UN Resolution focuses on SDG road safety agenda

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UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt.
UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt.
US Permanent Representative, Ambassador Samantha Power.
US Permanent Representative, Ambassador Samantha Power.
Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN.
Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN.

The UN General Assembly has agreed a wide-ranging and detailed Resolution calling on the international community to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda on road safety as well as the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

The Resolution received strong support in the UN General Assembly with 55 Governments co-sponsoring on 15 April 2016. A leading role was played by the Russian Federation which introduced and coordinated the Resolution supported prominently by the Government of Brazil and the Sultanate of Oman. At a UN General Assembly session to debate the Resolution, powerful statements were delivered by a range of governments and high level representatives including UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt, FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson (above) representing the UK Government, US Permanent Representative to the UN Samantha Power, Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation and Antonio de Aguiar Patriota the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN.

The Resolution sets out key steps aimed at implementing the SDG targets 3.6 to halve road deaths by 2020 and 11.2 to improve road safety in cities. These include: a new global ‘Road Safety Trust Fund’ to be considered by the UN Secretary General; the development of SDG global performance targets on major road safety risk factors and service delivery; and the inclusion of road safety in the upcoming Habitat III UN conference on sustainable urban development.

The focus on the new urban agenda in the Resolution is in line with the FIA Foundation’s input into Habitat III. It focuses particularly on vulnerable populations, including children and places a particular emphasis on the need to protect pedestrians and cyclists in the urban context.

UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt addressed the General Assembly and highlighted the need for a global fund. Noting the devastating human and financial cost of road traffic injuries and fatalities, he said: “This Resolution gives us the opportunity to make concrete progress. We need greater financial commitment for this issue.” Jean Todt also highlighted the need to improve vehicle safety. “Why do we continue to build vehicles in some countries which continue to fail to meet fundamental safety standards?” he asked.

In a powerful speech, FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson addressed the UN General Assembly on behalf of the UK Government. He said: “This is a resolution that can help us to deliver change. But we will only succeed if we resolve, together, to turn these words on a page into action on our streets.”

Calling for leadership and cooperation of all governments and the international community on key measures such as the proposal for a road safety global fund, he said: “We can resolve, here, today, that there will be no more excuses, no more delays, in delivering the solutions we know can work and can prevent more unnecessary deaths. We now have the new Global Goals with the ambitious target of halving road casualties by half in the next five years. So many lives are at stake. We cannot afford to fail.”

Lord Robertson highlighted the work of the UK Government in adopting the ‘safe system’ approach to road safety with a framework for protecting vulnerable road users, enforcement on speeding and drink-driving, uptake of safer vehicles and infrastructure safety with an objective that by 2020, 90% of travel on the Highways England strategic network will be on roads with a safety rating of three stars or better.

US Permanent Representative, Ambassador Samantha Power commended the inclusion of road safety in the Health Goal of the SDGs urging “all nations” to help address the crisis. “We urge all nations to help solve it, we urge every member state to address it through concrete public policy efforts.” The cost of road traffic injury is felt in the consequences for global development, she said. While road safety has improved in some countries, fatality rates have risen in 68 countries she said. “No one should feel satisfied with this progress. We have to do better,” she said.

In the Resolution, the UN General Assembly importantly acknowledges the links between road safety and other wider aspects of development, including the need to promote other modes of transport to protect the environment, and in the context of improved urban planning and city resilience. It also recognises that improved road safety can also contribute to broader health outcomes such as addressing non-communicable diseases – safe and clean mobility to combat issues such as obesity and respiratory problems.

Highlighting road safety as a development priority the Resolution recognises that road traffic injury is an equity and poverty issue noting that the poor are disproportionately affected as road crashes “can lead to a cycle of poverty exacerbated by income loss”.

In a session at the UN following the General Assembly debate, FIA Foundation Director of Advocacy Avi Silverman gave input on behalf the partnership between the FIA Foundation and UNICEF. He said: “This Resolution can feed into the Habitat III new urban agenda effectively. A priority must be the promotion of a safe and healthy journey to school for every child. Child rights and child health are at the core of this agenda. With its focus on the SDGs, this Resolution further strengthens the platform for partnership and action. We have been given the opportunity to engage in partnership at all levels to achieve these vital development objectives. We must take this opportunity – the lives and wellbeing of millions of children depend on it.”

On vehicle safety and in line with the Global NCAP programme, the Resolution calls on governments to adopt policies and measures to implement vehicle safety standards to ensure that all new motor vehicles meet applicable minimum regulations for the protection of occupants and other road users, with seat belts, airbags and active safety systems fitted as standard equipment.

Click here for the UN General Assembly Resolution on improving global road safety

View UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt’s speech in full here

Click here for Lord Robertson’s speech

Download the FIA Foundation’s input into Habitat III