Young Leaders in Sustainable Transport

The SLOCAT Partnership and the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) have launched in May 2019 the Young Leaders in Sustainable Transport programme.

The programme builds bridges between the transport community and young people and explores new perspectives by creating an interface between knowledge and policy. It will also raise the capacity of young people and provide them new skills in evidence-based policy analysis for sustainable transport.

Young people are recognised as the torchbearers of sustainable development and the vanguards in the struggle against climate change. By working directly with young leaders, the transport community will empower the generation who can help foster far-reaching and unprecedented change and build long-lasting bridges with other constituencies.

Young Leaders in Sustainable Transport 2020

Activities by the Young Leaders

The Young Leaders participated at the HLPF 2019, COP25 and WUF10. Read here about their summaries:

HLPF2019 – Enhancing the Role of Transport in achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda – Article by Edna Odhiambo & Thomas van Laake
Transport, Gender and Climate Action – Article by Seema Singh

For more information on the programme,  please reach out to Nikola Medimorec (

Final Products of the Young Leaders

As part of the programme, the Young leaders conducted research on a certain topic of their choice. Below you can find their individual research products:

Barriers to Women's Physical Mobility - Case of Panchkula, India
Sustainable transport for human development, human transport for sustainable development
Gender, Mobility and Transport
Transport Emissions in the Arab Region

The Young Leaders presented their final products through a webinar in January 2020. You can find the presentation here.

Participants of the Young Leaders Programme

In the first year of Young Leaders in Sustainable Transport programme from May to December 2019 the following 6 participants have been selected through a competitive programme:

Edna Odhiambo

Edna lectures on Climate Change and Land Use Law at the University of Nairobi. She is a climate change lawyer with expertise in climate policy, climate finance and clean energy. Her work focuses primarily on developing regulatory frameworks to promote climate action in cities especially in transportation. She has recent publications and several international presentations on climate governance and sustainable cities. Edna is a Fulbright scholar with a masters in Environment and Natural Resources Law from the University of Oregon and is currently in the early phases of pursuing a doctorate on sustainable mobility regulatory frameworks for African megacities.


Hirotaka Koike

Hirotaka is a policy researcher at the City Taskforce of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES). He coordinates initiatives of the Voluntary Local Reviews and the VLR Lab and, through this initiative, creates peer-learning mechanism and frameworks of local SDGs implementation and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). He has intensively engaged in UN policy processes with the thematic focus on integrated territorial development, inclusive governance, and inequality. Prior to the current position, he was at the UN Major Group for Children and Youth as the Organising Partner (2017-8) and Global Focal Point for Habitat III (2016-18) among other roles.

Final product: An Introductory Guide to Advocacy for the Transport Sector in the Context of the SDGs


Seema Singh

Seema is a PhD Candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, USA. Her dissertation work aims to examine gender and urban transport linkages in India with the key intent of mainstreaming gender concerns in urban planning and policy making in developing country context. She is also interested in exploring the role new innovative forms of mobility services (like Uber) can play in closing the existing gap. Prior to beginning her PhD, Seema worked for over four years as a Research Associate at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a global policy think tank working on issues of sustainable urban development and urban transport globally. Seema also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Chandigarh College of Architecture, and a Masters in Infrastructure Planning from CEPT University, Ahmedabad (India).

Final product: Barriers to Women’s Physical Mobility – Case of Panchkula, India


Thomas van Laake

Thomas is a geographer and urbanist with Dutch roots, and specific interest in sustainable urban development in Latin America. He studied human geography (Utrecht) and urbanization and development (LSE), culminating in a master’s thesis research project in Ecuador. Over the past years, he has been based in Bogotá, working at Despacio, a Colombian non-profit research center focusing on sustainable mobility. Here, he has developed interests and skills working on urban cycling, tactical urbanism, road safety, and mass transit.

Final Product: Sustainable Transport for Human Development, Human Transport for Sustainable development


Xiomara Acevedo Navarro

Xiomara (Xiomy) is an Internationalist and a committed leader for environmental and climate justice in Colombia and around the world. Since age 15, she has been developing and creating spaces for community solutions to climate change in Barranquilla, Colombia. In 2012, she founded Barranquilla+20 a youth led collective organization that educate and empower children and youth as climate mobilizers. She also volunteered in Paraguay and works in Nariño, Colombia in climate change projects, policy and actions.

Final product: Gender, Mobility and Transport


Zahira Abounoas

Zahira is PhD student originally from Morocco. With a background in transport engineering, Zahira chose to be more specialized in Road Safety. She got a Master’s degree in Road Safety Management from the faculty of engineering of Saint Joseph University in Lebanon. Currently, she is preparing a PhD related to Road Safety Information Systems in the Arab region. Earlier, Zahira worked as a consultant in the fields of roads audit and data systems. She also got the opportunity to be familiarized with the international environment by integrating for internships many regional and international entities such as United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN ESCWA), International Federation of Automobile (FIA), and the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport Development and Networks (IFSTTAR).

Final product: Transport in the Arab Region