The inaugural UN World Sustainable Transport Day

UN World Sustainable Transport Day will strengthen UN work for sustainable transport & transport education, says Junhua Li, Under-Secretary-General UN

Today, 26th November 2023, marks the first United Nations World Sustainable Transport Day, a day created in response to the impact that transport has on climate change, as well as the disparity between transport options around the world — only half of the world’s urban population has convenient access to public transport.

The UN has marked today as dedicated to enhancing intermodal transport connectivity, promoting environmentally friendly transportation solutions and developing socially inclusive transport infrastructure, focussing on various aspects of transport sustainability to ensure a comprehensive and holistic approach towards a greener future.

The UN defines sustainable transport as:

“The provision of services and infrastructure for the mobility of people and goods — advancing economic and social development to benefit today’s and future generations — in a manner that is safe, affordable, accessible, efficient, and resilient, while minimising carbon and other emissions and environmental impacts.” 

A day to strengthen UN work for sustainable transport 

“The international community is granting ever growing attention to the role of transport in driving our broader development goals and climate ambitions,” shares Junhua Li, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs at the UN.

Previously, Li was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Italy and San Marino, and Director General of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, having began his career at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1985.

“In May 2023 the UN General Assembly declared 26 November as World Sustainable Transport Day. This dedicated day is expected to strengthen UN work for sustainable transport and calls for educating people worldwide about transport issues. I encourage all of you to get engaged in the celebrations.

“The rapid uptake of electric vehicles is reducing transport’s dependency on oil and bringing stability to modern renewables. But even with this progress, great challenges remain. As the size of electric vehicles increase so too does the consumption of materials and power. Concrete commitments and actions across industries and all modes of transport, as well as smart choices for infrastructure and vehicles will be needed. 

“Growing motorization presents another key challenge, driven by growing populations and rapid urbanisation. Motorization rates, particularly in cities, cause congestion, air pollution and affiliated health problems and productivity losses. This is an important avenue for discussing policies that make transport more sustainable and that make our global systems of transport more integrative.”

The wider impact of UN World Sustainable Transport Day

“This new day, 26 November, is a special day for everyone to stop, reflect and recognise just how crucial transport, and road transport in particular, is in every aspect of our daily lives,” shares Umberto de Pretto, Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union (IRU).

De Pretto has been with the IRU for nearly three decades, having previously held the position of Deputy Director at the International Chamber of Commerce. 

“As the voice of more than 3.5 million companies operating mobility and logistics services in over 100 countries, we lead solutions to help the world move better. IRU’s work supports trade, economic growth, jobs, safety, the environment and communities. 

“At the heart of IRU are millions of journeys across the planet every day: people and goods moving to where they need to be, in buses, coaches, taxis or trucks, for all, or even just a small part, of their journey.

“Road transport services – trucks, vans, buses, coaches and taxis – are the lifeblood of economies and communities worldwide, moving people and goods across villages, towns, nations and continents. Road transport plays an indispensable role in driving the pillars of sustainable development – environmental, social and economic.

“As IRU, we are particularly proud as we proposed this day and helped steer it through the UN adoption process. Now let’s turn words into action. Let’s make 26 November a day to remember this year, and every year.”


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