Transport and Voluntary National Reviews

The 2030 Agenda encourages member states to submit Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which has been convening annually since 2016 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The VNR process aims to facilitate the sharing of experiences among countries, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.


Since the first HLPF in 2016, SLOCAT has been assessing transport references in the VNRs submitted each year. The assessment aims to:

  • Provide a useful resource for policy-makers to better understand the role of transport in achieving the SDGs;
  • Outline recommendations to policy-makers on goal-setting, implementing and reporting on sustainable transport progress;
  • Help the transport community (and other relevant sectors e.g. energy, health) better understand the pattern, gaps and opportunities in reporting sustainable transport in the VNR process.


Throughout the lifespan of the HLPF, countries have been reporting on transport as a vital sector to implement SDGs, showcasing on-the-ground implementation and best practices. Through the VNRs, countries contribute to offer leverage and momentum for the transport sector to move along a more sustainable path.


Preliminary Results of the 2020 Transport and VNRs Assessment


Because of the intrinsic transversal nature of transport, it is essential to integrate it into all sustainability policies in order to implement the SDGs.

23% of the submitted VNRs reported specific targets covering 7 areas in sustainable transport.

Transport targets in VNRs 2020

Increase universal access to public transport from 82% (2010) to 91% by 2030.

Increase the share of renewable energy in the transport sector to +10% by 2021. Limit death rate from traffic accidents to under 1406 by 2030. Increase the share of public transport, cycling, and walking >38.8% by 2030.

Raising biofuel quota in road transport to 30% in 2030.

Kyrgyz Republic
Increase regular passenger transport services in settled areas to 92-95%.

Increase road density from 0.63km per square km in 2019/20 to 1.5km per square km by 2030.

North Macedonia
Increase share of paved road networks from 60% to 87.5% by 2035.

Russian Federation
Increase the share of urban road networks from 42% (2017) to 85% by 2024.

Increase transport provision by 7.7% by 2024.

Increase universal access to transport to 70.7% by 2025.

Reduce transport GHG emissions significantly by 2030 and 2050.

Reduce the share of rural population living further than 3 km from paved roads to 0.5% by 2030.

Increase the volume of cleanly transported goods from 1,650.0 million tonnes (2020) to 1,900 million tonnes by 2030.

Increase the number of passengers on sustainable transport modes from 4.262 million (2019) to 6 million by 2030.

Increase the use of electric vehicles from 65% (2020) to 75% by 2030.

Reduce the number of rural households that lack access to urban areas from 24.4% in 2019 to 10% in 2030.

About half of the submitted VNRs in 2020 have included explicit references to transport sustainability impacts. The linkages between transport and infrastructure- and energy-oriented SDGs are clear, but further attention must be paid to the social dimension of sustainable development, thus establishing a stronger case as to how transport contributes to the overarching goals of the 2030 Agenda on poverty alleviation, food security, social equity and ‘Leaving No One Behind’.

A balanced approach to the Avoid-Shift Improve framework is required to achieve cost-effectively the broad benefits of sustainable, low carbon transport – whether it is reduced environmental impact, improved access to socioeconomic opportunities, increased logistics efficiency, less congestion, better air quality, more road safety, etc. Low tech solutions have multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.

Sustainable cost-effective solutions for road, rail, air, and maritime passenger and freight transport modes are available and have been tested at scale across regions of the globe.

Case studies in 2020 VNRs


Liberia Since 2018, Liberia has been expanding its national road network with the aim to reduce transport and trade costs, generate decent employment opportunities and transform the living conditions of the poor and the vulnerable through better access to social services. In addition, the programme aims to alleviate traffic congestion and transit times in Monrovia.
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea introduced transport infrastructure and incentives to connect local farmers to global market supply chains. It also adopted a USD 1.24-billion stimulus package for COVID-19 recovery, which offer shipping subsidies for farmers in the Momase and Highlands region secure food production and market access.
Bangladesh The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) introduced a digital motor vehicle
management system to increase the effectiveness of road safety laws. Twelve Radio-frequency identification stations have been established to track the movement of the motor vehicle in Dhaka City. These activities and actions have reduced the death rate due to road traffic injuries to 1.65/ 100,000 population in 2018 (from 2.48 in 2015).
Morocco Morocco initiated the Tayssir Financial Assistance Program for children of refugees and immigrants, which offers boarding and transport facilitation.
Papua New Guinea In Port Moresby, safe market programs are implemented under the city commission to protect women traders, who make up 80% of all traders. In 2013, 55% of women experienced some form of sexual violence in the market spaces. Supported by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, major town markets have undergone transformational changes in infrastructure, leading to improved economic opportunities, improved sanitation, and created a safe space for everyone.
Republic of Moldova Moldova introduced the Transport and Logistics Strategy for 2013-2022 to create a legal, institutional and adequate environment for the transport and logistics sector. The Strategy focuses on improving various transport modes to facilitate better foreign trade and economic growth.
Gambia Gambia’s National Development Plan includes a programme which increases primary road network in good condition (paved) and construct new bridges to increase accessibility across the River Gambie (a river that divides the country into two halves).
Micronesia The Okeanos foundation, supported by the national and state governments, implements a pan-Pacific Vaka (boat) network to offer safe, regular and reliable service to remote communities. The Vakas are modernised and fossil fuel-free, certified for open ocean safety for transport of passengers and cargo (e.g. crops, provisions, educational supplies, medicine, tools etc.) as well as disaster relief.
Nepal The government has implemented rural road programs to enhance productive capacity of remote communities and aligning them with due management of natural resources. A total of 129 bridges have been constructed in from 2019-2020. A total of 15,254 km of black topped, 9,251 of gravelled and 9,842 km of earthen roads were built in the same year. Strengthening rural roads, enhancing road safety and ensuring road connectivity to all parts of the country remains the priority of the government.
Burgas, Bulgaria Burgas Municipality has developed a sustainable mobility system with bikeshare, integrated intelligent systems for public transport, and intelligent video surveillance in stations. In 2018, it launched a pilot project with 30 smart parking spaces to collect traffic and congestion data.
Quito, Ecuador Quito is developing a compact, efficient and sustainable urban system around the axes of the metropolitan transportation system. The government provides financial Incentives for land developers to build in areas with public transport (bus rapid transit and Metro).
Austria Austria has been focusing on the digitalisation and automation of its mobility systems to enhance access to services, improve road safety, boost traffic efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. 34 measures have been defined so far in the Automated Mobility Action Package for 2019–2022.
Slovenia Slovenia launched the Climate Path 2050 project which enables the municipalities to compare their performances in preventing climate change. The project adopts a vertical collaboration approach, supported by exchange on good practices in key sectors including transport, buildings, agriculture. Slovenia is also running the LIFE IP Care4Climate project, a multistakeholder partnership focusing on reducing GHG emissions in sectors with the highest potentials (including transport).
Tallinn, Estonia Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS, a company owned by the city of Tallinn, has released the Cleaner Urban Environment Strategy for 2035, which includes a target to boost the number of transport passengers, procure clean public transport vehicles (bus, trolley and tram). It also aims to have all public transport vehicles powered by renewable electricity by 2035.

Robust coordination and support from SDG-lead agencies are required to maximise the contribution of the transport sector within the national development framework for short-/ medium- and long-term planning. Establishing such a harmonised long-term strategy with ambitious vision and specific targets could enable the implementation of transport measures to maximise wide sustainability impacts.

The full potential of the transport and wider mobility sector to contribute to a balanced achievement of the SDGs remains untapped. VNRs can unleash a more comprehensive vision and assessment of sustainable, low carbon transport development. This would require countries to further understand and enable this cross-cutting sector, as well as its capacity to foster interlinkages across the SDGs and hence integrated and systemic policy approaches. HLPF formats can further facilitate thematic discussions and learning about interconnecting topics and measures.



Sustainable Transport: A Critical Driver to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
An analysis of 2016 – 2019 Voluntary National Reviews