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World Bank Broadens Transport Agenda

Press Release No:2008/319/SDN

Contacts
In Washington:
Roger Morier (202) 473 5675, rmorier@worldbank.org
Anna Piasecka (202) 458 7027, apiasecka@worldbank.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21, 2008 – The World Bank Group today launched a new transport business strategy for 2008-2012 that will help partner countries establish the governance, strategies, policies and services to deliver transport for development in a way that is economically, financially, environmentally and socially sustainable.

Called Safe, Clean, and Affordable… Transport for Development, the business strategy strengthens the alignment of the transport sector approach with the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2000.   At the same time, it widens the directions and deepens the routes that will be taken to meet the evolving development agenda. It gives more attention to emerging trends, such as trade globalization, urbanization of populations; rising concerns about climate change, the increase in traffic congestion; and the recognition of access as a key to both economic opportunity and good governance.

In striving to achieve its development objectives—and foremost to eradicate poverty—the World Bank Group is mobilizing the transport sector to the fullest possible extent,” said Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development.  ”To that end, the transport business strategy aligns Bank Group instruments along a few key strategic directions that will pave the way to truly sustainable development, one where transport plays a crucial role.”

“In a world with rising levels of greenhouse gases, poor road safety, and the too-frequent spread of communicable diseases along international routes, transport must be looked at anew. A coherent way forward requires innovative thinking and cooperation among sectors to optimize the role of transport without jeopardizing personal and commercial mobility.”

The Bank Group consulted widely in preparing its new business strategy, seeking contributions from over 75 transport development partners, governments, professional institutions, civil society organizations, multilateral and bilateral donors, and putting an early draft on its external website for four months to elicit public comments.

Safe Transport
Acknowledging the importance of transport for achieving public health outcomes within the Millennium Development Goals, the strategy stresses the need to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to address safety in all transport modes, especially road transport.   It also addresses the safety issue in air transport which, although globally much safer, still shows a safety record significantly affecting growth and investment prospects in some regions, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa. Transport and supply-chain security has also become a major issue in ensuring fair access of developing country exports to developed markets, and needs to be addressed as a new global public good.  

“Road crashes kill an estimated 1.2 million people a year and injure 50 million more, disproportionately affecting the poor,” said Anthony Bliss, Lead Road Safety Specialist, Program Coordinator for the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility. “We are placing special emphasis on road safety, extending our support to include not only road safety components embedded in road infrastructure projects, but also larger stand-alone projects to formulate national policies and strategies that would improve road safety across the board. We will also pursue cross-sectoral approaches, such as including pre-hospital components in road programs and road safety components in health programs.”

Clean Transport
Urban air pollution, 90 percent of it generated by motor vehicles, kills an estimated 800,000 people each year. Transport now produces approximately 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reflecting the contribution of transport to the wider environmental aims of the Millennium Development Goals, the strategy encompasses the transport-energy-environment nexus, from the energy consumption to the emissions and climate change impact perspectives. Going forward, the World Bank Group will be working to help restrain transport energy consumption. It will be assessing and controlling transport projects emissions, favoring shifts to low carbon modes.

“We are setting guidelines for environmentally effective transport planning and decision making,” said Jamal Saghir, Director, Energy, Transport and Water Department and Chair of the Transport Sector Board“We are seeking ways to mitigate the effects of transport on the climate—and the effects of climate change on transport asset. We intend to build climate change issues into transport project appraisals where appropriate.”

Affordable Transport
An estimated 1 billion people in low-income countries lack access to an all-weather road. Affordable transport can enhance mobility and inclusion. It can promote social, economic, and political integration, by keeping a country together despite geographic disparities, by overcoming potential disputes over access to resources, and by defusing the seeds of conflict that sometimes arise from feelings of isolation.

Marc Juhel, Sector Manager for Transport stressed the fact that affordability concerns not only the rural and urban poor, but also the whole freight economy, aiming at improving competitiveness to foster stronger economic growth:

“The strategy stresses the need for better knowledge and control of transport costs, for both passengers and freight, on domestic and regional, urban and rural settings. The implementation of an effective urban transport strategy, reaching out to the growing urban poor population, is a key element of this approach. On the freight side, the cooperative work on trade and transport facilitation—in particular on customs and transit issues—will be strengthened.”

World Bank contribution to transport over previous decade
Since the Bank’s 1996 transport strategy, Sustainable Transport, was endorsed by the World Bank’s Board of Directors, the Bank Group has committed around US$42 billion for more than 530 dedicated transport operations and transport components in over 500 non-transport specific projects in more than 100 client countries. Lending in fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007) reached over US$5 billion, amounting to 20 percent of World Bank Group new annual commitments.


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