The joint United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Workshop on “Climate Change Impacts on International Transport Networks” held under the auspices of the Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics (WP.5) in September 2010 raised awareness about the important challenges that climate change impacts and adaptation requirements present for international transport networks. This complex set of issues has so far received little attention.
The workshop highlighted that while transport is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions it is, at the same time, heavily affected by the impacts of climate change. This workshop demonstrated the urgent need to prepare appropriate policy actions, as well as the need to exchange information about best practices and concluded that there is considerable merit in establishing a new expert group to study the matter.
In accordance with its Terms of Reference, the Group of Experts completed its work within two years (2015–2017) and submited a full report of its accomplishments. The Group of Experts based its considerations on the previous work of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in this field, in particular, the output of the Group of Experts on Climate Change Impacts and Adaption for International Transport Networks and its final report (ECE/TRANS/238) and recommendations published in 2013 and adopted by the Inland Transport Committee at its seventy-sixth session (ECE/TRANS/240, para. 20).
The Group of Experts assisted in:
(a) Identify and establish, if possible, inventories of transport networks in the ECE region which are vulnerable to climate change impacts, if possible in a geographic information system (GIS) environment;
(b) Use/develop models, methodologies, tools and good practices to address potential extreme hazards (e.g. high temperatures and floods) to selected inland transport infrastructure in the ECE region under different scenarios of climate change;
(c) Identification and analysis of case studies on the potential economic, social, and environmental consequences of the climate change impacts and provide a cost/benefit analysis of the adaptation options.
Between 2017 and 2019, having its mandate extended, the Group of Expert procuded a second report focusing on analysing the impacts of climate change on main transport assets in the ECE region. It also formulated a series of lessons learned which have served as a basis to recommend future action at national and international levels towards improved transportation system climate resilience.