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Located in South America, Colombia is considered an upper middle income country with a population of 47 million inhabitants. According to WHO, Colombia is estimated to suffer from 8,107 road fatalities each year.

Colombia is not a contracting party to any of the UN Road Safety Conventions, although it has implemented a series of best practice road safety measures, including national speed limits and restrictions on the use of mobile phones while driving. According to the WHO, Colombia has strong laws addressing the three of the five risk factors: drink-driving, child-seat, and seat-belt law. However, the speeding and helmet laws are still to be improved. National motorcycle helmet laws are also applicable to both drivers and passengers, with a marked increase of passenger helmet use – from 40% in 2013 to 76% in 2015 (WHO; GRSP). 

Between 20 and 21 October 2016, the Special Envoy met with the below stakeholders in Bogota: 

Ms. Paula Sanchez, Director of National Road Safety Agency, Ministry of Transport

The Special Envoy met with representatives from the National Road Safety Agency and provided an overview of his mandate. He also noted the increase of road traffic fatalities among motorcyclists and underlined that Colombia did not sign any of the six UN Conventions for Road Safety. The Director of the National Road Safety Agency, Ms. Paula Sanchez explained that local road safety principles have been established in 33 districts around Bogota and the Agency representatives expressed their intention to accede to the conventions in the following year. The work on developing new helmet standards is also ongoing. The Special Envoy expressed his interest in establishing a stronger link with the agency and encouraged the Minister of Transport to attend the next Inland Transport Committee Meeting in Geneva as well as offered assistance, if needed. He finally presented Save Kids Lives video and invited the agency representatives to sign the Save Kids Lives board.

Mr. Juan Pablo Bocarejo, Bogota Secretary General for Mobility

The Special Envoy was welcomed by Mr. Bocajero, who shared of the road safety priorities in the Mobility programme of the city of Bogota and highlighted their cooperation with Bloomberg Philanthropies and other stakeholders, such as International Road Assessment Program, John Hopkins University and NATCO. During the discussion, the Special Envoy highlighted France as an example for road safety with a decrease in the number of road traffic fatalities by five over 40 years. The Special Envoy underlined that Colombia is not a signatory to any of the six UN Conventions for Road Safety and encouraged accession.

Mr. Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogota 

The Special Envoy provided the Mayor of Bogota an overview of the terms of his mandate, participation at the UN Habitat III and the recent inclusion of Road Safety in the New Urban Agenda. The Mayor expressed his interest to reduce road traffic fatalities and highlighted his collaboration with the Secretary General for Mobility of Bogota. 

Mr. Jorge Eduardo Roja, Minister of Transport of Colombia

Mr. Roja welcomed the Special Envoy and mentioned his recent appointment as Minister of Transport last June. Mr. Roja also reminded the Special Envoy of the recent creation of the National Road Safety Agency and underlined that more people are killed on the road than by FARC.  The Special Envoy used France as an example of success in road safety with the significant decline in road traffic fatalities over the past 40 years. Following Minister’s request for support, the Special Envoy advised creating a working group with various stakeholders and invited the Minister to attend the upcoming Inland Transport Committee Meeting which is taking place in Geneva in February 2017.

Ms. Mary Bottagisio, President of Liga Contra la Violencia Vial

The Special Envoy met with Mary Bottagisio and discussed the road safety challenges in Colombia. Ms. Bottagisio provided an overview of her organization and its activities. Liga Contra LA Violencia Vial organized a Road Safety Forum earlier in October during which the UNECE WP.1 Secretariat, Mr. Robert Nowak, presented on the United Nations Road Safety Conventions. Mr. Nowak met with relevant stakeholders, with whom the Special Envoy also followed up during his visit. The Special Envoy encouraged Ms. Bottagisio to expand partnerships and to work with other local stakeholders. 

Meeting at the Ministry of Health with Ms. Johanna Espinosa, Engineer at Ministry of Health of Colombia, Mr. Arturo Diaz Gomez, Representative from the Minister of Health of Colombia

The Special Envoy provided an overview of his mandate and of his reflection on the road safety situation in Colombia. The Special Envoy encouraged the representative from the Minister of Health to collaborate with the UN Country Team and local stakeholders. The representative from the Minister of Health insisted on the importance of providing timely emergency care after crashes. The Special Envoy presented the Save Kids Lives video, which showcases the daily road safety challenges that children around the world face on their walk to school.

UN Country Team in Colombia

The UN Country Team provided a summary of the current situation in the country. The Special Envoy mentioned his recent participation at the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito and highlighted the recent inclusion of Road Safety in the New Urban Agenda. The UN Country Team shared that there were four injuries within the UN fleet in Bogota this year. They also mentioned the problem of traffic regulations in the country, especially concerning high number of driving hours and weak law enforcement. The following members of the Colombia UN Country Team participated in discussion:

o Mr. Italo Cardo, ILO

o Mrs. Vitoria Ginga, WFP

o Mrs. Ana Isabel Quan, WHO

o Ms. Maria Cristina Ramirez, OCR