Wednesday 24 April 2024

UIC speaks at the Launchpad for the UN Decade for Action on Sustainable Transport

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On 17 April 2024, UIC, represented by Lucie Anderton, Head of Sustainability and North American Region coordinator, gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) during the High-Level Meeting on Sustainable Transport, which was convened to deliver on Resolution 77/286 as part of Sustainability Week.

In his opening speech, the President of the UNGA, H.E. Dennis Francis underpinned the collective hope that the gathering would be the threshold of a monumental shift in accelerating sustainable development, adding that the crucial significance of the transport sector in the global economy could not be overstated.

In the following plenary session, a total of 16 countries from all regions of the world, offered their support for action and presented their key ambitions.

In her address, Anderton highlighted the need for a significant modal shift to rail to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “A real transition away from fossil fuels is only possible with an approach that prioritises solutions that avoid motorised transport and shift to more sustainable modes,” she said.

Underlining the role of rail, she added that “the IEA estimates that this must grow by over 40% this decade, with a potential cumulative reduction of 460Mt of CO2 emissions between now and 2050.”

Anderton also noted how rail and sustainable development can help deliver on many UN Sustainable Development Goals, by combining public transport and rail with walking and cycling, it would make cities more liveable and equitable; reducing road fatalities, freeing up space, and improving air quality.

Moreover, three key factors to support more trains were set out:
1. Specific targets to increase railway traffic along with public transport and active travel, by having a clear policy at every level. This includes Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). As only a quarter of second generation NDCs feature rail, the next version must integrate goals for transforming transport including investing in rail to avoid emissions.
2. Policy and fiscal systems that incentivise rail freight, public transport, and active travel.
3. Investment to digitalise, electrify, expand, better connect, and modernise networks. To achieve its full potential, an estimated 300 billion USD will be required per year until 2030, with funding most needed in low income and landlocked countries.

The high-level meeting and those linked to it kick off the work towards an implementation plan for the UN Decade of Action, 2026 to 2035, and the 3rd Conference on Sustainable Transport. UIC welcomes this focus on sustainability, and the creation of the World Sustainable Transport Day on 26 November each year. As part of the global sustainable transport community, UIC will fully engage in these initiatives, promoting the voice of rail as a climate solution and acting as a key player in a just transition towards a sustainable future.

Listen to the speech:

For further information, please contact Lucie Anderton at

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