“Time is running out on our 2030 timetable” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, said the head of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Liu Zhenmin , in the foreword to Sustainable transport, sustainable development.

“Targeted and global effort”

In preparation for the Second Global Conference on Sustainable Transport, which kicks off Thursday in the Chinese capital of Beijing and online, the new report charts the way for an integrated and sustainable approach to making cities safe and resilient, as outlined in SDG 11.

“Two years after the start of the United Nations Decade of Action for the SDGs, we must recognize that accelerated progress is needed simultaneously across multiple goals and targets,” Liu said.

As such, there is a need for a “focused global effort” in areas where there are deep systemic links between the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, he said, describing sustainable transport as “One of those crucial areas”. .

Impacts of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has set back years of progress towards eradicating poverty, ending hunger, empowering women, strengthening education and improving public health.

However, climate change has continued inexorably.

“Global average temperatures in 2020 were 1.2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, approaching dangerously close to the desired limit of 1.5 ° C,” the DESA chief said.

The pandemic also delayed the Transport Conference a year and a half later than originally planned.

The recovery from the pandemic will give everyone the opportunity to rethink passenger and freight transport as well as integrated solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to the report.

To change the mentalities

Since the first Transport Conference, held five years ago in Turkmenistan, the importance of sustainable transport in a world increasingly linked by globalization and digitization has grown in importance. .

“Transport is vital for promoting connectivity, trade, economic growth and jobs. However, it is also blamed as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, ”Mr. Liu recalled.

“Resolving these trade-offs is essential to achieve sustainable transport and, therefore, sustainable development”.

The Sustainable transportation The report argues that, when properly applied, new and emerging technologies are key to solving many pressing challenges by accelerating existing solutions, such as low-carbon vehicles and intelligent transportation systems, and creating new new fuel, electricity and digital infrastructures that mitigate the negative consequences.

Innovations, driven by new technologies, changing consumer preferences and the development of supportive policies, are changing the transport landscape“, Admitted Mr. Liu.

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A moving scene

While science holds enormous potential for transformation towards sustainability, some new technologies may also increase inequalities, imposing constraints on specific countries or presenting additional challenges for the environment.

Therefore, they must be accompanied by measures to maintain and expand equitable access to transport services as well as to those that mitigate environmental impacts over the entire production cycle of vehicles.

The report encourages governments and international organizations to regulate the development and deployment of all new transport technologies.


Describing the upcoming Conference as “a historic moment for stakeholders around the world”, the DESA chief described it as an opportunity “to discuss challenges and opportunities, good practices and solutions”.

The report was prepared by DESA in collaboration with an extensive network of United Nations agencies, will provide the background for the discussions and options for the way forward.

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