Yesterday in New York the UIC formally launched the Declaration on Sustainable Mobility and Transport, the railway sector’s commitment to sustainable development. The Declaration lists the most important sustainable development goals for the global railway sector. By signing it, member railways are making a public commitment to work towards these objectives and provide progress reports regarding further improving safety, reliability, punctuality, and environmental performance. The Declaration has so far been signed by 44 UIC members representing more than 60% of the total passenger rail market around the world.
The launch event took place at the United Nations in New York, on the occasion of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD19). The launch event featured speeches from Mr Sha Zukang, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Mr László Borbély, Chairman of CSD19 and Romanian Environment Minister. Both Mr Sha and Mr Borbely warmly welcomed the Declaration and praised the railway sector for taking steps to improve its performance on sustainable development.
Representing the global railway sector were Mr Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways (RZD); Mr Takao Nishiyama, Head of New York Office, Japan Railways Group on behalf of Mr Yoshio Ishida, Chairman of UIC and Vice-Chairman of East Japan Railway Company; Mr Al Engel, Vice-President of Amtrak, and UIC Director-General, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux. Railway representatives reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development and their desire to continue to work closely with the United Nations and other stakeholders going forward.
“Sustainability is a fundamental value shared by UIC members all over the world. With this Declaration UIC and its Members demonstrate rail’s commitment to be at the heart of sustainable transport systems. Railways around the world strive to meet and exceed customer expectations and support economic growth, while at the same time keeping a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility. By improving our own sustainability performance we hope to make rail the transport mode of choice for both passenger and freight customers and have railways make a significant and sustainable contribution to the development of modern economies." said Mr Loubinoux.
Under-Secretary General Mr. Sha Zukang, applauding the launch of the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility, said: “I appreciate the commitments and efforts of the International Union of Railways and its members to promote sustainable development around the world. […] A “green economy” in the context of sustainable development […] will be one of the main themes of Rio+20 in 2012. Options for a “greener economy” would certainly require a “greener transport sector”. Without any doubt, the transport and the railway industries will have an important role to play in the achievement of a “greener economy”.”
Mr Borbely mentioned that the sustainable rail transport meets the demands of all three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. He fully supports the development of rail as one of the solutions to sustainable development in the transport sector.
Mr Yakunin underlined how rail is crucial for economic development worldwide. "The world is changing, and rail is changing the world. The Russian rail network is key to the development of both Asia and Europe, but its development requires close cooperation between international railways; cooperation which is facilitated and supported by the UIC” he said.
Mr Engel said: “Railways in North America already play a crucial role in our economy, and we have the opportunity to develop the sector through new high-speed routes. We look forward to working closely with international partners and the US government to develop high-speed rail lines in the United States.”
Finally Mr Nishiyama that "the common and most urgent issue throughout the world now is the energy concern. It is certain that resources […] will run out and the price of those resources will rise in the years to come. To solve this problem, […] the strong requirement now is to make a system to use energy efficiently throughout all of society. The railways from now towards the future can become an ever more important mode of transport in all parts of the world. Now the railway companies Iike ourselves, should voluntarily take positive actions to raise the level of safety, reliability, punctuality, cleanness, comfort, and cost reduction, so that each customer will choose the railway as his or her own transport.”
The next step for the UIC sustainability program is to develop a sector-level sustainability report to be presented to the Rio+20 conference in June 2012. This report will summarise the rail sector’s progress in delivering the commitments in the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility & Transport.
The UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility and Transport is available at http://www.railway-sustainability.org/spip.php?article76