FIA Foundation
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: FIA Foundation
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Toolbox (0 hits), toolkit (1 hits),

Full Submission

Safe and sustainable mobility ? the new development challenge

A submission to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

1. The FIA Foundation is a UK-registered charity with an international remit. Our charitable objectives include road safety, sustainable mobility and the environmental sustainability of vehicles. The FIA Foundation is a partner, together with the UN Environment Programme, the International Energy Agency and the International Transport Forum, of the ?Global Fuel Economy Initiative? (GFEI) which promotes policy and technical solutions to improve vehicle fuel economy with the objective of reducing average fuel consumption across the global car fleet by 50% by 2050. The FIA Foundation is also a partner in the UNEP-led ?Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles? which recently announced the elimination of leaded fuel from almost all countries in the world. This Partnership, established following the 2002 Johannesburg Summit, is an excellent example of the types of focused public/private initiative that should result from the Rio+20 Conference. The FIA Foundation was also the founder of the Commission for Global Road Safety, which has also made a submission to this Conference. We associate fully with the comments and recommendations of the Commission for Global Road Safety.

2. The FIA Foundation welcomes Rio+20 as an important opportunity to identify the major sustainability challenges facing the world and to contribute to the design of a post-MDG framework that will meet the needs of developing nations in the second and third decades of the 21st Century. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development must acknowledge the forecast of dramatic growth in vehicle use over the coming decades. It has taken more than one hundred years to reach a global vehicle population of 700 million vehicles. Yet it is predicted that another 700 million vehicles may be added to the world?s roads by 2020, a doubling of automobiles in a period of less than ten years, with the growth taking place entirely in middle-income and low-income countries (Booz & Company, Automotive Forecast 2011). Unless political leaders take an active, and unlikely, decision now to attempt to prevent these market forecasts with severe restraint measures much of this anticipated vehicle growth will occur, with consequent impacts on urban air quality and congestion; fuel supply and security; greenhouse gas emissions; and road traffic fatalities and injuries. There is therefore a compelling and urgent need to put in place policies and practices to ensure that cars are as safe, clean and fuel-economic as possible, and also to prioritise the safety, health and access to mobility of non-motorised transport users who, across the developing world, will remain in the majority.

3. As part of this action global road traffic death and injury, and wider issues of safe and sustainable transportation policy, must be recognised as sustainability challenges at the Rio+20 Conference. The FIA Foundation encourages the secretariat, member nations and participants to include reference to safe and sustainable road mobility in the ?Outcomes Document? of the Conference and to use Rio+20 as a platform to launch new initiatives for road injury prevention.

4. According to the World Health Organization road crashes kill an estimated 1,300,000 people each year and injure between 20 - 50 million more. The vast majority ? more than ninety per cent - of these casualties are occurring in middle-income and low-income countries where road safety awareness and the capacity to tackle the problem is low, and where both traffic levels and road casualties are rising rapidly (Global Status Report on Road Safety, WHO, 2009).

5. Despite the absence of road safety from the mainstream sustainable development agenda there is now a global mandate for action to reduce global road traffic injuries. UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/255 has established the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 with a goal to ?stabilise and reduce? road deaths by 2020. The Commission for Global Road Safety has estimated that if this ambitious goal can be achieved up to 5 million lives and 50 million serious injuries could be prevented over the course of the Decade (?Make Roads Safe: A Decade of Action for Road Safety?, Commission for Global Road Safety, 2009).

6. In its Resolution proclaiming the Decade of Action for Road Safety, the United Nations General Assembly described road traffic injuries as a "major public health problem with a broad range of social and economic consequences which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress towards the Millennium Development Goals". According to leading development experts and international agencies, the impacts of failure to address road safety can go beyond the immediate toll of death and disability to undermine policies on poverty alleviation, child survival and development, and climate change (The Missing Link: Road Traffic Injuries & the Millennium Development Goals, Watkins, K; 2010).

7. There is growing evidence and recognition that addressing road safety will also help to achieve environmental objectives. In urban areas managing vehicle speed to provide safe and accessible streets for non-motorised transport users, combined with road design measures that protect and encourage walking and cycling (such as pavements, safe crossing points and bicycle lanes), will both reduce casualties amongst ?vulnerable road users? and support greener modes of transport, reducing modal shift to motorised vehicles. Dr Watkins, who was the author of a major 2008 ?Human Development Report? on climate change for the UNDP, also highlights that transport policy ?can play a central role in combating climate change not just by creating fuel-efficiency incentives and supporting the development of low carbon fuels, but also by supporting the development of safe public transport and creating the conditions for safe non-motorised transport. When safe sidewalks and cycle lanes are available, people are far more likely to undertake trips by walking or cycling?, (The Missing Link: Road Traffic Injuries & the Millennium Development Goals, Watkins, K; 2010).

8. The UN Environment Programme is also urging a change in emphasis in transport planning in developing nations to support and protect non-motorised mobility and to encourage safe and affordable public transport (low income families in developing countries can currently spend up to 25% of their income on public transport), citing the benefits for a range of environmental objectives. UNEP points out that ?cities with a better modal mix between cars, public transport, walking and cycling have lower energy use per capita. By incorporating non-motorised transport facilities in the transport grid, a large, lasting impact can be made on fuel use, congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions?. Furthermore, UNEP argues that ?designating road space for pedestrians and cyclists in proportion to the demand for non-motorised transport is crucial. It is also one of the most cost-effective actions for saving hundreds of thousands of lives. For example, the top two countermeasures for improving safety in Nairobi, Kenya, recommended by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) are pedestrian crossings and sidewalks?, (?Share the Road: Invest in Walking & Cycling?, UN Environment Programme and FIA Foundation, 2011).

9. Despite the projections of significant increases in car use the majority of people in low-income countries or in the significant low-income segments of the population in middle-income countries are unlikely to ever own a car. Yet it is these people who are overwhelmingly affected by road traffic crashes and other consequences of road traffic, including poor air quality (which is estimated to contribute to 800,000 deaths a year). Designing safe transportation, urban planning and land use policies that meet the commuting, social and healthcare needs of this ?green majority? is a pre-requisite for building the ?green economy? of the future and for achieving social justice.

10. The Rio+20 Conference can play a critical role in encouraging such action by building on recognition that road traffic injuries are a public health and sustainable development challenge that needs to be addressed, and that doing so will benefit the wider agendas of tackling climate change and working towards the Millennium Development Goals. Rio+20 can play the invaluable role of bringing road safety and wider issues of sustainable mobility in from the margins of public policy, by highlighting the cost-effective contribution safe and sustainable transport can play in helping to achieve many development goals.

11. The FIA Foundation believes that Rio+20 should aim to foster networks for practical outcomes across a range of policy areas contributing to safe and sustainable mobility. Our positive experience as a member and donor of the ?Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles? ( has demonstrated the potential of focused campaigns and initiatives harnessing the combined strengths of governments, institutions, NGOs and the private sector. The PCFV has succeeded in its goal of eliminating leaded fuel. It is now leading the global effort to reduce sulphur content in fuel. Partnerships of this kind (with funding support from OECD governments, corporations and philanthropies) should be established to focus on specific, solvable aspects of road safety, vehicle environmental performance and many of the other important issues considered in Rio.

12. In the area of road safety, for example, public/private partnerships such as the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative (working to increase motorcycle helmet wearing) and the Latin New Car Assessment Programme (an independent vehicle crash test programme in Latin America) have the potential to prevent many thousands of deaths and injuries. The 'Share the Road' initiative led by UNEP and the FIA Foundation, working for policy and design solutions to improve access to safe walking and cycling in Africa, is an example of a hybrid safety and environmental programme which, if brought to scale, could make a significant positive impact on the liveability of cities and prevent some modal shift to motor vehicles. The new Road Safety Fund , established by the WHO for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and co-managed by the FIA Foundation, is fostering connections and funding partnerships to support this kind of activity. The Rio+20 process should be used to encourage and develop this type of partnership.

13. Safe and sustainable mobility has not had a voice at previous global development conferences. The FIA Foundation is pleased to be supporting the 'Safer Roads at Rio+20' coalition which argues for safe and green mobility to be included in the policy toolkit that emerges from Rio+20. As a new global development challenge, and as an essential element of the 'green economy', safe and sustainable mobility must be a new priority for the international community at Rio+20. The compelling moral and environmental case for action - as both vehicle numbers and global road fatalities are predicted to double in the coming years, with the the burden in injury and other health impacts falling overwhelmingly on the poor - means this is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
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