On 3 December 2021, a one-day event took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in preparation for the General Assembly High-level Meeting on Global Road Safety that will be held on 30 June and 1 July 2022. Convening dignitaries and high-level speakers, the event was articulated around two main parts: the first one dedicated to an interactive thematic dialogue on investment in road safety, and the second reserved to an interactive multi-stakeholder exchange.
The first session held two panels, one on domestic financing and another on private and international financing. With the participation of ministers and other dignitaries from around the world, this panel discussed the funding needed to meet the global target of a 50% reduction in road traffic deaths by 2030 and how to provide access to safe and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030. Current domestic and international investments in transportation were also discussed and evaluated.
Dagamawit Moges, Ethiopian Minister of Transport, shared how Ethiopia is managing domestic finance for a Road Safety and Insurance Fund Service Regulation that allocates at least 5% of road fund fees to emergency medical services for a post-crash response. Ms. Moges called for road safety as a critical investment globally, but especially in Africa. Strategies for transportation funding in the short-term (from the private sector and international agencies as well as other stakeholders) and how to more sustainably fund transportation systems in the long term were discussed as well.
Intervening at the end of the first panel on domestic financing, IRF Director General, Susanna Zammataro stressed that many of the opening interventions were passionate calls for more action and commitment and that very often what translates words into action is leadership. She urged invited ministers to show their leadership by coming to the High-Level Meeting next year together with their finance minister and prime minister and commit to do what is needed and “bring the private sector with you” she added.
“We have evidence-based solutions to solve this problem. There’s tremendous expertise available. Help us to help you and your people” she said.
Ms. Zammataro concluded by addressing a question “ (…) to Ministers who sit in governments, especially to those who have succeeded in mobilizing adequate state budget for road safety, what advice do you give to those countries where RS is not yet seen as a MUST but as a hard choice to make: so either I invest in safety or I invest in something else”.
“How have you succeeded in getting out of that corner and false debate?” she asked.
Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy for the African Union, responded that incentives and opportunities for the private sector are crucial. Saul Antonio Castelar Contreras, Vice Minister of Transport for El Salvador, stressed the importance of showing evidence-based results. Andy Fillmore, a Canadian member of Parliament asserted that government engagement with the public is instrumental in persuading those that are not yet persuaded to invest in road safety.
The second session featured panels on the role of the private sector, civil society, academia, and youth in road safety engagement as well as the role of governments, regional integration bodies, the UN and other international organisations. These panellists emphasized the importance of governments working together with non-state actors for better road safety. The role of academic institutions in gathering research and filling in knowledge gaps about road safety, the role of the youth and civil society in advocating for better road safety, and the importance of private corporations applying the safe system approach and reporting on their safety performance and sustainability were discussed.