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SLoCaT gives policy recommendations to EST Forum on a Follow-Up Agreement to the Bangkok Declaration for 2020

The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport has released a background policy paper for the Intergovernmental 10th Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia, which took place from March 14 to 16, 2017 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The paper, “2030 Roadmap for Sustainable Transport in Asia: Aligning Government Policies with Sustainable Development Goals,” explores the critical role of sustainable transport to implement the seven global agreements adopted in the recent years, analyzes how the Bangkok Declaration for 2020 provides opportunities for EST member countries to implement these global agreements, and provides recommendations for the EST Forum to structure the process over the next there years to develop a follow-up agreement to the Bangkok Declaration.

Adequate, efficient, affordable, safe, low-carbon and climate resilient transport services and infrastructures are important enabling conditions to achieve the goals for sustainable development and climate change under a number of global agreements. Before the adoption of these global agreements, the Bangkok Declaration for 2020 was adopted in 2010 at the Fifth EST Forum by 22 Asian countries. Aiming to achieve sustainable transport in Asia from 2010 to 2020, the Bangkok Declaration was an unprecedented regional commitment with a concrete set of 20 goals categorized under the Avoid-Shift-Improve framework to serve as a recommended set of benchmarks among Asian countries for their overall decisions in transport policy, planning, and development. The importance and value added of the Bangkok Declaration and the EST process include:

  • The EST Forum was a trendsetter in bringing Transport and Environment Ministries together in a time that this was not common practice. This was reinforced later by adding Health Ministries;
  • The Bangkok Declaration was one of the first efforts to develop an integrated approach to transport policy making, especially in the context of the developing world;
  • The development of indicators for the 20 goals under the Bangkok declaration was groundbreaking in providing countries with a clear sense of direction in the planning of their transport sector. 

The overall global and regional policy landscape on sustainable transport has advanced considerably since the adoption of the Bangkok 2020 Declaration in 2010. The various global agreements on sustainable development and climate change described in this document all are dated 2015 and 2016 (with the exception of the Global Decade of Action on Road Safety, which was set up in 2010). Several of the global agreements had predecessor agreements, but in general, transport was not well integrated in these predecessor agreements and these earlier agreements also did not provide a comprehensive, inclusive vision on sustainable transport. The various global agreements have, or are putting in place, reporting requirements on various dimensions of sustainable transport. At the global level, the transport community is coming together in the Sustainable Mobility for All (SUM4All) Initiative, which amongst its objectives has the development of a common narrative and a Global Tracking Framework for Sustainable Transport.

The paper indicates that while policy is important, the actual on-the-ground transport situation needs to be the most important criterion while discussing the future of the EST Forum and the follow-up to the Bangkok Declaration for 2020. The continued need to improve access and sustainability of transport in Asia merits a detailed discussion over the next years to extend the EST Forum beyond 2020 and also a discussion on an overarching framework similar to the Bangkok Declaration for 2020. It will be important to build on the strengths of the Bangkok Declaration for 2020 and address its shortcomings, while taking account of the positive changes in policy environment that have taken place in recent years.

In discussing the future of the EST Forum and the possible follow-up to the Bangkok Declaration for 2020, it is suggested to include, amongst others, the following questions and issues:

  • The overall orientation of the EST Forum
  • Integration of sub-national entities in the EST Forum
  • Positioning vis-à-vis global agreements on sustainable development and climate change
  • Coordination with and complementarity to other intergovernmental processes on sustainable transport
  • “Nesting” of the EST Forum into global SuM4All initiative
  • Shifting the emphasis towards implementation
  • Role of non-government actors in the EST Forum and their support for implementation of successor to the Bangkok 2020 Declaration
  • Continuation and possible widening of donor support for the EST Forum and successor to Bangkok Declaration for 2020

The current Bangkok Declaration will come to an end in 2020. A 10-year declaration has worked well in the case of the Bangkok Declaration for 2020. It is suggested that the follow-up agreement to Bangkok Declaration for 2020 be another 10-year agreement that is closely aligned with the global agreements.

Developing ideas and recommendations on a follow-up for the Bangkok Declaration for 2020 should be done in a participatory and inclusive manner. It is clear that the Secretariat of the EST Forum will have a lead role in this. However, to ensure that countries, which are the principle owners of the EST Forum, are fully engaged and informed, it is proposed to set up a small ad-hoc taskforce that would consist of a maximum of seven members from EST country representatives, Ministry of Environment Japan, UNESCAP, and NGOs.

The full paper is available here.

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The Intergovernmental Tenth Regional EST Forum in Asia under the theme "2030 Road Map for Sustainable Transport ~ Aligning with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)" was held from 14 to 16 March 2017 in Vientiane, Lao PDR with more than 500 participants, including senior government representatives from Asia and the Pacific countries, city mayors, and international experts. The EST Forum aimed to identify how Asian EST member countries can contribute in achieving the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development through their sustainable transport solutions and actions. It also provides a platform for countries to review and evaluate the progress, initiatives, achievements and best practices in addressing the Goals of the Bangkok 2020 Declaration. For more information, please go to here

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