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UNECE’s Inland Transport Committee sees encouraging signs of recovery in the Transport Sector

Published: 04 March 2011

Geneva 

The inland transport sector, which was heavily affected by the global economic downturn and the 12.2% contraction of world merchandise trade in 2009, has shown an encouraging increase in 2010. Road freight transport rose approximately 10%, after a 30% plunge in 2009. However, levels are expected to remain lower than the pre-crisis peak for all inland transport modes in 2011, due to the expected deceleration in the growth of world trade. These were some of the conclusions of the review of the transport situation in UNECE member countries discussed at the 73rd annual session of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee (ITC) from 1-3 March 2011.

In his opening address, Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary, said that National economies rely on transport more than ever before, as they depend increasingly on international trade. Achieving efficient international transport is a demanding task, requiring political commitment, harmonized technical norms and regulations that ensure a high level of efficiency, safety and environmental protection”.  

The ITC discussed the impact of climate change on the transport sector. The adverse impact is evident already in the UNECE region, as evidenced by the number and intensity of the extreme weather events recorded in 2010, which considerably hindered transport operations in many countries. This underscores the need to increase mitigation efforts such as the reduction of CO2 emissions, as well as adaptation and risk management measures. To tackle this issue, the Committee initiated a Group of Experts to study adaptation measures to the climate change impacts on international transport networks and prepare policy recommendations.

Inland water transport – This competitive alternative or helpful addition, to road and rail transport on many European transport corridors is largely under-used. The Committee endorsed the second UNECE White Paper on inland water transport, which identifies seven priority areas for the development of inland water transport and formulates key policy recommendations for governments and international organizations.

The ITC also recalled the role of UNECE’s World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations in the development of regulations which contribute to improved vehicles safety and environmental performance. Last year, the World Forum focused on further improving fuel efficiency of engines and reducing CO2 emissions of motor vehicles, i.e with new provisions for rolling resistance of tyres which reduce CO2 emissions. In addition, the World Forum adopted  globally harmonized test procedures for measuring the emissions of heavy duty vehicles, as well as updates of regulations to prevent passengers from receiving electric shocks in normal use and in case of road crashes.

Moreover, UNECE is implementing a United Nations Development Account funded global project aimed at the development of a monitoring and assessment tool for CO2 emissions in inland transport to facilitate climate change mitigation.  

Amongst the various other issues discussed at the ITC, were:

  • The impact of the crisis on investments on transport infrastructure projects - In 2009 and 2010, many UNECE countries postponed or cancelled infrastructure projects which will have adverse consequences on competitiveness
  • Road safety - Though overall fatality rates in the UNECE region have been declining over the past decade, in certain sub-regions numbers are still persistently high or continue to worsen. The launch of the “Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020)”, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, will bring this challenge to the forefront of developments, with most UNECE countries taking actions towards effective road safety policies and the international community co-ordinating its efforts to ensure that the Decade leads to real improvements. UNECE has pioneered road safety activities for 60 years, making it a global centre of expertise on road safety issues. The ITC discussed UNECE’s contribution to the Decade, including the Conference to be held in Belgrade, Serbia, on 27-29 April 2011 that will mark its launch in the UNECE region.
  • The pan-European application of the digital tachograph, under the European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) - In view of the economic impact of the issue and the legal complications on implementation at pan-European level, the Committee invited the Contracting Parties to the Agreement to continue their dialogue under UNECE auspices aimed at identifying practical and mutually acceptable solutions.

The 73rd session of the ITC also hosted the First meeting of the Chairs of the Committee’s subsidiary bodies. The Chairs of 13 UNECE Working Parties and of the 3 Administrative Committees of UNECE legal instruments, discussed with the members of the ITC Bureau and the Government delegates, about the multidisciplinary, cross-cutting issues requiring further cooperation. Common challenges were identified and ways forward were discussed. The ITC decided that such meetings become a regular feature of the future Committee’s sessions.

The documents of the meeting will be available at: www.unece.org.unecedev.colo.iway.ch/trans/events/2011/ITC73_2011.html

For more  information, please contact:

Mrs. Eva Molnar, Director

or

Mr. Michalis P. Adamantiadis, Secretary of the ITC

Transport Facilitation and Economics Section
UNECE Transport Division
Phone: +41(0)22 917 24 01
E-mail:  infotransport@unece.org

Note to editors
The Inland Transport Committee is the highest political body of the UNECE in the field of transport. Together with its subsidiary bodies, it has provided a pan-European intergovernmental forum over the last 60 years, where UNECE member countries negotiate the international legal instruments on inland transport. These legal instruments are considered indispensable for developing efficient, safe and sustainable pan-European and Euro-Asian transport systems.

Ref: ECE/TRANS/11/P03


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