Information published on 14 January 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 381.

UIC advises the United Nations working party on Sustainable Development Goals in New York

  • Sustainable development

UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux was invited to deliver a presentation during the Side Event of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals [1]. The event was organised jointly by UNDESA, UN Habitat and the SLoCaT Partnership on 7 January 2014 in New-York. This event is part of a cohesive plan of actions to support the strategic fundamental value of rail sustainability. It follows the launch in New York in 2011 in the presence of Vladimir Yakunin of the UIC Declaration for sustainability endorsed by more and more members.

The audience included delegates from national governments, development banks (including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank) and international experts in sustainable transport.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux stated that “the world needs a Sustainable Development Goal dedicated to transport in order to drive the wider economic, social and environmental development agenda”. He then went on to review the strong sustainability credentials of rail transport, and outlined how investment in rail is fundamental to establishing sustainable transport systems.

The case for rail as the backbone of sustainable transport systems was made with supporting evidence from the latest IEA-UIC Railway Handbook 2013 on Energy consumption & CO2 emissions of World Railway sector, recently published. [2]. This included the role of rail as a high capacity, high efficiency and low carbon transport mode, in particular:

  • Analysis of the data shows the potential for reducing carbon emissions through shifting to rail worldwide, railways generate only 3% of transport CO2 emissions, while sustaining more than 9% of total transport activity.
  • Between 2000 and 2010 CO2 emissions of the World Railway sector decreased by 30% per passenger-km and by 18% per freight tonne-km

Participation in this event will be followed up by engagement at the United Nations Climate Summit, 23 September 2014 [3], and the UNFCCC COP20 climate negotiations in Peru, December 2014. Participation at United Nation events allows UIC to advocate investment in rail to national governments and development banks.

The importance of recognition by UN bodies was recently underlined by UIC Chairman Mr Vladimir Yakunin in his address to the UIC General Assembly in December 2013, in particular for “harmonisation of transport law, combined transport, the development of Eurasian transport corridors, ensuring transport safety, protection from unlawful interference, and sustainable development’.

The UIC has been present at COP negotiations for over 10 years, to make the case that railways are a sustainable, low-carbon form of transport. UIC is the formal railway representative to the United Nations and has what is known as Observer Status at the talks. This means UIC is able to arrange attendance at these conferences for its members, and enables it to hold side events and exhibition stands as well.

The speech given by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux is available here:

For further information please contact Nick Craven: