November 02, 2011

Building a (more sustainable) Road to Rio

Less than a year from now, leaders from countries around the globe will convene in Rio to grapple with the actions needed to create a more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable world. ITDP is working with our partners to lay the groundwork for sustainable urban transportation to be prominently on the agenda.

The meeting is officially called the “United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”. It is also referred to as Rio+20 (to mark the 20th anniversary of the conference’s 1992 meeting in Rio which drew over 100 Presidents and Prime Ministers). Many environmental groups are dubbing it the “Earth Summit”, the more popular name for the 1992 event.

The past few years have been tough for global climate and sustainability negotiations. It has proven difficult to find alignment between developed and developing countries on binding CO2 emissions targets and other issues. But Rio+20 offers an opportunity to go beyond global climate change issue and also get commitments for funding and policies in the transportation sector that promote the social, economic, and local environmental benefits.

ITDP leads the charge in making sure that any agreement in Rio specifically address the transport sector. To this end it has worked with the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) to draft a transport-specific “Sustainable Development Goal” which has already been endorsed by over 20 organizations including several multi-lateral development banks, as well as other transportation-oriented NGOs. These groups call on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to include this goal in the “zero” draft of the agreement that will be negotiated in Rio.

“It’s significant that such a wide array of groups agree that sustainable transport needs to be recognized by the world’s governments as a fundamental goal for sustainable development. The June 2012 Earth Summit will provide an important opportunity to better align international cooperation and investment to boost economic growth, equity and the environment,” said Michael Replogle, Global Policy Director and Founder of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “With a majority of the world’s 7 billion people now living in cities, it’s time to focus transport investment and policy on producing safe, clean, low-carbon, affordable transport.”

ITDP has also joined with the Rio+20/Earth Summit Sustainable Communities Working Group in preparing a shorter version of these recommendations. These recommendations have been submitted to the CSD by the Ford Foundation and NRDC.

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