Transport for Sustainable Development

Published: Dec 2021

ISBN: 978-1-913246-81-5

Author: Dr Alix Mary Edwards

Pages: 28

Reference: ACA020

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TRL’s vision for the future is of clean, efficient transport that is safe, reliable and accessible for everyone, including for countries in the global south; low- and middle-income countries. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the United Nations set out 17 goals with a multitude of targets. Many of these relate to transport, and TRL’s work directly contributes to achieve the safety and climate related transport goals.

The priority, quite rightly, for the global south is to deal with immediate concerns on poverty, and particularly providing access for rural communities. But what do countries of the global south really want to do? Do they want to follow the global north in motorisation, which we now realise is a large contributor to climate change?

 More likely they want to find alternative innovative transport solutions that will be cleaner, cheaper, and better suited to the local environment and culture. Countries in the global north are trying to reverse the motorisation trend, having realised the health benefits of active travel, so why encourage the use of cars in the global south? For rural roads, is building a new road for cars and freight the right solution, or can new mobility solutions supplement existing transport systems; maybe drone deliveries are more cost effective? For trunk roads, why not utilise the mobile phone data of road users (that are present on the roads anyway) to capture live information about the road and traffic condition, and potentially to communicate with other road users, instead of investing huge sums in building roadside infrastructure when it will go out of date? Why not build future roads that are flexible and adaptive? The key to success of transport initiatives is to focus efforts in the most cost-effective way, that is suited to the needs of local communities, and that is focussed on reducing casualties and greenhouse gases too.

TRL is a global centre of excellence in transport and innovative mobility solutions. We have an internationally recognised team of scientists, researchers and consultants, who can provide training and upskilling to authorities and businesses throughout the global south. By working together and sharing knowledge and skills we can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for safety and climate change, and help to answer some of these challenging questions.  

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