SLOCAT Vision for Transport Transformations

Transport enables prosperity and livelihoods. But current paradigms of how people and goods are moved and how transport systems are powered also bring growing emissions, air pollution and energy demand. To achieve decarbonised and sustainability pathways, we need drastic reductions in emissions and energy demand coupled with improved access to integrated land transport systems that do not use fossil fuels.

Our vision for land transport articulates the systemic transformations needed to get there in a just transition with people-centred and planet-sensitive approaches. In alignment with SLOCAT’s mission, we focus on land transport. But this does not imply that the world can afford to disregard the impact of maritime transport and aviation towards decarbonisation and sustainability goals.

SLOCAT champions frameworks that, while guaranteeing access to transport and mobility:

Avoid unnecessary motorised trips, based on proximity and accessibility.

Shift to less carbon-intensive modes – that is, from private vehicles to public transport, shared mobility, walking and cycling, water-based freight, electrified road-rail freight, and cargo bikes for last- mile deliveries, among others.

Improve vehicle design, energy efficiency and clean energy sources for different types of freight and passenger vehicles.

Our Vision

To achieve this, the following systemic transformations in land transport are needed. They will also leverage wider socio-economic transformations.

We define equitable, healthy, green and resilient transport and mobility systems based on the positive interactions with the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

Transport connects people and prosperous societies, and works for them as a system of multiple modes and services.

Digital technologies increase access and transport efficiency.

Cities are compact and managed to maximise access to socio-economic opportunities, health and equity for all.

Pricing and fiscal policy guide market forces and, together with finance, channel public and private funds towards the most sustainable transport services.

Rural and interurban mobility services are low in emissions and focus on users’ needs to improve access.

Freight systems efficiently combine different low-carbon modes, share capacities and rely on sustainable first and last mile delivery.

Walking, cycling and public transport get priority.

Industry, trade and transport are shaped to support a circular economy, local value creation, and short and resilient logistic chains.

Well-managed transport demand reduces kilometres and car use.

Transport systems and services are resilient in extreme weather events and other shocks.

Electrification drives low carbon land transport and puts the most sustainable modes first.

Click on the icons to read the details of each of the key transformations

Overarching Approaches

These Overarching Approaches provide general guidance to help deliver on the Transformations. They can be applied across transport modes and sub-sectors overtime, and beyond transport.

Put people first, not technology

Transport policy must always put people first, both in the passenger and freight sectors. While some technologies can be tempting for their ingenuity, they may be expensive, not match societies’ needs, and lead to increased inequity and inequality. Sound policy-making should therefore not ask what is technologically possible, but how technology can improve equity in access to sustainable low-carbon transport and mobility.

Co-create and communicate a compelling vision and targets

A compelling vision of the future is a strong driver for mobilising and aligning stakeholders around a common objective. It gives coherence to different measures; links action in the present to specific positive outcomes in the future, and illustrates the benefits of an equitable, healthy, green, and resilient transport system. To inform, engage  and inspire people and to develop a shared sense of ownership, participatory approaches and discussion among a broad community of stakeholders is necessary. Breaking the vision down into intermediate targets enables progress to be achieved and measured, while demonstrating determination. 

Guide short- and medium-term action with clear, coherent policies and messages

Stakeholders and investors require clarity to plan their actions and investments accordingly. Therefore, policy must send clear market signals and provide a reliable and stable framework to support the evolution of a sustainable mobility sector. For example, changes in pricing, regulation, and political priorities need to be communicated ahead of time, and transitory phases need to be defined. With clarity and coherence, businesses can contribute to and benefit from new sustainable transport solutions.

Coordinate and synergise policies across transport and with other sectors

Efficient transport systems should have a coherent set of policies across sub-sectors and modes, benefit from complementarity of policies in other sectors. Transport policy impacts and is impacted by policies in many other sectors, coordinated policy means lower costs and more and faster impact.  Priority areas include health, urban planning and rural development, energy, among others and should be aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (see SDG Wheel above).

Prioritise action by social and environmental value for money

The overall shift towards sustainable and inclusive societies  requires a broader perspective than the traditional cost-benefit analyses of the past. Accounting for social and environmental externalities (both positive and negative) in economic appraisals is crucial to overcoming short-termism and one-sided decision-making. Looking at investments through this lens will enable funds to flow to solutions that have the biggest return in terms of social and environmental development – now and for future generations – and deliver the greatest benefit at the lowest cost for society as a whole.

Engage, empower and coordinate stakeholders across levels of government and sectors

Governments’ responsibilities for the transport sector are spread across the national, regional and local levels. While transport decisions are often made at the local level, the legal framework for local decision-making is many times defined at the national level or even international level. Transport services and policies must be compatible and strategically integrated from the local to the national, in some cases even international level. Therefore, a large number of stakeholders, both public and private, need to be engaged and aligned vertically and horizontally, and empowered with the capacities and resources needed to take the right action.

Build capacity to improve knowledge and data

Sustainable, low carbon transport requires new capacities and knowledge to act and data to support good decision-making. The transformation of the sector must therefore be accompanied by support for enhanced capacity in the public, private and academic sectors, through activities such as professional training, decision making support and adapted curricula. International support, for example, can contribute to building capacity and knowledge at the national and sub-national levels in streamlining approaches to collect, share and analyse data. Together, capacity, knowledge and data can serve as a solid basis to inform decision-makers and catalyse the transformation of transport.

Implement pilots to learn and share, then scale solutions

Pilots are a great way to test new ideas, learn through experience and adapt solutions to the local context. At a relatively low cost through temporal measures (e.g. tactical urbanism), decision-makers and users can see their effects and act accordingly. With increasing support and acceptance, new solutions can then be rolled out at scale more easily. It is crucial, however, to choose and design pilots that have the potential for scaling up, and prepare a plan accordingly.

Catalytic Measures

This toolkit provides a non-exhaustive list of measures that are catalytic to deliver on each of the Transformations.

This Catalytic Measures Toolkit provides a non-exhaustive list of measures that are catalytic to deliver on the SLOCAT Transformations for Sustainable Low Carbon Land Transport. 

A catalytic measure is understood to:

  • Have a significant impact on transport systems and multiple dimensions of sustainability, while remaining at relatively low-cost, 
  • Improve equity and access in transport and mobility, and
  • Contribute to mode shift. 

The Toolkit indicates the Transformation that is impacted by each measure, the level of action at which the measure is expected to be implemented,  and the type of stakeholders who have a role in each measure. A filter can be applied to facilitate navigation.