The importance of freight transport as a trade enabler, engine of growth and a driver of social development is widely recognized, but its growing activity poses a concern in view of adverse effects on the environment and the climate, namely due to the sector’s current resource consumption patterns and related implications for fuel efficiency and emissions.
Complying with the Doha Mandate on transport, the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Transport, Trade Logistics and Trade Facilitation will address the challenges and the opportunities associated with sustainable freight transport systems in developing countries, including those with special needs, namely the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States and some countries with economies in transition.
Sustainable transport entails the ability to provide reliable, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, low-carbon, clean and climate-resilient transport systems.
The year 2015 is a decisive year for global sustainable development, a year in which the path will be set for a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals and a year in which a climate change agreement is expected to be reached at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21).
Freight transport is, thus, at a critical juncture at which its role in achieving sustainable development objectives can be further defined and better understood. Freight transport underpins trade and its competitiveness and is essential for access, connectivity and economic integration at all levels, including national, regional and global.
However, there is an untapped potential in the sector, as more value could be derived from freight transport by addressing its inherent oil dependency, enhancing its ability to provide access while being reliable and resilient, as well as by reducing its negative impacts on the environment and climate.
In this context, the year 2015 provides an opportunity for the freight transport sector to assert its strategic importance as an economic sector in its own right as well as underscore its potential to also generate value in terms of economic viability, social equity, resource conservation and environmental protection.
The meeting will consider relevant issues challenging the sustainability of freight transport and identify approaches and instruments used to implement sustainable practices in freight transport. Examples of national experiences and industry-led initiatives will be presented for illustration purposes and to help formulate some best practices and lessons.
The financial implications of implementing sustainable freight transport systems will also be discussed while exploring potential new sources of finance and the role of the private sector, notably through public–private partnerships and other innovative financing schemes in enabling sustainable freight transport systems.
Deliberations at the meeting will aim to inter alia:
- Raise awareness about the role of freight transport in enabling sustainable development.
- Improve understanding of key issues that undermine the sustainability of freight transport systems.
- Identify relevant challenges, barriers and enabling factors.
- Identify, based on best practices and lessons learned, opportunities associated with sustainable freight transport systems for developing countries wider dissemination and potential replication.
- Highlight the underlying important systemic issues including finance, capacity-building and the need for partnerships and cooperation of both the private and public sectors.
It is hoped that expert discussions at the meeting will help generate insight and formulate conclusions and a way forward in light of the new post-2015 development agenda and the future climate change agreement under the UNFCCC COP21.
Input from experts
Experts nominated by member States are encouraged to submit brief papers (approximately five pages) as contributions to the work of the meeting. The papers should be submitted to the UNCTAD secretariat in advance of the meeting. The papers will be made available to the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.
Experts are requested to submit papers to the UNCTAD secretariat as soon as possible, addressed to the Transport Section, Trade Logistics Branch, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland; fax: 41 22 917 0050; e-mail: email@example.com.