At the Rio + 20 Conference in 2012 the Multi-Lateral Development Banks (MDBs) committed jointly to provide $175 billion for sustainable transport projects over 10 years.
In Africa, following through on this commitment will prove particularly difficult, because the region lags far behind other regions in introducing sustainable transport policies, and faces numerous challenges in the provision of basic transport services and ensuring connectivity.
Most urban areas in Africa are encountering a multitude of transport issues including a lack of viable public transport, rapidly increasing private vehicle dependency and increasing vulnerabilities of pedestrians and cyclists to road injury and fatality.
The role of environmental, social, and economic sustainability, and the need for low-carbon and resilient solutions as part of creating and maintaining connectivity, needs to be better understood at all levels of the policy making and implementation process in Africa.
In both Asia and Latin America, transport and environment professionals have been coming together periodically at their respective ‘Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST)’ Fora, to discuss and strategize towards more sustainable transport future. Building on this example, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank launched a proposal to develop a similar initiative for Africa, with a view to developing an agreed continent wide framework for action for sustainable transport, supported by an Africa-based governance structure and implementation mechanism.
The Africa Sustainable Transport Forum (ASTF) is designed to mainstream the concepts of sustainable transport and inclusive green growth into transport policies in Africa. The ASTF acts as a platform for dialog, knowledge sharing, and Africa-specific innovation on sustainable transport issues, oriented to policy makers at both national and sub-national levels.
In its first year, the Forum has united African environmental and transport decision makers on the subject of sustainable transport and produced a concrete ‘Action Framework’ facilitating a harmonized approach to Africa-wide action towards a more sustainable transport future.
The organisation of the 1st Conference of the ASTF (October 2014) was supported by the World Bank, The African Transport Policy Program (SSATP), UN-Habitat and UNEP, with UNEP hosting the interim ASTF Secretariat until such a time as the Forum meets again.
The main source of funding for the conference was provided by SSATP and the South African Fund for Energy, Transport and Extractives (SAFETE). SSATP is an international partnership of 40 African countries, Regional Economic Communities, continental institutions (African Union Commission), UN agencies (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), public and private sector organisations, and international development agencies and organisations. All SSATP members are united in their efforts to strengthen policies and strategies to promote efficient, safe and sustainable transport for the people in Africa (www.ssatp.org).
The Government of Kenya hosted the first Forum Conference which took place from 28-30 October 2014 at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The event was opened by the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya on 30 October 2014, and brought together representatives of 43 African countries and 21 Ministers from both Environment and Transport Ministries. This marked the first time that both environment and transport Ministers came together to agree on priority actions concerning sustainable transport at a continent wide level.
An essential objective for the ASTF’s first conference was to formulate a solid road-map for action on transport issues across Africa, and to determine what African States want and need from the ASTF Secretariat. The Conference achieved this objective by deliberating with participants to identify their priority areas for action concerning sustainable transport, and in reaching agreement on what the essential components and tasks of the ASTF and the newly formed ASTF Secretariat should be.
The gathered priority actions were discussed and debated broadly, before being categorised within Breakout Sessions into four Action Areas.
The four action areas within which the various actions were clustered consisted of the following:
Since the inaugural conference the ASTF Secretariat has been bringing together a ‘Coalition of Implementing Partners’, committed to supporting the implementation of the ASTF Action Framework. Several like-minded organisations committed to supporting the implementation of the ASTF Action Framework on the ground have come forward and the ASTF Secretariat is continually seeking new linkages and partners in this regard.
The ASTF Secretariat has been tasked with capturing the current state of sustainable transport across Africa with respect to the 13 key points of action contained within the Action Framework. This information will serves also as a baseline against which to measure and monitor progress going forward, and is now accessible via the ASTF Knowledge Sharing Hub linked from the ASTF main site at:http://www.unep.org/Transport/astf/knowledgehub/
The hub went live on July 16th in draft form, and features an on-line library of tools, publications and guidance documents. Key topics amongst others include African countries that have national sustainable transport plans, those that are working on using cleaner fuels and those that have implemented emission standards (with effective inspection and maintenance processes). Going forward, the platform will also showcase best practice examples, news stories, events etc. Over the course of the next 12 months (2015-2016), the ASTF Secretariat will be working directly with country focal points and broader partners to validate the gathered data, ensure accuracy and capture a true reflection of the reality on the ground.
Africa, Mitigation, Freight, passenger, Policy, Partnerships, Awareness,
UNEP & UN-Habitat
"For this agenda to gain traction, it requires our commitment to a shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development for Africa's transformation. It also requires that we do things differently to achieve our vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa."
-President Uhuru Kenyatta