Information published on 18 September 2012 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 309.

Rio + 20 Outcomes

  • Sustainable development

In June 2012 the Earth Summit – also known as Rio+20 – was held. It was a conference of paramount importance, organised by the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development, which brought together millions of stakeholders: government representatives, NGOs, civil society, etc. Thus, important decisions were taken. Let us assess the outcomes of Rio+ 20 for sustainable transport.

The outcomes concerning transport are a success. Indeed, in the report published by the UNCSD called The Future We Want, that establishes UN priorities for sustainable development and provides a framework for action, there is a part dedicated to Sustainable Transport.

More precisely, Article 132 states that “transportation and mobility are central to sustainable development” and further insists on the “importance of environmentally sound, safe and affordable transportation.” UIC’s members can provide this kind of transportation, being the safest and lowest carbon mode of transport. Moreover, Article 133 mentions that they “support the development of sustainable transport systems, including energy efficient multi-modal transport systems.” Railways absolutely match these criteria.

What is more, not only did governments participate in the Summit, but also many NGOs and associations like ours. They made a series of Voluntary Commitments: there are 747 commitments in different fields from food security to water and forest management, and we count 18 in sustainable transport, including our Declaration on Sustainable Transport and Mobility. This shows that there is a will to achieve sustainable development and we are part of this movement.

The most interesting voluntary commitment from our point of view is the one made by eight Development Banks that are to provide $175 billion in grants and loans for sustainable transport. The banks acknowledge the vital role of sustainable transport and want to implement it. Their objective is to facilitate access for transport and mobility for the poor and reduce transport-related GHG emissions. Once again, railways match all these criteria and it is very likely that, as soon as the banks set their targets (before the end of 2012), we can become partners with them.

Next steps:

  • Try and become partners with the Development Banks
  • Follow up the decisions taken by the High Level Political Forum, which is to replace the UNCSD, and see if sustainable transport is in their framework for action, to promote railways

For further information, please read the full article on Railway Sustainability.org: http://www.railway-sustainability.org/spip.php?article116