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On 14 November 2017, the Special Envoy participated in the 18th World Road Meeting, organised by the International Road Federation (IRF) in New Delhi, India. The Special Envoy spoke at the Plenary Session on Safe Roads and Smart Mobility, calling for an increased commitment and rigorous action towards reducing road traffic fatalities and injuries. He referred to the Delhi Declaration, adopted a day earlier at the Ministerial Forum and encouraged all the stakeholders to contribute to advancing road safety in their countries. In conclusion, the Special Envoy was rewarded with the 2017 IRF Road Safety Award for his contribution to global road safety. 

On the day before, the Special Envoy addressed the Ministerial meeting, where the Delhi Declaration, highlighting key national and global priorities was adopted. The Special Envoy expressed his appreciation to all the Ministers in attendance for their commitment to the issue and encouraged them to take stronger action towards reducing road traffic fatalities in their countries. The Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Luxembourg and Russia participated at the Ministerial Forum.

  •  H.E. Mr. Jagat Prakash Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare

The Special Envoy gave an overview of his activities within four key priorities of his assigned mandate. The Minister shared that road traffic injuries were a major burden on the health system and informed of his commitment to upgrade the country’s trauma units. He also shared about the Ministry’s efforts to improve coordination between the District Hospitals, Medical Colleges and Trauma Units to improve data collection. They both agreed that prevention is better than a cure, and noted that a large number of crashes also occur on good roads in India, suggesting a strong need for a behavioural change among road users. 

The Special Envoy raised concerns about the discrepancy in data reported by government and the WHO Global Status Report, drew attention to the UN Conventions on Road Traffic (India is a contracting party to two out of six Conventions), and shared information on the proposed UN Road Safety Trust Fund. The Special Envoy further highlighted road safety’s position in the SDGs and target 3.6 to halve road traffic fatalities by 2020, as well as the work underway to seek an agreement with vehicle manufacturers on minimum vehicle safety standards, including with Tata Motors. He endorsed the government’s efforts to pass the new Motor Vehicle Act, of which the Minister is also supportive. The Minister committed to further discussing the matter with his colleague, the Minister of Transport, to ensure better institutional coordination and to support the new legislation.

  • Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India

The Special Envoy gave an overview of his mandate and priorities and discussed existing road safety challenges in India with the UN Resident Coordinator. The Resident Coordinator shared that the UN Office in Delhi focuses on health, climate, energy, agriculture, and women’s safety, among others, while the WHO is the focal point for road safety. The discussion covered a need to raise the awareness of policy makers on key health issues related to road crashes and air pollution, particularly to urge policy makers to consider integrated policies and non-conventional approaches. They agreed that there is a considerable opportunity to improve road safety in India by building sustained political commitment and adopting a multi-sectoral approach to reducing road traffic deaths and injuries.

A country in South-Asia with a population of 1.3 billion inhabitants, India is the second most populous country in the world. According to WHO, it is estimated to have 207,551 road traffic fatalities annually, with the rate of 16.6 deaths per 100,000 people. The WHO’s assessment suggests that India has strong laws addressing safety-belt use, however the remaining four risk factors, such as drink driving, speeding, helmet use and child restraint laws need to be improved. India is a contracting party to two out of six UN Road Safety Conventions. 

The Special Envoy also visited India in October 2017 for the 2017 India Economic Summit and for meetings with H.E. Mr. Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation of India as well as with the UN Country Team.