The International Road Federation (IRF) just concluded a successful and engaging week at the PIARC World Road Congress 2023. The event was attended by road experts, industry leaders, and stakeholders from around the world, providing a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration.
IRF’s participation in the congress was marked by the hosting and contribution to a series of foresight sessions, workshops, and technical sessions. IRF joined high-level speakers from key organisations and international experts to address a wide range of topics, including road safety, connected mobility, rural roads, EV charging, digitalisation, inclusion and diversity, and much more.
A high-level session organised by the CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, titled “Latin American and Caribbean Rural Roads: a Gateway to Development” discussed the extensive social benefits generated by rural road programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean. As reminded by Nicolas Peltier, Global Director of Transport at the World Bank, one billion people in the world today still lack access to all-weather roads. The Ministers of Public Works from Paraguay and Panama, alongside directors of governmental entities from Colombia, Chile, and Brazil, all shared their experience and stressed the importance of prioritising rural access in development strategies in order to alleviate poverty and improve food security. Joining this distinguished panel, IRF DG illustrated the IRF-ORIS-UNIDO partnership as an example of an innovative financing mechanism that is made possible thanks to the savings realised through the application of digital technologies to our sector.
The revolution brought in by digital technologies was central to the IRF-Oris workshop “Building a Climate-responsive Road Sector” hosted on 4 October. The workshop welcomed sustainability and digitalisation experts from AECOM, ADB, IRF, and Oris to explore how digital solutions can support the road sector to both mitigate its carbon footprint and anticipate climate change impacts to avoid early repairs.
On 4 October, IRF also hosted together with the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) a Foresight Session on “Mobilising Investments and Partnerships for Road Safety Impact”. The session brought together a diverse panel of experts representing various organisations, including IRF, iRAP, the UNRSF, IFC, UNOPS, Aleatica, and the ADB. Together, they explored the business case for investments in safer roads and mechanisms by which the investments and partnerships – necessary to achieve the target of the Decade of Action – can be mobilised.
In partnership with the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR) IRF hosted on 5 October another Foresight Session under the theme “Physical & Digital Infrastructure for Large-Scale CCAM Adoption”. Speakers from AASHTO, AGENTSCHAP WEGEN & VERKEER, Trafikverket, SWARCO, MAPtm, Autostrade per l’italia and the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) joined the stage to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with Connected, Cooperative, and Automated Mobility (CCAM). In particular, this session discussed how combining automated mobility with road infrastructure can improve safety, sustainability, and efficiency. It also examined why road authorities should invest in this integration, drawing on examples from the US and Europe to address the needs of infrastructure owners and operators for the future.
The final day of the Congress featured a Foresight Session conducted by IRF in collaboration with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The session, titled “Managing the Energy Transition: Scaling Up Deployment of EV Charging Infrastructure” examined the crucial role of infrastructure in supporting the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Experts from the World Bank, CEDR, ARUP, PIARC, ADM, IM Technologies Limited, Vinci Autoroutes, ADB, and the FHWA discussed: the business case for electric mobility and how it articulates in different regions of the world; the role that charging infrastructure plays and can play in accelerating the transition to electric mobility; actions that governments and financial institutions can take to facilitate and scale-up equitable deployment.
Additionally, IRF contributed to discussions at various other activities, including a side event organised by the China Highway and Transportation Society (CHTS) on “Sustainable Development and Innovation of Transport Infrastructure in the Context of Global Climate Change”; the iRAP Innovation Workshop, and the PIARC Foresight Session on “A Gender Inclusive Transport“.
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