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UNECE helps connect transport and environment objectives for sustainable mobility in Eastern and South Eastern Europe and the Caucasus

We all commute daily for work or leisure purposes. Public or private transport is an integral part of our lives and plays a fundamental role for social and economic development, connecting people and economies. At the same time, the transport sector puts significant pressures on the environment and human health. These include contributing to air pollution (which causes about half a million premature deaths per year in the WHO European region) noise pollution, climate change (greenhouse gas emissions from inland transport account for between 23 and 27 per cent of total emissions), loss of biodiversity, road accidents and physical inactivity (which accounts for approximately 1 million deaths per year in the WHO European region).

Unlocking the potential of transport and mobility as drivers for sustainable development therefore requires finding ways to harness their many benefits while addressing their negative effects. A holistic and integrated approach can help countries to reach this balance.

On 18–19 June 2019, 46 experts from the transport and environment sectors from countries of Eastern and South Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and UNECE, EBRD and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Montenegro, came together in Budva, Montenegro, to exchange experience and share good practice making transport more sustainable and minimizing its impact on the environment and human health.

During the two days, experts learned about developments and available tools and instruments to support sustainable transport. They discussed opportunities and challenges currently hindering the development of sustainable transport, also in the light of achieving the related Sustainable Development Goals. Experts shared national best practices and brainstormed on how to overcome challenges and make urban transport more sustainable.

In particular, experts discussed challenges and identified policy options and practical solutions to minimize the environmental impact of transport and reduce emissions, improve public transport, expand electric-mobility and promote the shift to more environmentally friendly modes of transport, including cycling. They identified key barriers to implementing recommendations made in UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs) that relate to transport and environment. The experts also examined possible actions to overcome the barriers, by looking specifically at road vehicle standards (including United Nations regulations administered by UNECE), subsidies and taxes, incentives and charges, infrastructure and investment, transport policy and information and awareness raising.

In preparing for the workshop, participants assessed the status of implementation of recommendations related to transport and environment made in the latest EPRs of their countries. Analysis of the results reveals that the implementation of approximately 46% of these recommendations is on-going, while implementation of about 28% of the recommendations is at an early stage. Most of the recommendations pertained to the need to decrease air emissions from the transport sector, renew the vehicle fleet, increase the quality of fuel, improve public transport, develop sustainable transport policy, collect and make available information and data and raise public awareness on making sustainable choices in transport and mobility.

At the end of the workshop participants indicated what they would aim to do in the next two to three years to advance sustainable transportation in their countries, towards ensuring adequate, safe, accessible and environmentally-friendly transportation for all.

The workshop was hosted by the Government of Montenegro with financial support from the Government of Germany. Workshop materials are available on the UNECE website (http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=51891).