Skip to main content
European Commission logo

World Leaders commit to new sustainable development agenda calling for more public transport


Global leaders from all nations agreed on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for our planet at the three-day UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in New York (25-27 September).
The 17 goals aim to eradicate poverty and secure economic, social and environmentally sustainable development over the next 15 years.
For the world to achieve these ambitious goals, it is crucial to utilise the strength of the public transport sector.  This is because sustainable transport solutions are necessary to achieve several of the UN’s development goals, and there is a specific target on the need to expand public transport for the cities of the future (SGD 11).
Public transport is a key component if the world is to achieve the objectives of economic growth, sustainable infrastructure and to limit climate change
However, public transport is also a key component if the world is to achieve the objectives of economic growth, sustainable infrastructure and naturally, to limit climate change. This will require urban transport systems that are accessible to everyone and that benefits trade and business in a sustainable way.
Progress will be made only if the Goals and targets are approached in a holistic, integrated manner—and advances in funding sustainable public transport, which links so many of the Goals, will be critical.
Secondly, we need to ensure that we track progress made on meeting the targets so that national governments can put in place the appropriate policies and investment.  It is for this reason that UITP and around 130 of its members around the globe have made a new commitment to enhance reporting towards the Goals, through theUITP Sustainability Charter.  The network will help the public transport sector to better report progress which in turn will support national governments deliver on their commitment to ‘expand’ public transport.
For the climate talks in Paris that will be concluded at the end of the year (COP21) to be a success, a shared understanding on the complementarily of sustainable development, economic growth and climate responsibility is needed. The Goals have the potential to provide coherence in international efforts but importantly, provide a clear signal on where to invest.  This new commitment combined with the UITP Sustainability Charter will be a key part of the ‘solution agenda’ for transport at COP21.
For the past years, UITP has been working with UN member states to raise awareness of the importance of public transport to the future sustainable development agenda.  Our voice has clearly been heard and will continue to be as an adviser to the UN through its membership of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s high level advisory group for sustainable transport[1].
Upon the launch of the new agenda, Gunnar Heipp, the chair of the UITP Sustainable Development Commission said “Public transport is particularly important in fast-growing cities in the developing world. We have an historic opportunity to facilitate adequate policies that will avoid unsustainable practices as cities grow, strengthening better services and incentivising the use of clean means of public transport and the UITP Charter can be a key means to facilitate this.”
“Everybody is committed to these goals – governments are committed, civil society is committed, academia is committed, the private sector is committed – everyone owns these sustainable development goals,” explained Nikhil Seth, Director of UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development.