IRF Executives Talks with Dan Chen



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IRF Executives Talks with Dan Chen

July 13, 2021 @ 3:00 pm 3:30 pm CEST

Private Sector Contribution to Road Safety

Dan Chen, President at 3M Road Safety Division was hosted by IRF on 13 July for one of the IRF Executives Talks, a series of 30-minute talks launched by the IRF to get insights from CEOs and High-Level Executives of the world’s most innovative and influential companies and organisation from our industry. The conversation had a strong focus on Private Sector and its contribution to Road Safety and overall to the SDGs.

The Stockholm Ministerial Declaration, the latest UN road safety resolution, the current draft of the Decade of Action Plan, they all make reference to the important contribution that the private sector can make to road safety. But how to spell out that contribution?

Dan Chen highlighted three things where the private sector can really make a difference: the change in behaviour and raising codes of practice; value-based investing; and developing business models around safety.

“The first thing is that the private sector is good at is changing behavior and raising codes of practice. The private sector can play a role in making road safety a priority. For example, if we uniformly implemented safety criteria in our procurement, our own fleets, our freight and supplier base, it could have a significant impact. Secondly, the private sector plays a role in establishing values-based investing, that is looking at the economic, environmental and societal impact of companies. If we look at environmental sustainability, it is amazing to watch the transformation with shareholders about wanting to invest in environmentally sustainable companies. What if we were able to make investing in societal good, inequality, road safety, public health, reach that same stature? There are some lessons to be learned.”

Dan Chen stressed that “the private sector can play a catalyzing role in developing business models and an ecosystem that revolve around safety”. “It starts with inventing products and solutions that improve road safety and creating markets for those products and solutions. But that is not enough, we need to create a safety ecosystem with regulators, government agencies, banks, and technology providers to that ecosystem. With the right business model, then it becomes self-sustaining.”

Chen pointed out that in a certain way, we are seeing sustainability, at least in the sense of environmental sustainability, running ahead of where we are in road safety. Green bonds are an example, where it was just an idea few years ago and is now a $650 billion market. “Safety plays a role in sustainability as well, linked to transportation equity. I am glad to see that part of the agenda for the UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference to be hosted in October”

The discussion continued on the subject of partnerships and their role on the making of markets that create safety value: “Markets are driven by value creation, and the role of the multiplicity of players will be important.”.

Biography of Mr. Dan ChenPresident, 3M Transportation Safety Division 

Dan Chen is President of 3M’s Transportation Safety Division. 3M is a Fortune 500 diverse manufacturing company that applies science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily. As a senior leader, Dan drives global growth for 3M in the road safety and infrastructure industry. Dan is passionate about road safety and Vision Zero initiatives to reduce the 1.35 million roadway fatalities every year. He frequently engages with transportation authorities, mobility companies and development banks around the world on topics including strategies for safer roads, and trends that impact the future of transportation including connected and automated vehicles, urbanization and micro-mobility.

His professional experience includes research and product development, marketing, and business development, strategy and management. Dan is co-inventor on 11 filed or issued patents for 3M, including the largest unit volume disposable respirator design on the market globally today

Dan is a member of the Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Council on Connected and Automated Vehicles, a board member of the non-profit Sustainable Resources Center in Minneapolis, and advisory board member of Texas Transportation Institute and Voi Mobility Safety Council. He holds B.S and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin respectively, and an Executive MBA from INSEAD in Fountainebleau, France. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Minnesota.

Personal interests for Dan include team sports including soccer and hockey, and alpine, Nordic and water skiing. He resides in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife Cornelia and two teenaged sons.

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