Transport Action for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Safe, efficient, low carbon, and affordable mobility for all is essential to sustainable human development and must be enabled in all sustainable development policies.


In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets were selected to demonstrate the scale and ambition of this universal Agenda. This year marked the completion of one-third of this ambitious journey. While we see progress being made in many geographies and sectors, António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, emphasised that “overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required”, calling for all sectors of society to mobilize for a ‘Decade of Action’.


Without sustainable transport, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved.


Sustainable, low carbon transport is the engine of the global economy and increases equitable access to jobs and other socio-economic opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. It powers a just transition to green jobs in a circular economy. It reduces climate impacts. It improves air quality and benefits public health. It reduces congestion, fuel imports and infrastructure costs. It powers livelihoods in urban and rural areas, within the carrying capacity of Earth’s ecosystems.


By determining our access to socio-economic opportunities, transport plays a pivotal role in shaping equitable and inclusive societies and wellbeing. It has a direct effect on the liveability of our shared habitats and the human and environmental health in them, whether they are urban or rural. As countries around the world contend with the adverse impacts of climate change and air pollution, it is imperative that the transport sector is used to advance low carbon development pathways. This would not only reduce emissions and fossil fuel dependency, but it would also improve the everyday lives of all people by sustainably securing access to goods, services, and each other.


Because of the intrinsic transversal nature of transport, it is essential to integrate it into all sustainability policies. Building on its work SLOCAT research found that transport is a key enabler of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: It supports the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is also directly related to 5 SDG indicators:


Since the first UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2016, SLOCAT has been assessing transport references in the Voluntary National Review provide a useful resource for policy-makers to better understand the role of transport in achieving the SDGs.

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