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Regional sustainable transport forum held

Released at: 16:35, 30/10/2019

Regional sustainable transport forum held

Photo: Vietnam News Agency

Hanoi hosts "12th Intergovernmental Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport Forum in Asia" on October 28.

by Jessica Nguyen

The opening ceremony of the “12th Intergovernmental Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport Forum in Asia” (EST12) took place in Hanoi on October 28, co-organized by the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Construction, the Hanoi People’s Committee, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MoE), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), and the United Nations Center for Regional Development of the Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN DESA, under the theme of “Achieving Smart and Resilient Cities through Low Carbon and Intelligent Transport Systems”.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung attended and delivered an opening address. In attendance were some 335 delegates, including 213 international delegates from 25 Asian countries and territories, including government officials from EST member countries, representatives of embassies, delegates from international organizations and the private sector, UN scholars, and experts.

In an era of unprecedented urbanization, many Asian cities are facing a range of socioeconomic and environmental problems, such as traffic congestion, air pollution and related health impacts, traffic accidents and fatalities, rising GHG emissions, and the growing impact of climate change and noise pollution, among others, which are often attributed to unsustainable urban planning, design, and development.

The major challenge for Asian cities has been how to manage the enormous growth in demand for urban passenger and freight transport within the constraints of current infrastructure and city development. There is a global consensus that the way towns and cities are designed and how they function needs to be reconsidered in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 11 - make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It will also be important to integrate transport and land development planning to unlock new opportunities for funding.

The aim of the Forum was to provide policy, technological, and institutional insights into how Asian EST member countries and cities can advance low carbon and intelligent transport system development in achieving international agendas and agreements by bringing transformational changes in urban development.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Dung emphasized that, as one of the countries committed to implementing and adopting the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations, Vietnam has actively participated in the process of the implementation of sustainable development through the formulation and implementation of the National Strategy on Sustainable Development, as well as developed a national action plan to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Vietnam is also one of the countries that has actively developed and implemented the National Plan to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change with strong commitments that have been recognized and appreciated by the international community.

Through the Socio-Economic Development Strategy for the 2011-2020 period and the Draft Strategy for the 2021-2030 period, Vietnam continues to affirm the need to create a breakthrough in socioeconomic infrastructure development, of which transport infrastructure and major urban infrastructure are key missions.

In recent years, economic and technical infrastructure in general, and transport and major urban infrastructure in particular, have been prioritized with major investments. Along with that, Vietnam is also implementing many synchronous solutions to control the emissions of motor vehicles, promote new energy applications, and develop intelligent transportation.

“With these efforts, the face of traffic and urban areas of Vietnam has changed dramatically, with quality increasingly improved,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. “Reports from the World Economic Forum (WEF) show that during the 2010-2015 period, Vietnam’s usefulness and quality of transport infrastructure improved significantly in the past decade, up 36 steps.”

However, he added that besides the important achievements, Vietnam’s transportation, especially urban transportation, is still facing many challenges.

Although investment in transport infrastructure has received focus it is still lacking synchronization. Investment in the construction of infrastructure in general, especially transportation infrastructure in large cities, is still slow compared to the country’s development needs. The ratio of land area for urban transport is still low while the number of vehicles, especially private vehicles, is constantly increasing in urban areas. Public transport is developing slowly, causing serious traffic congestion in major cities, greatly affecting economic growth, increasing environmental pollution, and reducing quality of life.

At the opening session, UN Representative Mr. Shantanu Mukherjee, Head of Policy and Analysis at the Division on Sustainable Development Goals, UN DESA, said that the EST Forum has been held for many years and brought positive results, fostering dialogue between senior government officials as well as industries, thereby identifying practical solutions. “This forum, with the participation of representatives of ministers, businesses and scientists, will have many multi-dimensional opinions to gain diverse views from many sides,” he said. “Through that there are commitments and partnerships as well as initiatives to develop sustainable transport.”

Efforts to achieve smart and resilient cities would not only improve urban mobility but could also significantly contribute to the objectives of the inter-linked and mutually-reinforcing 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the New Urban Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Nairobi Mandate, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). At the same time, the Paris Agreement on climate change calls for intensifying actions and investments in a sustainable and low-carbon future to limit the average global temperature rise to well below 2C by the end of this century.

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