The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs.
The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy.
Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:
- A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
- B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
- C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
- D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
- E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts
- F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
- M Materials
- S Synthesis Projects
The Terms of Reference (TOR) define two main objectives for this research project:
- Development of criteria and indicators for a sustainable transportation development
Sound ecological criteria and measurements in relation to air pollution, greenhouse gases, variety of species etc. are to be developed within the scope of this task. The contribution of the concept of true costing to sustainability is also to be investigated. The results of this work should be applicable on the level of the mid-term (4 years) governmental planning for the transport sector.
- Preparation, execution and evaluation of a Workshop
The workshop's objective is to discuss the proposed solutions and to promote the concept of sustainability within the other projects of NRP 41. The results of the study are to be introduced into all projects of NRP 41 in order to make the sustainability concept more transparent and concrete.
In accordance with the TOR, solutions with a practical orientation as well as the implementation of the research results are given priority. This means that understandable results are required which can be widely communicated and which have clear applicability to transportation planning and legislation.
In view of the intended use of the criteria and their respective indicators, the project is limited to the specific situation in Switzerland, taking into account the European context as appropriate.
In addition to ecological and economic criteria, the study also considers social criteria and indicators in as much as they are relevant to the sub-system 'traffic'.
Sustainability becomes measurable: 'Sustainability' has become an increasingly important term as a result of the United Nations Conference in Rio. What exactly is meant by 'sustainable development' in the transport sector has been investigated in this report.
Sustainability comprises three dimensions: Ecology, Economy, and Society.
Therefore, in the report authors propose a set of criteria by which it is possible to judge whether a transport system is environmentally friendly, economically efficient, and socially fair.
The authors list 21 measurable indicators in all, complete with target values in some instances. The most important of these 21 indicators are:
- Emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO²
- Noise and air pollution
- Size of unfragmented areas
- Coverage of all social costs
- Prices of transport services
- Access to regional centres by public transport
- Participation of the public in decision-making
A comparison of actual and target values shows that Switzerland requires the greatest action in respect of ecological sustainability. However, since traffic incurs billions in uncovered costs, economical and social sustainability are likewise not being achieved.