of the Aichi 2030 Declaration (2021-2030) on ‘Environmentally sustainable transport – making transport in Asia sustainable – sustainable transport goals for achieving universally accessible, safe, affordable, efficient, resilient, clean and low-carbon passenger and freight transport in Asia. The declaration was adopted by the UNCRD Member States.
This represents the aspirations of the Asia-Pacific region in terms of environmentally sustainable transport and will also be presented at the COP26 in Glasgow later this month.