As we enter the second year of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, there is widespread recognition that road traffic crashes and injuries represent an unacceptable, and underfunded, public health crisis. Currently, 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads each year and 9 0 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with an economic cost that can exceed total overseas aid flowing in. Road traffic deaths are second only to AIDS-related deaths and they equal or surpass deaths from tuberculosis and malaria. Partners around the world are rallying behind the Decade of Action goals of raising awareness of the impacts of road crashes on global public health and reducing road deaths by 50 percent by 2020. However, while the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved funding of over $23.7 billion, current projected funding for road safety is far below this. Meeting the international goals on road safety thus presents a tough challenge to the global community.
The World Bank is committed to supporting the Decade of Action for Road Safety and the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) is an essential part of this effort. In 2006, to help address the growing road safety crisis, the Bank established the GRSF with support from the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, the Government of the Netherlands, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Australian Agency for International Development. In 2011, the Bloomberg Family Foundation became the newest contributor to the GRSF.
Since its inception, the GRSF has helped the Bank move from a piecemeal approach to road safety to a more comprehensive, systematic Safe System approach in its operations. In 2008, the Bank made road safety a pillar of its strategy for the transport sector: Safe, Clean and Affordable Transport for Development. The GRSF contributed to the launch of the United Nations Decade of Action on May 11, 2011 and leads the Bank’s participation in the UN Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC), which brings together the World Health Organization, the multilateral development banks (MDBs), bilateral donors, civil society organizations, foundations, and private sector actors committed to road safety. The MDB Road Safety Initiative, which was launched by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in April 2011, is also animated by the GRSF.
A sustained commitment by the international development community, and in particular a strong partnership between the health and transport sectors, will be needed to meet the Decade goals. The GRSF is committed to building global institutional capacity for road safety management and improving road safety outcomes. The longer-term goals of the GRSF, as an integral part of the international effort to stem the growth of road casualties, will require a substantial increase in donor commitments, and we call upon our bilateral partners, philanthropies, and the private sector to continue their collaboration with the GRSF to achieve success during the Decade.
GRSF: Building Capacity for Safer Roads
Global Road Safety Facility Strategic Plan 2006-2015
Global Road Safety Facility Strategic Activities Update
MDB Road Safety Initiative:
A Development Priority