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The Special Envoy met with government officials in the Philippines to encourage greater action on road safety given the approaching deadline to achieve SDG target 3.6 to half the number of road traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2020. The Special Envoy and government officials discussed potential ways to improve the situation by addressing issues such as improved data collection, better cross-ministry coordination, possibly, through the proposed inter-agency road safety committee, needs of vulnerable road users, including helmet use, inadequate financial commitment to implementing the National Road Safety Strategy and consideration of accession to and implementation of UN Road Safety Conventions. The Special Envoy shared about the recent establishment of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund, aimed to support Member States towards road-safety-related SDG targets.

The Special Envoy held bilateral meetings with the following officials: 

o General Danilo Lim, Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)

o Mr. Mario Villaverde, Under-Secretary of Health, Department of Health of the Philippines

o Mr. Mark de Leon, Assistant Secretary of Transport, Department of Transportation of the Philippines

o Congressman Cesar Sarmiento, Chair of the Committee on Transportation, House of Representatives of the Philippines

The Special Envoy also took the opportunity to discuss road safety with UN representatives and other road safety stakeholders:

Ms. Almud Weitz, Practice Manager Transport and Digital Development, World Bank

The Special Envoy shared an overview of his activities in the context of key priorities of his assigned mandate. He further shared about recently established UNRSTF, in which the World Bank is among key partners. 

World Bank representatives presented their activities in the country and in the region to improve road safety in the Philippines. The World Bank team introduced the “DRIVER” or Data for Road Incident Visualization, Evaluation, and Reporting tool for road incident recording and analysis. This application, developed by the World Bank, will help engineering units to prioritize crash-prone areas for interventions and improve emergency response. The project was previously piloted in Cebu and Manila, and currently being scaled up through the entire country. 

The Special Envoy agreed that such tool would be useful to collect evidence on the impact of road safety interventions. In conclusion, the Special Envoy commended the World Bank’s dedication to road safety and offered support. 

Dr. Gundo Weiler, UN Resident Coordinator a.i.; UN Country Team in the Philippines

On 4 June, the Special Envoy met with Dr. Weiler and the UN Country Team in the Philippines. The Special Envoy presented key priorities of his assigned mandate and shared about his activities to date. He further highlighted the SDG goal targets 3.6 and 11.2, noting the approaching deadline to achieve the target 3.6 to halve road traffic fatalities and injuries by 2020, and calling for stronger action. Moreover, he emphasized that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among UN personnel and shared about the UN Internal Road Safety Strategy, developed by UNDSS, which is scheduled to launch later this year. 

The UN Country Team shared about road safety situation in the Philippines, explaining that 53% of road traffic fatalities are attributed to motorbike riders and that fatigue is the main cause of road accidents. Dr. Weiler further shared that the anti-distracted driving legislation has recently been adopted by the Congress. UN-Habitat representatives shared about intersection with sustainable cities, promoting the needs of cyclists and pedestrians. 

Among the challenges mentioned by the UNCT were lack of allocated funding to improving road safety and weak law enforcement. Mr. Todt emphasized the need to improve data management, including the monitoring and reporting of road traffic fatalities. The Special Envoy encouraged stronger commitment from and collaboration among all agencies, such as regional development banks and other stakeholders. He further shared about the recent launch of the UNRSTF aimed at supporting Member States’ efforts towards improving road safety. 

The following members of the UN Country Team participated in the meeting:

o Dr Gundo Weiler, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. and WHO Representative

o Dr Juliard Go, Technical Officer for Road Safety 

o Mr Cris Rollo, Country Programme Manager, UN-Habitat

o Ms Julia Rees, Representative ad interim and Deputy Representative, UNICEF

Meeting with local road safety stakeholders

During this meeting with representatives from iRAP, Highway Patrol Group, Manila Times, and others, the Special Envoy presented his mandate and priorities, as well as gave an overview of his activities. Underreporting was strongly highlighted, and all stakeholders agreed on the need for the improved road crash database. There was a discussion about the ways to advocate with high-level authorities to take action on improving road safety and it was agreed that the issue should be presented with the focus on its impact on children and other vulnerable populations and road users. 

The Philippines is a middle-income country with a population of 103.3 million inhabitants. According to the WHO, the Philippines is estimated to suffer from 10,379 road fatalities each year and has strong laws addressing two of five risk factors: speed control and seat-belt use law; drink-driving, child restraint and helmet use laws need to be improved. The Philippines is a contracting party to two out of six UN Road Safety Conventions: 1968 Conventions on Road Traffic and Road Signs and Signals. 

During his previous mission to the Philippines in February 2016, the Special Envoy held meetings with Dr. Emerson Carlos, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Mr. Dante Lantin, Assistant Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Mr. Jonathan Miano, Director for Operations of the Philippines National Police (PNP) and UN Country Team.