International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD)
Information
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Information (1 hits),

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Mobility and accessibility is crucial for poor people in remote mountainous areas to pull themselves out of isolation and poverty. Environment friendly technology, therefore, must be used as leverage for empowerment. This, indeed, was the consensus among the participants at International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) organised international workshop on Transport in the Mountains held at the Godavari Village Resort in Kathmandu, Nepal in November 2010.

The workshop participants agreed to a Statement of Intent and some of them as mentioned below, are mentioned as key recommendations to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in regard to the transportation in the mountainous areas. It should be an important concern of governments, local governments, UN Agencies and other relevant sectors to ensure the environmental protection of the fragile and active mountains, to minimize the construction of conventional transport infrastructure (e.g. Roads).

The transport systems, infrastructure, services and means required by and available to poor people living in mountainous ecosystems may challenge our traditional perception of what are suitable and appropriate solutions. The participants have witnessed and commend the level of expertise that Nepal has on complementary technological solutions such as trail bridges, ropeways - including gravity ones - and trails which are essential in areas where access by roads is not economically and environmentally viable. Given the impact that such options can have on the lives and livelihoods of the poor and any technological options promoted should consider the necessary safeguards and maintenance required. Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies dealing with infrastructure, in general, and (rural) roads in particular must synchronize their efforts. Any Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) of a Ministry must clearly define how it interacts with other government bodies also dealing with infrastructure.

The current "isle approach" where each institution operates as if the other does not exist affect negatively the effective use of limited public resources and must be avoided. Based on the experiences from developing countries with mountain regions, workshop participants believe that the following Good Governance principles should be introduced:

With respect to sustainable road construction:

1. Ensuring quality control of mountain roads by defining and enforcing norms, standards, and technologies.

2. Local communities must be informed, consulted and if possible involved in the planning, construction and maintenance of infrastructure passing their location or vicinity thereof.

3. Enhancing transparency and accountability markedly by introducing Cost Accounting and facilitating access to the accounts by the public through the web and other accessible Information means.

4. Keeping Central and Local Governments more efficient by ensuring the safeguarding of natural resources and avoid constructions leading to man-made disasters.

5. Applying the Feasibility Study Approach to include procedures on how to compute the per km capita cost and requirements to adjustments with respect to Geology, Hydrology, Drainage, Resettlement-needs, and replacing (heritage) trails. The respective Ministries are to set the acceptable upper limits on the per capita cost and tolerable limits on the adjustments.

6. Workshop participants acknowledge the tensions between road infrastructure works and environmental protection. Thus it is very important to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments and mitigation plans for environmental damage and biodiversity loss are comprehensive, well conceived and properly implemented. In view of increasing vehicle imports and the consequent air pollution, a favourable duty system for carbon emissions-free vehicles should be considered.

7. Workshop participants are conscious that the isolation of people living in mountains exacerbates their poverty and the conditions of inequality they face in our societies. Thus, workshop participants endeavor to continue exchanging ideas, identify areas of potential collaboration and promote this important debate at national and international levels.

The above extracts were taken from the Statement of Intent (The Godavari Statement of Intent) published at the conclusion of the International Workshop on Mountain Transport held in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 21 -27 November, 2010.
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