As the worldwide association for cooperation between - and promotion of - railways, UIC has a strong tradition of working on sustainability issues, both in supporting members in improving their sustainability performance, as well as communicating on sector level towards external key stakeholders in order to support development of sustainable transport systems.
UIC has had consultative status to the United Nations (ECOSOC) since 1949 and has observer status at the UNFCCC. This gives UIC the possibility to actively participate in UN activities and meetings, including the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which is taking place this year in New York from 2 to 13 May.
UIC attended three important sessions of the CSD 19 session at the United Nations on 11May.
The first was the opening of the High-Level Segment of the talks - the time during the negotiations when Ministers from member states meet to agree the final text of the UN agreements. The opening session, held in the General Assembly hall of the UN, featured a welcoming address by Mr Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General of the UN, and keynote speeches from Mr Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner on Environment and Prof Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA.
Mr Sha stressed that "we must accelerate our efforts to advance sustainable development and meet our commitments to future generations.”
Regarding transport, he underlined that transport is vitally important to development. "We must ensure access to affordable transport, especially for the rural poor; expand public and non-motorised transport in cities; and transform transport systems to address climate change, local pollution, energy security and safety”.
The second session was the so-called “Dialogue Session”; an opportunity for member states, UN officials, and stakeholders to have an open debate about key sustainable development challenges. The UIC, as part of the Business & Industry stakeholder group, ensured that industry stakeholders called for public transport to be prioritised as a solution to traffic congestion.
Finally, UIC attended the high-level Ministerial Round-Table session that closed the CSD session. This featured high-level speakers from UN agencies (such as UNEP, UN HABITAT and UN ECE) and many other stakeholders. A final agreement was also reached during this session on key sustainable development issues, including transportation.