The Second UN Global Conference on Sustainable Transport, a three-day event hosted virtually by Beijing started on Thursday, 14 October 2021.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan was among the speakers on the first day of the conference. It is worth noting that the First UN Global Conference on Sustainable Transport was hosted by Turkmenistan in November 2016.
This report includes the speeches by the UN Secretary General, the President of China and the President of Turkmenistan.
It also contains a pre-conference UN press release summarizing important bits of information.
14 October 2021
In remarks to the opening, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined what is at stake.
“The next nine years must see a global shift towards renewable energy. Sustainable transport is central to that transformation,” he said.
The move to sustainable transport could deliver savings of $70 trillion by 2050, according to the World Bank.
Better access to roads could help Africa to become self-sufficient in food, and create a regional food market worth $1 trillion by the end of the decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how transport is “far more than a means of getting people and goods from A to B”, the UN chief said.
Rather, transport is fundamental to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both of which were “badly off-track” even before the crisis.
The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the door for action is closing, he warned.
“Transport, which accounts for more than one quarter of global greenhouse gases, is key to getting on track. We must decarbonize all means of transport, in order to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 globally.”
A role for everyone
Decarbonizing transportation requires countries to address emissions from shipping and aviation because current commitments are not aligned with the Paris Agreement.
Priorities here include phasing out the production of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040, while zero emission vessels “must be the default choice” for the shipping sector.
“All stakeholders have a role to play, from individuals changing their travel habits, to businesses transforming their carbon footprint,” the Secretary-General said.
He urged governments to incentivize clean transport, for example through regulatory standards and taxation, and to impose stricter regulation of infrastructure and procurement.
Safer transport for all
The issues of safety and access must also be addressed, the Secretary-General continued.
“This means helping more than one billion people to access paved roads, with designated space for pedestrians and bicycles, and providing convenient public transit options,” he said.
“It means providing safe conditions for all on public transport by ending harassment and violence against women and girls, and reducing deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.”
Making transport resilient
Post-pandemic recovery must also lead to resilient transport systems, with investments going towards sustainable transport, and generating decent jobs and opportunities for isolated communities.
“Public transport should be the foundation for urban mobility,” he said. “Per dollar invested, it creates three times more jobs than building new highways.”
With much existing transport infrastructure, such as ports, vulnerable to extreme climate events, better risk analysis and planning are needed, along with increased financing for climate adaptation, particularly in developing countries.
Mr. Guterres stressed the need for effective partnerships, including with the private sector, so that countries can work together more coherently.
“The transformative potential of sustainable transport can only be unleashed if improvements translate into poverty eradication, decent jobs better health and education, and increased opportunities for women and girls. Countries have much to learn from each other,” he said.
Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People’s Republic of China At the Opening Ceremony of The Second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference
14 October 2021
Your Excellency Secretary-General António Guterres, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference and discuss what is important for global transport and development. Let me begin by extending, on behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people and also in my own name, warm congratulations on the convening of the Conference and a hearty welcome to our distinguished guests.
Transport is the artery of the economy and a bond between civilizations. A review of history shows that transport, in the forms of camel caravans and sailing boats on the ancient Silk Road, wave-breaking vessels in the Age of Exploration, and criss-cross transport networks in this modern age, has facilitated economic integration and people-to-people exchanges and turned the world into a close-knit global village.
As we speak, major changes unseen in a century, compounded by a once-in-a-century pandemic, are posing serious challenges to the global efforts of growing the economy and bettering people’s lives. It is imperative that we follow the prevailing trend of world development, advance global transport cooperation, and write a new chapter featuring connectivity of infrastructure, unfettered flows of trade and investment, and interactions between civilizations.
First, we need to uphold open interplay and enhance connectivity. A big river is full when its tributaries are filled with water; and tributaries must be dry when there is no water in the big river. Only with openness, inclusiveness and connectivity can countries reinforce each other’s efforts and achieve win-win results. It is important that we pursue an open world economy, reject discriminatory or exclusive rules and systems, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. We should strengthen both hard connectivity of infrastructure and soft connectivity of institutions and rules, and develop four-dimensional connectivity of land, sea, air and the Internet.
Second, we need to uphold common development and promote fairness and inclusiveness. Only when countries develop together can there be true development; only when countries prosper together can there be true prosperity. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the wealth gap and widened the North-South divide. Uneven development must be addressed before broader prospects for humanity’s common development could be brought about. We should leverage the enabling role of transport and increase related input in poor regions, so that local economies and people’s lives could improve as a result of better roads. We should enhance North-South and South-South cooperation and scale up support for developing transport infrastructure in the least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, in an effort to achieve common prosperity.
Third, we need to uphold an innovation-driven approach and create more drivers for development. Our world is going through a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation. Digital economy, artificial intelligence and other new technologies and new business forms have become strong technological underpinnings for economic and social development. More should be done to develop smart transport and smart logistics and promote deep integration of new technologies like big data, the Internet, artificial intelligence and blockchain with the transport sector, to ensure easier movement of people and smoother flow of goods.
Fourth, we need to uphold ecological conservation as a priority and pursue green and low-carbon development. The only durable way to achieve sustainable development is to establish an economic system for green and low-carbon development and promote green transition in all respects of economic and social development. More efforts are needed to foster a green and low-carbon way of transport, step up green infrastructural development, promote new energy, smart, digital and light-weight transport equipment, and encourage and advocate green travel, to make transport and travel more environment-friendly and low-carbon.
Fifth, we need to uphold multilateralism and improve global governance. We live in a world where the future and destiny of countries are closely linked and their interests entwined like never before. We need to follow the vision of global governance featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, pool the wisdom and strength of all, and mobilize resources from across the globe to meet global challenges and promote global development. We should uphold the authority and status of the United Nations and, in the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, advance cooperation in such areas as poverty reduction, health, transport and logistics, and infrastructural development.
Not long ago, I proposed a Global Development Initiative, which is designed to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promote more robust, greener and more balanced global development, and build a global community of development with a shared future. I hope more will join the Initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
Since the founding of New China, generation after generation of the Chinese people have worked in the spirit of opening roads through mountains and putting bridges over rivers, and turned China into a country with vast transport infrastructure. Today, we are redoubling our efforts to build a country with great transport strength. Convinced that transport should come first, we have built the world’s largest high-speed railway network, expressway network and world-class port clusters. We have opened air and sea routes that reach all parts of the world. We have set up an integrated transport network exceeding six million kilometers. Convinced of the need for innovation, we have achieved major breakthroughs in equipment manufacturing like high-speed trains and large aircraft. We have more than half of the world’s new energy vehicles. Mega transport projects like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Beijing Daxing International Airport have been completed and put into operation. Transport has become a frontier in China’s modernization drive. Convinced of the importance of global connectivity, we have become the economy best connected to the global shipping network and with the highest volume of trade in goods. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the China-Europe Railway Express and ocean-going cargo vessels have been running day and night to keep global industrial and supply chains stable, showcasing China’s sense of responsibility in the global community.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
China will continue to hold high the banner of true multilateralism, and stay connected with the world and abreast with the times. This way, we will contribute more to global development while pursuing our own development.
I wish to reiterate that China will not change course in its pursuit of a new system of open economy of higher standards, and China will not waver in its resolve to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. China’s door of opening-up will only open wider, and will never be closed.
China will continue to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, strengthen infrastructure connectivity with other countries, and develop a green Silk Road and a digital Silk Road at a faster pace. Here I announce that China will set up a Global Innovation and Knowledge Center for Sustainable Transport, as a contribution to global transport development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
Let us stick together on the promising path of connectivity and mutual benefit, jointly build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Let me wish the Conference a full success.
Speech by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov at the Second UN Global Conference on Sustainable Transport
October 14, 2021
Dear Chairman! Dear participants!
First of all, let me express my deep gratitude to the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Mr. Xi Jinping and the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres for the invitation to participate in the second Global Conference on Sustainable Transport.
Turkmenistan is firmly and consistently committed to close and broad international cooperation in the transport sector. I would like to note that it was at the initiative of our country, with the support of the UN and numerous other partners, that the first Global Conference on Sustainable Transport was held in Ashgabat in November 2016. In the course of its work, modern approaches to cooperation that meet objective realities and demands were formulated, long-term plans were outlined, new opportunities were presented, an important Final Document was adopted.
One of the significant practical results of the first Global Conference was the launch of the Ashgabat process, which opens up wide opportunities for the development of multilateral cooperation in the transport sector based on the principles of public-private partnership.
Today, the very fact of holding this forum confirms the continuity and relevance of the then established traditions of a broad dialogue on transport issues as the most important condition for ensuring sustainable global development.
As its consistent supporter and active participant, Turkmenistan at the political level, primarily in the UN, for a number of years has been initiating significant, meaningful and specific resolutions in the field of sustainable transport. During this session of the General Assembly, we will continue to step up efforts to enhance transport resilience in emergencies, building on the General Assembly Resolution “Strengthening Connectivity Between All Modes of Transport to Ensure Stable and Reliable International Transport for Sustainable Development in and After the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) “. Let me remind you that this document was adopted on the initiative of Turkmenistan on July 29 this year.
We also propose to return to the proposal put forward by Turkmenistan earlier on the development of a UN Special Interregional Program for the Development of Transport.
We believe that the goals and objectives of such a program should be formulated on the basis of the successively adopted four resolutions of the General Assembly on the development of international partnerships in the transport sector, the Outcome Document of the first Global Conference on Sustainable Transport in 2016, and other multilateral documents on strengthening transport connectivity at the global level.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in the context of the pandemic, the landlocked developing countries have turned out to be especially vulnerable; first of all, they do not have direct access to the World Oceans.
They were the most affected by the forced restrictions in transport communications. And for the same reason it is more difficult for them to reach the pre-crisis level. We are convinced that today the world community, represented by the UN and international institutions, needs to provide assistance and support to this category of states, including in overcoming the recession and systemic reintegration into world transport processes.
In this regard, while continuing to make our responsible and proactive contribution to maintaining a constructive and focused global dialogue on transport:
Turkmenistan, together with the United Nations, plans to host the International Conference of Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries in April 2022. I ask all interested countries, and international institutions to envisage their participation in the upcoming conference. As co-organizers, we are open to any meaningful initiatives, suggestions and recommendations for its implementation.
Today, more than ever, coordinated, responsible and far-sighted decisions aimed at minimizing the consequences of the crisis, as soon as possible attaining sustainable indicators of economic growth are important. An important prerequisite for this, in our opinion, could be a discussion at the UN level, in parallel with global strategic plans for transport interaction, issues related to the harmonization of norms and rules, simplification of customs and migration procedures, as well as other pressing problems related to international cooperation in the field of transport.
The forms of such a rapprochement, their geographic configuration, speed and modalities can be different. The main thing is that they promote an effective partnership, taking into account mutual interests, and contribute to global plans for sustainable development.
And of course, they would be free from politicization.
Turkmenistan confirms its adherence to these goals and principles, and is ready for the closest constructive cooperation for their early implementation.
Thank you for your attention and wish all the conference participants success and fruitful work.
Global transport at a crossroads: UN Conference to advance action on zero emission vehicles, boost economy and reduce inequalities
Move to sustainable transport can deliver savings of US$70 trillion by 2050
Beijing, China, 14 October — To ensure the rapid development and deployment of new and innovative transport solutions to meet the climate crisis and spearhead action towards affordable and accessible transport for all, the UN Sustainable Transport Conference in Beijing, China, will begin today with government leaders, industry experts, and civil society groups charting a sustainable pathway forward.
While science shows that urgent action is needed to keep the 1.5°C temperature limit within reach to prevent greater climate impacts, the world is still grappling with COVID-19, which has disrupted global supply chains, reversed years of development progress and has pushed around 120 million people back into poverty. The UN Sustainable Transport Conference, taking place from 14 to 16 October will seek to provide concrete solutions for how we plan and design transport systems to ensure the pathway to achieving sustainable transport — transport that is safe, accessible, green and resilient — is at the scale and speed required.
While there is increasing recognition that sustainable transport can spur economic growth and protect the environment — global sales of electric vehicles grew from 1.3 million in 2015 to 5.1 million in 2018 — progress has been slow and unequal.
According to the World Bank, a transition to sustainable mobility could deliver savings of US$70 trillion by 2050, when considering full transport costs, including vehicles, fuel, operational expenses, and losses due to congestion. Better access to roads could help Africa become self-sufficient in food and create a regional food market worth $1 trillion by 2030.
“Efforts to accelerate the sustainable transformation of the transport sector are essential to reduce climate -causing emissions and improve the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere,” said Liu Zhenmin, Under Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Conference Secretary-General. “The Sustainable Transport Conference in Beijing will sharpen our focus on transport, an area where global efforts can make a deep impact across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.”
While transport is a core driver for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides communities with an opportunity to access employment, health care services and attend schools, current systems of mobility present a number of challenges.
Transport is one of the single largest contributors to air and carbon pollution emissions globally, also accounting for about 64% of total oil consumption and 27% of all energy use. Over 1 billion people worldwide still lack adequate access to an all-weather road, especially in developing countries, including countries in special situations. In Africa, 450 million people, more than 70% of the total rural population, remain unconnected to transport infrastructure and systems. Whereas road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.
The UN Sustainable Transport Conference comes at a pivotal moment in the lead up to the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. The Sustainable Transport Conference will provide an opportunity to stress the urgency of overhauling transport systems to respond to the climate crisis as well as the criticality of sustainable transport for spurring economic growth and empowering vulnerable populations through better access to healthcare, education, and jobs. Governments, businesses, and experts in the transport field will gather at the Conference to discuss the challenges and opportunities as well as solutions that exist to supercharge the transition to sustainable transport.
Countries, businesses and communities are using the power of technology and innovation to improve their transport systems and make them more sustainable. From the volocopter, an all-electric air taxi in Germany to electrified bus networks in China to the rapid sale growth of electric vehicles in the United States, a transport revolution has begun. The COVID-19 pandemic has also prompted many cities to build more bicycle lanes and G20 countries have committed over $284 billion to the mobility industry.
However, the transition to sustainable transport in some places risks leaving many other countries and vulnerable communities behind. To ensure sustainable transport benefits everyone would require investments in technology and innovation, especially for developing countries. Enabling policy environments, measures that promote road safety infrastructure and proper city design planning would also be key to paving the way for sustainable transport globally.
All modes of transport — road, rail, aviation and waterborne — will be discussed at the Conference, which will be a hybrid of online and in-person events. It will consist of plenary sessions, a Ministers Forum, a Business Forum and a Science, Engineering and Technology Forum. Its six thematic sessions will include discussions on the contributions sustainable transport can make to economic recovery, creating livelihoods and to climate change mitigation. The Conference will culminate in new partnerships, commitments and initiatives to further advance sustainable transport.
Transport essential to achieve Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable transport, covered in several SDG targets, acts as a cross-cutting facilitator, critical for the achievement of many, if not all, of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This led to the first UN Sustainable Transport Conference , held in 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and the Beijing Conference is expected to advance action to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentand the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Follow the Conference on UN WebTV
Link to the Interagency Report on Sustainable Transport: it.ly/transportreportUN
Hashtag: #SustainableTransport /// nCa, 15 October 2021 (texts from UN, China Daily, TDH)