Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport

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Sustainable Development Goals & Transport

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On 1 January 2016, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in September 2015, officially came into force. The 2030 Agenda is a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets stimulating actions to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As one of the most important roadmaps guiding policy actions for sustainable development in the next 15 years, the 2030 Agenda mobilizes efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that "no one is left behind".

Although sustainable transport is not represented by a standalone SDG in the 2030 Agenda, it is mainstreamed in a direct or indirect manner into many of the proposed SDGs, especially those related to food security, health, energy, infrastructure, cities and human settlements, and climate change. Transport services and infrastructure are essential to achieving most, if not all, SDGs:

Transport-Relevant SDG Targets

The 2030 Agenda states that “sustainable transport systems, along with universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services, quality and resilient infrastructure, and other policies that increase productive capacities, would build strong economic foundations for all countries” (para 27). The text includes five targets that are directly related to the transport sector and seven other targets that are indirectly related to the transport sector.

Transport contributes directly to five targets on road safety (Target 3.6); energy efficiency (Target 7.3); sustainable infrastructure (Target 9.1), urban access (Target 11.2), and fossil fuel subsidies (Target 12.c) emphasize that sustainable transport is not needed solely for its own sake, but rather is essential to facilitate the achievement of a wide variety of SDGs.

Transport also contributes indirectly to seven SDG targets on agricultural productivity (Target 2.3), air pollution (Target 3.9), access to safe drinking water (Target 6.1), sustainable cities (Target 11.6), reduction of food loss (Target 12.3), climate change adaptation (Target 13.1), and climate change mitigation (Target 13.2).

Transport-Relevant SDG Indicators

The Inter-agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has been tasked to develop a solid framework of indicators and statistical data to monitor progress, inform policy and ensure accountability of all stakeholders. Transport is directly related to five SDG indicators in the final list from the IAEG-SDGs:

The SLoCaT Partnership has contributed to the IAEG-SDGs process with the following submissions:

During the development of the SDG indicators, the SLoCaT Partnership conducted reviews of the indicators for sustainable, low carbon transport and compiled studies on the proposed indicators:

Tracking, Reporting, and Reviewing SDGs

The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development is the United Nations central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. The Forum will review the SDGs under the following schedule:

  • 2017: Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 (Transport relevance: rural transport, air pollution and public health, transport equity, sustainable transport infrastructure for all);
  • 2018: Goals 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15 (Transport relevance: transport energy efficiency, urban transport, rural transport and food waste);
  • 2019: Goals 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16 (Transport relevance: access to education and employment, climate change).

Countries are invited to submit Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) in which they analyze the implications of the 2030 Agenda and the relationship between the SDGs and targets and their national priorities.

The VNRs offer a unique opportunity to increase ambitious actions in the transport sector to implement the 2030 Agenda. The SLoCaT Partnership has prepared a document to assess the treatment of sustainable transport in the 22 VNRs submitted in 2016. The analysis shows that among the 22 VNRs submitted in 2016, 14 VNRs (64%) make direct reference to the transport. VNRs have provided opportunities for countries to identify good practices and actions in various transport sub-sectors to address a number of environment and sustainability issues, such as mitigation and GHG emissions reduction, access and mobility, connectivity and economic development, financing, road safety, and adaptation.

While these transport references help to establish linkages with 8 out of the 17 SDGs, the majority of these references are descriptive statements on the importance of sustainable transport. Only a minority (18% of all VNRs submitted in 2016) have set specific targets for sustainable transport development and the number of concrete policy actions and measures in the VNRs is also limited.

Key findings and recommendations of the VNR analysis is available here. For more information, please see:

Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport
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