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UNECE and partners support harmonization of transport statistics for improved SDG monitoring and comparability

For any evidence-based transport policy, producing relevant transport statistics that are timely, accurate and impartial are necessary. In addition this allows the monitoring of the transport-related Sustainable Development Goals, such as indicator 3.6.1 on reducing road fatalities, 9.1.2 on monitoring passenger and freight volumes, and 11.2.1 on ensuring access to convenient public transport in urban areas. But how can we ensure that the data are comparable across countries, and at the same time minimise the reporting burden on national statistical offices?

The Glossary for Transport Statistics has been jointly published by UNECE, Eurostat and the International Transport Forum since 1994, and it plays an important role in providing definitions of statistical terms for all modes of transport, from infrastructure, vehicles and traffic measurement, through to transport safety, energy consumption and intermodal movements. These harmonized definitions mean that data can be compared across transport modes and countries. Further, with the glossary terms being applied to a common questionnaire administered jointly by the three organisations, it ensures that identical data are reported to all at the same time, so busy national statistical offices do not have to provide the same information multiple times. 

These definitions require updating to accurately reflect new transport developments and how data are collected. Thus over the last twelve months member States and relevant organisations have had the opportunity to provide new or revised definitions, for consideration in the fifth edition of the Glossary (the fourth edition was published in 2009). It has been a particular goal for this edition to improve the global scope of the glossary, ensuring that definitions are relevant for countries in all regions and not just Europe.

Proposed new definitions reflect changes in bicycle infrastructure (and electric bicycles), a new definition for serious injuries in road traffic, as well as new definitions of different levels of autonomous driving. UNECE’s Working Party on Transport Statistics (WP.6) at its last session in June endorsed progress made on the Glossary so far. Meeting in Luxembourg next week, these updates to the Glossary will be discussed and finalized amongst member States and key stakeholders.

By promoting the exchange of experience and expertise on transport policies, by monitoring progress on transport-related SDGs, and by helping countries to produce better transport statistics, UNECE continues to support countries in the region for the development of evidence-based approaches to sustainable mobility.

You can find the 4th edition of the Glossary for Transport Statistics at https://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp6/publications/stats_glossary.html.

For more details on UNECE’s Working Party on Transport Statistics , please see https://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp6/wp6.html