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UN Road Safety Fund to adjust its 2020 Call for Proposals to a world transformed by Covid-19

Published: 17 July 2020

The UN Road Safety Fund’s 2020 call for Proposals will be partially connected with the changing priorities of governments as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with respect to building better and safer mobility. This was decided by the Fund’s Advisory Board at its fourth session last week. The 2020 Call for Proposals, for an overall amount of US$ 4 million, will be launched in the last quarter of 2020.

The Advisory Board also decided to extend the Fund until 31 December 2030, to coincide with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Stockholm Declaration’s proposed target to reduce road deaths and injuries by 50% by 2030, agreed upon in February at the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.  

During the meeting, the Advisory Board Members reaffirmed their commitment to the Fund and the importance to maintain the Stockholm momentum despite the Covid-19 crisis. With Covid-19, “we observed lower road traffic volume but also pics in driving speed and risk behaviors” noticed the Advisory Board representative and Assistant Director General for Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems at the World Health organization, Dr Naoko Yamamoto. Road traffic injuries remain the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years and ninety percent of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. If Covid-19 “highlighted many issues of the global agenda, it doesn’t diminish their relevance and this is fully true for ensuring road safety” highlighted H.E. Mr Alexander Gorovoy, First Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation re-elected to the UNRSF Advisory Board as Member States’ representative of the ESCAP region.

“We need to recall and not forget that road safety is also a global health issue” declared Mattias Landgren, State Secretary to the Minister for Infrastructure in Sweden. As highlighted by Dr Naoko Yamamoto, “we don’t need a vaccine to stop traffic fatalities but we need to implement what we know that works by preventing such as disaster and by investing in safe and sustainable mobility.” Furthermore, we should learn from the current crisis and as Matthew Baldwin, Deputy-Director General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission observed , we now know that people accepted certain actions to stay safe such as social distancing, that could be a first step for advocating for safer behaviors on the road.

Members of the Advisory Board agreed that we can simply not go back to business as usual after the Covid-19 pandemic. “We need a new perspective for road safety and a new starting point for better international knowledge sharing and cooperation’ for cleaner, safer and sustainable road traffic”, concluded Mattias Landgren, State Secretary to the Minister for Infrastructure in Sweden recalling the importance to keep the Stockholm momentum despite the Covid-19 crisis. As the United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt highlighted: “Unlike Covid-19, road crashes are predictable, and we can act directly on the causes of this tragedy.”

The UNRSF is well-positioned to make an impact with respect to the ambitious target to reduce road victims by 50% by 2030. Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the UNECE Olga Algayerova recalled that the Fund now finances 15 high impact projects in  19 low- and middle-income countries in 4 regions, targeting key gaps in their national road safety systems. The five pilot projects that began in May 2019 are showing first encouraging results as highlighted in the Fund’s 2019 annual report.  

The need to increase  the capacity to build reliable evidence and target the most vulnerable road users was also raised by Mr Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Infrastructure at the World Bank.

The Advisory Board session was held back-to-back with a Steering Committee session, that decided on specific funding cycle parameters, to be further elaborated in another session in October. The Steering Committee discussed the implementation of the decisions of the Advisory Board and set the priorities for the secretariat for the coming months, taking into account that the next UN resolution for road safety should be submitted for adoption in the third quarter of 2020.

In the second half of 2020, The UNRSF secretariat will continue to strengthen its fundraising activities, including through the establishment of new public and private partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms. In May 2020, two new donors joined the UNRSF growing donor family: Essilor, a private sector ophthalmic optics company and the Republic of Mauritius, the first low and middle-income country to join the Fund. In June, two existing donors, the FIA Foundation and the Government of Hungary made new commitments to the UNRSF. Their support to the Fund will contribute to finance projects that will save lives on the road around the world. The Acting Head of the UNRSF Secretariat, Romain Hubert, emphasized “Each step forward is a symbol of hope for safer roads! “

More information

  • UNRSF webinar “An opportunity to build back better: the potentially transformative impact of Covid-19 on road safety in low and middle-income countries (weblink with flyer to be added this 15/07)

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