unctad.org | Sustainable Freight Transportation for Agenda 2030 discussed at UNCTAD14
Sustainable Freight Transportation for Agenda 2030 discussed at UNCTAD14
22 July 2016

​Discussing sustainable freight transport is both timely and topical as the world community moves ahead with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ASD) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement (COP21).

Bearing these considerations in mind, a Ministerial Round Table on Sustainable Transportation for Agenda 2030: Boosting the Arteries of Global Trade, was organized by UNCTAD, in collaboration with the SLoCaT (Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport) at UNCTAD14. A broad-based high level panel of stakeholders from the public and the private sectors, government, transport industry, the United Nations system, academia and regional development banks considered the concept of sustainable freight transport, shared its experiences in this field and reflected on the need for an international framework for sustainable freight transport

All agreed that freight transport was a critical enabling factor of trade and development and that integrating the three dimensions of sustainability was an imperative. Challenges remain in the face sustainable freight transport and these span a broad-range of institutional, legal, financial, technology, and capacity-related considerations, including human capacity and skills. While economic considerations such as growth, connectivity and access, urban-rural linkages, efficiency, transport cost reduction, trade competitiveness and market integration constitute priority areas in the quest of sustainability, especially for developing countries, the co-benefits between the three dimensions of sustainability can, nevertheless, be significant and should be further leveraged to harness synergies and generate mutual gains. Multimodal transport and corridor approaches that build on cooperation between all players across the transport chain are essential for seamless trade and sustainable freight. In the same vein, rural areas integration into markets and supply chains and urban freight are rising as important considerations for the sustainability debate. With fast growing urbanization in particular, a systemic approach integrating urban planning and development on the one hand, and freight transport policies, on the other is of the essence.

Achieving convergence under a common framework may be difficult given the multiple stakeholders involved. Building the capacity to manage the varying perspectives and leveraging local initiatives, partnerships, innovation while, at the same time, scaling up investments are a pre-requisite for any such framework. To effectively move the national and regional agenda to relevant international fora, UNCTAD could, for example, act as an observer in relevant regional trade groupings in Africa to ensure a better appreciation of the local/regional situation. Partnerships, including public-private as well as collaboration between academia and government, best-practice sharing, and a broad agreement on performance outputs and metrics to underpin clear monitoring and reporting mechanisms would all help support a framework on sustainable freight transport. UNCTAD has a role to play in helping advance this work including by partnering with relevant organizations such as UN Habitat, SLoCaT, academia, governments, regional trade groupings and associations, and other like-minded partners to enable best practice sharing and to further cooperation in the field with the ultimate objective of supporting the 2030 SDA.


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