Regaining trust and confidence to boost the economy and to recover from the pandemic
The world has been hit by an unprecedented pandemic which has caused an economic recession and struck all economic sectors in Europe and the rest of the world, including the road infrastructure sectors, very hard.
The Association Européenne des Concessionaires d’Autoroutes et d’Ouvrages à Péage (ASECAP) hosted its 48th ASECAP Days in a fully digital format on 10 November 2021, welcoming over 200 participants from 17 countries. Some of the key topics addressed: Infrastructure Financing, Sustainable Transport Solutions, Road Safety, CCAM, Emerging Technologies, and R&D Road Infrastructure Projects.
The 48th ASECAP Study & information days focussed on lessons learned and on how to enhance safe mobility solutions that can boost the economy and recovery from the pandemic crisis, by stimulating investments aimed at reaching the EU objectives of vision zero in terms of road traffic fatalities and of CO2 emissions.
IRF President, Bill Halkias, joined a group of high-level speakers for the political panel on “EU Green Deal: Accelerating mobility project delivery that meet climate change challenges targeting carbon-free emission with sustainable funding and investments”.
Halkias put forward three key points:
1. Supporting economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic means – among others – providing adequate access to opportunity via an efficient transport network and keeping in mind local context while doing so.
“Solutions vary of course across countries, depending on the local context and priorities. Local context does matter as for example, in areas where access remains a challenge and infrastructure is insufficient, the emphasis may be on expanding and upgrading transport networks, both within and between countries. This is still the case for large parts of Europe and we have pointed out this during the recent public consultation on the Transport Lending Policy of the European Investment Bank” he said.
2. Repurposing of roads and rehabilitation of roads should be central in any recovery, growth, or climate transition strategy. “They serve both the decarbonization agenda and the road safety agenda” Halkias stressed. He made reference in particular to the importance of safe mobility & transport as an enabler of Sustainable Development Goals.
“The solutions to save lives exist, but there is currently a significant underfunding of infrastructure
s for road safety. We need more targeted investments for new and upgraded infrastructure. Safe roads will save lives, save money, and will create jobs.” he added.
Unprecedented challenges require unprecedented solutions. Mr. Halkias pointed out the need for innovative financing in order to make an impact and the role that public and private partnerships will play in this context.
3. In his third and final point, Mr. Halkias stressed that an integrated and efficient transport system is THE response to the challenges that the road transportation sector is facing.
In this respect, he recalled that the International Road Federation is fully aligned with the vision that underpins the Sustainable Mobility for All Initiative led by the Work Bank. It is a vision that sees the avoid-shift-improve approach having a central role. Avoid or reduce travel, Shift to more energy-efficient modes, Improve efficiency through technology. “A vision built around four key pillars of sustainable transport: universal access, efficiency, safety, and green mobility. Each of these aspects bolsters the commitment to leave no one behind, including vulnerable groups, such as the poor, women, children and youth, the elderly, and persons with disabilities” concluded Halkias.