Information published on 20 June 2012 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 297.

RIO+20: international railway and public transport associations act together to achieve Sustainable Transport in the Cities of the Future

  • Sustainable development

On Tuesday 19 June UIC made its final contribution to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 by hosting a high-level reception and launching a statement supporting railways and public transport.

Leaders at Rio+20 have a rare opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people and usher in a new era of sustainability. Two decades after the original Earth Summit, governments from across the world are reaffirming their commitment to sustainable development and pledging to kick-start a green economy.

The Rio+20 negotiations are considering transport within the context of cities and urban development. Therefore UIC, working with many partners, developed a joint statement and a series of events on the theme “Sustainable Transport in the Cities of the Future.

This reception was the fifth event UIC had participated in at Rio+20. The UIC work at Rio started with a speaking role at a Side Event on 14 June to discuss Financing Sustainable Transport. The following day, UIC led its own side event titled Sustainable Transport in the Cities of the Future. This event was the most popular transport event at the Rio+20 negotiations, attracting over 70 people in the audience with standing-room only in the conference room.

On Sunday 17 June UIC spoke at another Side Event organised in partnership with the EU to focus on the Voluntary Commitments that UIC and other transport organisations had made to promote sustainable development. The UIC voluntary committment was to continue to promote the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Development and Transport.

Monday 18 June saw UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux make a presentation at the UN Global Summit on Mobility, on the topic of integrating railways with electric vehicles. This conference, organised as an official associated event by the UN, attracted an audience from around the world.

On Tuesday 19 June, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux was a panel speaker along with other high-level VIPs at a one-day conference for 80 participants entitled Sustainable Transport in the Cities of the Future, organised by UITP Latin America.

Concerning the involvement of UIC in this strategic issue of sustainable development he said:

“’Rio+20 is in fact an anniversary. And at the time of anniversaries we always look backwards in time and ask ourselves “what I have achieved?” and we look also forward in time and ask ourselves “What will I achieve?” Time is in fact the key to many of these answers. And time is also the key factor when thinking of railway developments. Because railway developments take a long time to achieve. A scale of time and a scale of investments which is beyond short-term profit and the paradox is that it needs to be started immediately. Immediately because rail can boost sustainable development, rail can create jobs, rail can answer the growing need of mobility between the cities and inside the cities which are growing faster than the achievements of the projects themselves. Two billion people will be moving into cities within the next 20 years. So there is a paradox. Rail development has a long-term development cycle but must be decided and financed quickly. This is the paradox for technicians of course but also for politicians and financial institutions of freight stakeholders. When we look back we’re lucky to see that our fathers of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century had made such decisions which are in many cases still in operation and beneficial for our societies and modern economies today. When we look forward let us just hope that our grandchildren will say the same of us. UIC has been proud to be part of many of the 28 events dedicated to transport issues in this Rio+20. UIC has been proud to represent the railway sector and all its members to demonstrate that sustainable development is really at the heart of the main preoccupations of all our Members for the benefits of customers and for the benefits of society at large.”

Finally, the evening of Tuesday 19 June saw UIC host with the support of EDLP, UIC member in Brazil, a high-level reception, with the support and partnership of UNIFE and UITP. In the online statement, the three associations are calling on all parties at Rio+20 to encourage strong international actions to endorse a modal shift towards rail and public transport.

UIC activities at UN conferences go back many years, including the famous Train to Copenhagen project in 2009, and launch of the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Development in May 2011, with an event at the UN in New York with Under-Secretary Sha Zukang.

The UIC work at Rio+20 will be followed up in October by the UIC Sustainability Conference 2012 in Venice, organised in partnership with FS.

For further information please see http://www.uic-environment.org/2012/

To download a copy of the joint statement, please visit:
http://www.uic.org/spip.php?article2872

For further information please contact Alex Veitch, UIC Head of Sustainable Development: veitch@uic.org