All roads lead… to sustainable transport

There’s a renewed sense of urgency to shift the way we move.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must transform how we move ourselves and our goods. Photo: UNDP Moldova

Pandemics leave lasting societal upheaval in their wakes. And even while the world is still coming to grips with the health and socio-economic costs of COVID-19, we are starting to see some of the ways it has produced positive change.

There’s a renewed sense of urgency to shift the way we move and drive. Electric car registrations increased by 41 percent in 2020, despite a pandemic-related downturn in car sales, according to .

Emissions from the transportation sector are a major driver of climate change. UNDP is working with countries to make urban transport greener. Photo: Shun Idota/Unsplash

The International Civil Aviation Organization has recently welcomed , and the pandemic has led many . Since 2020 Paris has seen a 70 percent increase in bicycle use, and Italy will invest in 1,014 kilometres of new lanes.

As we head towards the UN Climate Conference (COP26), the , provides an opportunity to show how transport can become more sustainable.

Pedaling to work

In Chisinau, Moldova, UNDP is developing a new strategy for an : can you imagine going safely to work by bicycle throughout a 200 kilometres network of routes connecting all sectors of the capital on exclusive lanes?

In Ukraine, 90 to 95 percent of city air pollution is created by road transport. UNDP is working with the European Union to boost the that not only prioritizes sustainability but combats traffic congestion.

Despite an overall downturn in car sales during the pandemic, electric car registrations increased by 41 percent in 2020. Photo: Mike/Pexels

Traditional vehicles and new technology

One of the main barriers to people using electric vehicles is reluctance to adopt a new type of automobile. In Uruguay, the has created a combination of incentives to build trust by showing the viability of electric vehicles and to make the switch financially worthwhile.

Montevideo has introduced 30 electric buses and aims to have 110 by 2025, as well as 550 electric taxis and 900 electric utility vehicles.

In , around 40 taxi drivers in Thimphu have registered with the Ministry of Information and Communication to replace their fossil-fueled cabs with electric vehicles.

And some tuk-tuks in Guatemala, the conventional moto-taxis, , with electric motors, battery banks and solar panels.

Dedicated lanes for bikes and public transport are part of Ukraine’s strategy to increase sustainability and reduce traffic congestion (left). Photo: UNDP Ukraine. Some tuk-tuks in Guatemala are switching to solar power (right). Photo: for Tomorrow

Cities are primarily about people, not cars

Egypt had zero cycle tracks and no network of quality public buses. But that’s changing.

In Fayum, 100 kilometres outside of Cairo, the Government of the Netherlands, the GEF Small Grants Programme and UNDP are working on to encourage non-motorized transport. The initiative has established high quality public buses, 14 kilometres of cycling lanes, student loans for buying bicycles, as well as pioneering a university bike-sharing scheme.

The Sustainable Development Goals cannot be reached without a complete overhaul of how we move ourselves and our goods. The path to the future can lead us away from fossil fuels towards clean cars, bike lanes and convenient public transport powered by green energy.

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