Driving Home the Importance of Safe and Sustainable Mobility

Jay Owen Green Prosperity, Community Development Solutions, Beyond GDP

By Nneka Henry, UN Road Safety Fund

The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out currently underway has prompted several countries and companies to shift their focus and investments back to the largely unfinished business of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under the auspices of “building back better,” there is a renewed impetus to re-prioritize “people, planet and prosperity.”

Recognizing the crucial connection between health, environment, and transport, one way to give teeth to this renewed global development agenda is to invest in helping developing countries shape mobility in a positive way by embedding safe and sustainable mobility into stimulus packages and COVID-19 recovery programmes available across the world, which are estimated to be worth a total of USD15 trillion dollars.

Transport is the only sector whose greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing in recent years.


Eye-opening research by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that road traffic incidents claim the lives of nearly 1.3 million people every single year. Even more alarming, over 90% of fatal road incidents occur in developing countries, and many of the lives lost are vulnerable road users such as young children, pedestrians, and cyclists. It still comes as a surprise to even the most informed among us that road fatalities are the number one cause of death in people aged 5 to 29 years old.

During the first Decade of Action on Road Safety (2010-2020), important progress was made under the “people” pillar. Notable steps were: the appointment of a UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Road Safety; the inclusion of a SDG target calling to halve road traffic fatalities by 2030; and the establishment of the United Nations Road Safety Fund (UNRSF). In its three years of operation, the Fund is helping hundreds of policymakers, institutions, road safety designers, and enforcers in 30 countries to shape mobility in a safer and more sustainable way by elevating their national road safety systems to UN and international safety standards. Thanks to UNRSF projects, communities and families in beneficiary countries will be spared unnecessary road fatalities and injuries. Continue reading