HLP Panel Report on Post 2015 Development Agenda Fails to Provide Transformative Guidance for Sustainable Transport

Initial review on how sustainable transport is integrated in: A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development 

The overarching vision of the outcome document of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) on the post-2015 development framework reads: “Our vision and our responsibility are to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place building blocks of sustained prosperity for all”.”

The HLP recommends 5 big transformative shifts: (1) Leave no one behind, (2) Put sustainable transport at the core, (3) Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth, (4) Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all, and (5) Forge a new global partnership.

The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) (www.slocat.net) is the largest multi-stakeholder partnership on sustainable transport and was instrumental in raising the profile of sustainable transport at the Rio+20 Conference by mobilizing Voluntary Commitments on Sustainable Transport valued at over $175 billion. This made the transport sector by far the largest sector in terms of voluntary commitments.

The SLoCaT Partnership acknowledges and congratulates the HLP on the references that pervade the document illustrating how critically important transport is to sustainable development. At the same time the SLoCaT Partnership is concerned that the report fails to outline how current motorization patterns undermine economic, social and environmental sustainability of development. We are especially concerned that the report ignores new insights on how transport can best contribute to sustainable development.  In short, the recommendations of the report on transport are not transformative and fail to give guidance to the transport  sector how it can put sustainable development at the core of its much needed development and realize its potential as  a building block of sustained prosperity for all.

 Acknowledgement of the role of transport

The report outlines for several key sectors (health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation and energy) what their contribution is to sustainable development. All of these sectors are represented through an illustrative goal.  Transport is a key exception and is mentioned merely as an enabler of other goals (Secure Sustainable Energy and Create Jobs, Sustainable Livelihoods, and Equitable Growth).  While mentioned in the text in relationship to Food Security and Good Nutrition transport does not appear as a related target and is only mentioned in the explanatory text on the Food Security and Good Nutrition target.

 At no point does the report refer to the negative impact that current motorization patterns have on development. In the absence of a people-centered approach to transportation air pollution and road traffic injury (neither referred to in the report) in several cases currently take away several percentage points of economic growth, undermining development objectives and contributing to poverty. Additionally, the human cost – the impacts on health and education particularly in low- and middle-income countries – are an unacceptable burden on society.

A dated understanding of transport

Within the transport community there is a growing awareness that the development of transport infrastructure is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure that people have access to goods and services.  For example, many roads have been built in African cities, without adequate facilities to protect pedestrians yet 50% of the trips are still done on foot. This is key considering the priority attached by the HLP to inclusive growth.  The report generally refers to building infrastructure without clearly differentiating between transport infrastructure and transport services.  It ignores the key role that transport plays in shaping cities and thereby the ensuing sustainability or lack thereof.

Target 8c.  speaks about ‘strengthening productive capacity by providing universal access to financial services and infrastructure, such as transportation and ICT.’ However, to achieve development objectives as proposed by the HLP, this must be planned and managed with a sustainable, safe and people-centered approach. Infrastructure that is ‘reliable’ and ‘adequate’ must also be safe and sustainable.

The report in Annex IV: Summary of Outreach Efforts makes reference to the new thinking on transport when it makes reference to the recommendation  ‘The Avoid-Shift-Improve’ approach is introduced in the transport sector.  Unfortunately this recommendation coming out of the consultation approach was not taken up in the main report, nor in the proposed goals or targets.

Transport and Climate Change

The report’s approach to reducing GHG emissions from transport is mainly focusing on direct reduction of energy consumption, e.g. clean transport; or energy efficiency in transport.  There are some references to mass transit and sustainable transport infrastructure but it would be hard to deduct from these references how the transport sector can make substantive progress in mitigating dangerous climate change. The global transport community increasingly acknowledges the need to reduce unnecessary transport activity and to shift transport to the most effective modes, which in the case of passenger transport are walking and cycling or public transport and in the case of freight is transport railways and in-land water transport. This, in addition to improving the environmental performance of the transport sector through improved vehicle and fuel technologies.

Transport and Global Partnership

The report ignores the progress made by the transport sector in establishing a multi-stakeholder partnership at the global level.  Examples are given from a range of sectors except for transport. Yet, transport as a community managed to deliver the largest Voluntary Commitments at Rio+20.  It had been expected that the HLP report  by acknowledging these efforts of the transport sector would help to accelerate the promotion  and scaling up of sustainable transport.


The ‘A New Global Partnership’ report explains to how transport can contribute to the development of certain developmental agenda’s but fails to present a transformative agenda how the transport sector can improve its economic, social and environmental sustainability.


[1] See http://www.slocat.net/rio20-VC or http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1570