Driving Sustainability: The 15th Regional EST Forum in Asia

Driving Sustainability: The 15th Regional EST Forum in Asia

Asia, a region with 58% of the world’s population and a significant contributor to global GDP at 48%, grapples with a pronounced transport infrastructure gap. Despite its economic significance, Asia possesses only a fraction of the global road and rail supply. Overcoming this infrastructure gap is paramount for Asia’s continued economic progress and its relentless pursuit of poverty reduction. Developing safe, clean, and accessible transport infrastructure is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In this context, the High-Level 15th Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum was held on 24-26 October in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, under the theme of “Investing in Sustainable Transport: Catalysing Economic and Social Development in the SDG Era”. The Forum gathered key stakeholders in the transportation sector from Asia and across the world to showcase the manifold economic, social, and environmental benefits stemming from the implementation of the Aichi 2030 Declaration on Environmentally Sustainable Transport (2021-2030). The forum also served as a platform to develop an Implementation plan for the Aichi 2030 Declaration while addressing the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in the transportation sector.

Key Policy Recommendations

The International Road Federation (IRF) played a pivotal role in the programme of the Forum with the participation of IRF Senior Programme Manager and Head of Statistics, Julia Funk. In a first instance, Ms Funk joined an esteemed panel of speakers in Plenary Session 6 aiming at reviewing Goal 6 of the Aichi 2030 Declaration “National Access and Connectivity”. In her presentation, she unveiled a series of policy recommendations crafted to enable the practical implementation of the road component of Goal 6 within the Aichi 2030 Declaration. These recommendations were a result of a report which IRF authored in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the SuM4All partnership, the High Volume Transport Applied Research (HVT) Programme and TRL.

Key policy recommendations encompassed the strengthening of road assessment management​, enhancing road networks and transport services​, harmonising rural and transport planning, promoting more sustainable and green initiatives, monitoring and evaluating the development of initiatives, and improving resilience and disaster preparedness​. The full list of recommendations is available here.

IRF Advancing the SDGs

During another plenary session, along other key organisations in the sector, Ms Funk made valuable contributions sharing a series of strategic activities the IRF is working on to bolster the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some of the activities introduced were:

  • The LEARN Project: a joint initiative of the IRF and the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety aiming to enhance the data knowledge, skills, and actions of a selected group of road safety professionals and stakeholders via a hands-on, real-time and contextual capacity development process.  
  • The Ten Step Plan for Safer Road Infrastructure: the pilot of which was implemented by IRF, iRAP and UNECA in Tanzania to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries by building the institutional capacity and regulatory framework, and the approach with concrete action on planned and/or existing road projects, soon to be rolled out in more countries.
  • The Road Sector Join Statement for COP27: published along with ASECAP, IRU, ARMFA, ERTICO, ERF and ITA-AITES to restate the sector’s firm commitment to effectively reduce CO2 emissions to net-zero by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement, calling for action that is pragmatic, ensures a just transition and embraces innovation. 
  • The Oris-UNIDO Partnership: a groundbreaking initiative in collaboration with the IRF to optimise large road infrastructure projects and the delivery of sustainable and inclusive rural roads.

IRF’s involvement at the Forum underscored the Federation’s commitment to delivering efficient, sustainable, and inclusive transportation systems to advance the SDGs.

H.E. Loke Siew Fook, Minister of Transport, Government of Malaysia
Julia Funk – Senior Programme Manager & Head of Statistics, IRF

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