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Source: Small Island Developing States

19 September 2019: The Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) has released a report that analyzes how the first quadrennial (2016-2019) Voluntary National Review (VNR) reporting cycle has addressed transport. The report finds that 92% of submitted VNRs highlight progress made in the transport sector but only 30% of VNRs explicitly reference transport sustainability impacts like poverty alleviation, zero hunger, access to education and women’s empowerment.

Sustainable transport supports achievement of eight of the 17 SDGs: SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action). Sustainable transport contributes, directly and indirectly, to 13 SDG targets related to road safety, renewables, e-mobility, energy consumption, logistics, rural/urban access, public transport, cycling, inclusive transport, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, vehicle efficiency and congestion.

The report titled, ‘Sustainable Transport: A Critical Driver to Achieve the SDGs,’ aims to provide a resource for policymakers to better understand the role of transport in achieving the SDGs and help the transport community and other relevant sectors, such as the energy and health communities, improve their understanding of the patterns, opportunities and gaps in reporting on sustainable transport in the VNR process. The report shares examples of sustainable, low-carbon transport actions presented in VNRs, including VNRs from Australia, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Egypt, Kiribati, Latvia, Mauritius, Portugal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Singapore, Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UK.

The report’s analysis finds increasing transport references in VNRs over time, from 16 references to sustainable transport in 2016 to 42 references in 2017, 44 references in 2018 and 42 references in 2019.  Between 2016 and 2019, the majority of VNR references focused on transport infrastructure development related to passenger and freight activities (SDG 9), all-season rural roads (SDG 9) and accessible public transport systems (SDG 11). VNRs also focused on increasing renewable energy in the transport sector (SDG 7), reducing mobile-source greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (SDG 13) and reducing traffic injuries and fatalities (SDG 3).

The report therefore observes that while VNRs recognize clear linkages between transport and infrastructure-oriented SDGs and between transport and energy-oriented SDGs, they pay limited attention to the social dimension of sustainable development. The report highlights the need for increased attention to how transport contributes to poverty alleviation (SDG 1), food security (SDG 2), school enrollment (SDG 4 on quality education) and social equity and reduced inequalities (SDG 10). The report argues that countries need to further understand and enable sustainable transport as a cross-cutting sector to ensure VNRs contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of sustainable, low-carbon transport development as well as to more integrated, systemic policy approaches. The report further argues that incorporating sustainability impacts, including air quality, fuel savings, road safety and travel time, into GHG emission methodologies can improve cost-benefit ratios of sustainable transport investments and better reflect such investments’ contributions towards multiple SDGs.

The report argues that countries should aim to “demonstrate tangible progress on sustainable transport” by: setting quantified targets; reporting transport co-benefits across the SDGs, including SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5 (gender equality), 7, 9 and 11; and citing specific case studies to facilitate cross-country learning and knowledge exchange. To help policymakers translate the SDGs into national sector plans, strategies and budgets, the report presents a framework approach to help transport sector decision makers make long-term investment and policy decisions related to sustainable transport. The eight-step approach (gap analysis diagnosis, consultation, vision and targets, policy coherence and prioritization, financing, awareness and capacity building, institutional frameworks, and measuring, reporting and verification) aims to help policymakers mainstream the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development objectives within the transport sector. [Publication: Sustainable Transport: A Critical Driver to Achieve the SDGs] [SLoCaT Press Release]

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