59 United Nations inland transport conventions, administered by UNECE, provide a harmonized framework for the development of sustainable transport systems, covering road, rail, and inland waterways, facilitating mobility of people and the movement of goods. 147 countries, including 91 outside the UNECE region, are contracting parties to at least one of these agreements.
As one dimension of this work, the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, hosted by UNECE, is the intergovernmental platform that defines the technical requirements applied by the automotive sector worldwide. These help drive constant progress in safety and environmental performance and facilitate the widespread introduction of new technologies. The Forum’s secretariat of 10 UNECE staff, leveraging a network of 2,600 experts, produces binding legislation for the automotive sector, which in the EU alone represents 4% of GDP and employs 12 million people.
UNECE is home to the key UN international legal instruments on road safety. These conventions - covering road signs and signals, road traffic, the transport of dangerous goods and vehicle safety – offer practical tools to address the major causes of road crashes. In EU and EFTA countries, the implementation of these practical tools has contributed to a sharp reduction in road fatalities, saving some 20,000 lives per year between 2005 and 2015.
Given this unique role, UNECE hosts the Secretariat to the UN Road Safety Trust Fund, gathering all road safety stakeholders to mobilize much needed resources for strengthened action, in addition to the secretariat to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety.
UNECE helps to build countries’ capacities to develop comprehensive national road safety systems. Road Safety Performance Reviews have provided Albania, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Uganda and Vietnam with key practical steps to improve their road safety situations.
Since 2002, the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP) has brought together key actors including member States, academia, civil society and experts to work towards a common purpose: sustainable, clean and healthy transport. Leveraging its expertise on sustainable transport and environmental policy, UNECE jointly services THE PEP with WHO Europe.
UNECE has developed a number of practical tools to support the development of sustainable mobility, including:
- ForFITS - to determine the benefits in reduced CO2 emissions to a city or country from a change in transport policy.
- SafeFITS - to assess the potential reductions in road fatalities from road safety policy measures that could be taken by governments.
- - Guidance on sustainable urban mobility, managed mobility schemes, alternative forms of transport and a review of green Jobs in the transport sector.
- Thorough transport statistics and data gathering activities help to ensure that member States have robust data upon which to develop policy decisions.
Through legal instruments, policy support and by facilitating regional cooperation, UNECE assists countries to reap the benefits of rail and inland waterway transport in terms of reduced logistics costs, improved safety, environmental protection and addressing road traffic congestion. This happens through such things as the Code of Practice for the Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code), which improves working conditions by making the movement of goods in containers safer.