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.

The assessments found that countries have been reporting on transport as a vital sector to implement the SDGs, showcasing on-the-ground implementation and best practices. Through the VNRs, countries have contributed to offering leverage and momentum for the transport sector to move along a more sustainable path.

  Transport actions for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals


Transport and Voluntary National Reviews 2020: Action to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

In 2020, unprecedented challenges emerged which are causing significant setbacks to the achievement of the SDGs in the transport sector. The COVID-19 pandemic is sending a shock wave through societies worldwide and is permanently changing livelihoods as we know it. At the same time, the pandemic has pushed us to reflect on how we move people and goods, as well as what this will mean for the future of transport.

Despite the challenging circumstances, 47 countries succeeded in finalising their VNRs and presenting them virtually at the HLPF 2020. Many VNRs expressed concerns that the pandemic has impacted on and will continue to hinder the implementation of the SDGs and disrupt development efforts in the short-term. While the world grapples with successive pandemic waves and tries to define how recovery should look like, the SLOCAT Partnership seeks to empower change-makers to ensure the economic viability of, the affordable access to, and the right investments in sustainable, low carbon transport and mobility services and infrastructure as a vital piece to green, equitable recovery.

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Similar to previous years, the 2020 VNRs presented a rich reference to sustainable transport policies and measures to realise the SDGs amidst the crisis and demonstrated the countries’ continual commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda.

There was ample attention to urban and rural transport measure. Many countries reported on maritime transport measures; relatively fewer countries reported on rail-related measures, which shows a sub-optimal sign as rail is an imperative sustainable, low carbon solution for both passenger and freight activities. Active mobility solutions were also largely overlooked.

The Avoid-Shift-Improve Framework entails three main avenues to promote sustainable, low carbon transport and mobility solutions. Applying the hierarchy of Avoid-Shift-Improve strategies with integrated, inter-modal and balanced approaches is central to unleashing the full benefits of sustainable, low carbon transport, in terms of emissions reduction and equitable access to mobility.

More than half of the VNRs cited policy measures related to public transport (Shift measures) and road infrastructure development (other measures). Relatively more attention was given to measures for metro systems (Shift measures), electric mobility and the use of renewable energy in transport (Improve measures). Very few VNRs reported on Avoid measures, showing inadequate attention to the necessary long-term structural changes in business models, supply chains, city planning and behaviour patterns that could be brought about by Avoid transport measures.


About half of the 2020 VNRs have explicit references to transport sustainability impacts. Selected examples of 2020 VNRs references to the four themes of the SLOCAT Wheel on Transport and the SDGs can be found in the report.


The linkages between transport and the SDGs oriented around infrastructure, energy and climate mitigation were clear. However, VNRs must pay further attention 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, social equity and ‘Leaving No One Behind’.

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.

Previous Reports

Analysis of 2016 – 2019 Voluntary National Reviews


Summary infographic


Analysis report


Analysis report


Analysis report