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Countries to gather at UNECE to harness automation for inland transport

Automation holds enormous potential for the future of transport and can, if properly harnessed, catalyze efforts to realize the ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In order to speed up efforts to unlock the potential of automation – in terms of improved safety, efficiency, environmental performance and connectivity – Ministers, high-level representatives and key transport stakeholders from around the world will come together in Geneva for the 81st session of UNECE’s Inland Transport Committee (ITC) on 19-22 February 2019.

The Inland Transport Committee stands as a unique intergovernmental platform to capitalize on the opportunities of automation and address the major challenges for its deployment. Harnessing the benefits of automation is an increasingly important dimension of the Committee’s leading work to deliver on the sustainable transport objectives of the 2030 Agenda. 

The Committee’s 2019 plenary session will begin on 19 February with a high-level policy segment on “Automation in Transport”, addressing how it can help to strengthen the safety, efficiency and sustainability of transport systems, in addition to exploring challenges and synergies in advancing automation for all modes of inland transport – by road, rail and inland waterway. The segment will provide a space for reflection on the Committee’s past achievements, current impact and future trajectory, highlighting its value added and underlining its further potential. In addition to high-level representatives from governments, heads of key transport international governmental and non-governmental organizations and companies are expected to participate at the policy segment.

At the end of the high-level policy segment, Ministers and Heads of delegations of Contracting Parties will be invited to adopt a resolution on: “Enhancing Cooperation, Harmonization and Integration in the Era of Transport Automation”, highlighting the relevance of the Committee in ensuring that the accelerated pace of innovation in transport automation and digitalization will be characterized by harmonization and interoperability, as well as safety, equitable access and intermodal integration, as essential preconditions for the achievement of the SDGs.

Setting the strategy until 2030

Over more than 70 years, the Committee has evolved into the centre of UN Inland Transport Conventions. Recognizing the worldwide impact of the regulatory work of the Committee, the increasingly global geographical scope of its legally binding instruments and the urgent need to make the international regulatory framework governing inland transport more inclusive and accessible to all and support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Ministers have called for the development of the Committee’s strategy until 2030, positioning ITC within in a fast-changing global policy environment. The Strategy will be discussed on 19 February with a view to its adoption.

The week’s programme will be further enriched by side events, including on “Automation in Transport: Safe Deployment of Automated Vehicles in Traffic” (18 February) and Automation in Transport: Digitalization and e-documents as enablers of growth and development (19 February) which will highlight progress and perspectives from governments and key stakeholders on key legal, regulatory and policy issues, as well exhibitions and demonstrations of new technologies related to automation in transport.

The regular session of the Committee will start on 20 February, focusing on important topics on the future of inland transport governance. The most important themes to be debated and decided upon include action for road safety, including through the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund launched in 2018; automation; Intelligent Transport Systems, digitalization; e-documents, including eCMR and eTIR; the transport of dangerous goods; and border-crossing facilitation.

The preliminary weekly programme is available here.