The 13th UIC Sustainability conference will be held in Vienna in partnership with OBB from 12 to 14 October 2016 – Save the Date!
Much has happened in the four years since the worldwide railway sustainability community gathered in Venice for the last UIC Sustainability Conference.
In many ways 2015 was a defining year for sustainable development due to two landmark international agreements: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goals) & the COP21 Climate Change Accord. In 2016 the attention of the world’s governments and civil society will shift to the implantation and realisation of these agreements. Whilst transport is an accepted enabler of economic growth, the role of sustainable transport is gaining recognition as an enabler of sustainable development. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-moon’s Five Year Action Agenda specifically includes transport as one of the six building blocks for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. This was followed up by a message from UN Secretary General to the UIC General Assembly of July 2015 concerning the major role of railways to build a low carbon future.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, comprising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) sets out the framework for development policy and investments agreed by all member States of the United Nations. Sustainable transport can be viewed as an enabler for all 17 of the SGDs. However, there are a sub-group of targets that offer the railways a good opportunity to demonstrate to national governments how they can make a substantive contribution, for example; energy efficiency (Goal 7), resilient infrastructure (Goal 9) and access to sustainable transport (Goal 11), resilience to climate-related hazards (Goal 13), promote environmentally sound technologies & multi-stakeholder partnerships (Goal 17). Together, these goals cover main dimensions of sustainability relating to railways, such as energy efficiency, adaptation to climate change, sustainable mobility and stakeholder integration.
The Climate Change COP21 negotiations successfully concluded at the end of 2016. Notably an increased level of ambition (1.5 degrees) was included in the final outcome. Rail companies have an opportunity to demonstrate how increasing rail market share can help to reduce transport emissions and through this help to achieve the governmental commitments set out in the ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) and also support greater ambition for the 5 year revision of the NDC. In this frame, the UIC campaign ‘Train To Paris’ successfully showed the rail sector commitment and the major role as an alternative solution to climate change in the transport sector.
At the European level the rail sector must respond to the EU Transport Paper White mid-term review & implementation report. Effective steps are needed to turn the ambitious objectives into reality, including modal shift / emissions targets and internalisation of external costs. Rail freight noise remains a politically sensitive issue. Energy & CO2 have a high profile following COP21 and a growing recognition of the need to break the EU dependence on imported fossil fuels. This is reflected by recent developments in the EU ETS, renewable energy directive and proposed energy union. The conference will highlight how modal shift to rail has a key role in reducing both transport carbon emissions and the dependency on imported oil.
In addition to the global issues the conference will consider sustainability from the railway practitioners’ point of view, with deeper dives into energy management, sustainability reporting for the rail sector, and climate change adaptation, amongst other issues.
Further details regarding the conference will be announced in the coming months.