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2020 - Intermodal transport and logistics’ role in making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Workshop in the framework of UNECE Working Party on Intermodal Transport and Logistics (WP.24)

28 October 2020

WP.24 held, in the framework of the current session, a workshop on Intermodal transport and logistics’ role in making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The workshop was founded on the following considerations:

  • Urban freight transport plays an essential role in cities development and prosperity, as it delivers the numerous goods to where they are purchased, further processed or consumed;
  • Urban freight transport is responsible for negative impacts on citizens’ health and wellbeing due to air and noise emissions it generates and due to road safety risk it creates;
  • Urban freight transport requires solutions that maximise transport access and connectivity and at the same minimise negative externalities transport operations create.


The workshop considered various policy-, logistics- and technology-based measures and practices to support development of urban freight transport in a sustainable way. The workshop agreed that:

  • The principle bodies responsible for managing freight urban transport should be city administrations in charge of the entire metropolitan area;
  • City administrations should receive the necessary political, financial, and where appropriate regulatory support from national authorities; they should be given the necessary flexibility in application of the most suitable solutions, as there are no-one fits all solutions;
  • City administrations may be benefiting from collaboration in the networks of cities, to which end they may establish city logistics networks;
  • City administrations should closely work with academia and/or private sector partners in pursuit for innovative solutions; entities such as catalysts or incubators may be created to assist the innovative solutions uptake in cities;
  • City administrations should involve public and seek public consensus for developing city logistics;
  • Logistics-based measures should be facilitated through proving and/or supporting their business-case rather than simply application of bans for competing logistics operations;
  • Specific application of logistics- and technology-based measures may receive support through financial incentives programmes, especially at an early stage of their application;
  • Changes to land-use planning of city districts should incorporate effective, business-case-proven solutions for freight transport in the districts;
  • More technological progress is needed, among others to decrease price for the uptake of the existing sustainable logistics-supportive technologies, to improve their business-case;
  • Logistics physical internet/containerization appears as a promising concept which could further transform logistics and facilitate city logistics; development of international standards should aid development of physical internet; and • Solutions supporting efficient freight transport such as e.g. decarbonization pricing can help establish business-case for more sustainable logistics.



Cities are hubs for local, and often regional and national development. The better cities provide access to and connect various markets such as labour, investment, education, commerce, recreation and health care, the better they can proposer and support the development. In turn, the market accessibility and connectivity are influenced by planning of city spaces (land-use) and transport solutions. The latter encompass solutions for passenger and freight transport.

As freight transport in urban areas delivers the numerous goods to where they are purchased, further processed or consumed, it plays an essential role for the development. On the other hand, freight transport is also responsible for negative impacts on citizens’ health and well-being due to air and noise emissions it generates and due to road safety risk it creates.

Urban freight transport requires thus solutions thanks to which goods can be delivered to their destinations effectively and economically while the negative externalities are minimized. This requires combined and mixed measures and multi-disciplinary collaboration. Partial solutions tend to deliver inferior results in medium to longer terms. E.g., experience shows that specific operational bans on freight transport such as restrictions in terms of size, weight, route, emissions, timeframes, or loading and delivery bans, which seemed to deliver positive results in terms of limitation of externalities in a short term, proved to result in more freight vehicle travel in a medium to longer term and, in turn, led to increasing air pollution and noise emissions and made traffic more dangerous. This being said, specific operational bans can prove effective if combined with other measures.

Measure mixes should thus incorporate measures which can be classified as:

  • Policy-based measures e.g.: spatial planning solutions, incentive and restriction measures,
  • Logistics-based measures e.g.: collaborative freight management (freight villages), intermodal reloading points (heavy duty vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to cargo bicycle),
  • Technology-based measures e.g.: alternative fuel vehicles, power transmission systems, ITS/IT solution.

As part of these measure mixes, combined or intermodal transport measures can play an important role in the attempt to make freight transport in city areas sustainable, e.g. the main leg on rail can be combined with a short initial or final leg on road by using for example E-lorries.

The design and implementation of combined and mixed measures to make them effective for optimizing urban freight transport operations and minimising their externalities, thus making urban freight transport sustainable, requires collaboration of relevant stakeholders. Hauliers, retailers, city and state authorities, urban planners, industry associations and academia are those stakeholders who should collaborate.

Sharing of experience in creating stakeholder collaboration, presentation on the designed measure mixes, and lessons learned from their implementation can be of great value and help everybody, through learning from others, to look for measures that can render better results.

It is for this purpose that UNECE and the Working Party on Intermodal Transport and Logistics will hold a workshop to exchange and share good practices for organisation of sustainable freight transport in cities.



10:00-10:30 Opening and introduction to the workshop
10:30-13:00 Policy-based measures (presentations and discussion)

Lunch break

14:30-16:00 Logistics-based measures (presentations and discussion)
16:15-17:45 Technology-based measures (presentations and discussion)
17:45-18:00 Conclusions and closing

Detailed programme

Mr. Lukasz Wyrowski, Secretary to WP.24, Sustainable Transport Division, UNECE

Ms. Gulnara Roll, Secretary, Committee on Urban Development,
Housing and Land Management, UNECE

European Commission’s Urban Mobility Package: Guidelines for “Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs)
Mr. Fons Verhelst, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission

Austrian policy approach on urban sustainable mobility and project examples
Ms. Julia Elsinger, Vice-Chair of WP.24 and Deputy Head of Department I/K4 – Combined Transport, Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria

Funding guidelines for Urban Logistics
Ms. Sarah Seidemann, Assistant Head of Division G 14, Freight Transport and Logistics, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Germany

The approach of Stuttgart Region in Germany to developing sustainable and competitive sites for intermodal transport and logistics
Mr. Thomas Kiwitt, Managing Director Head of Planning, Verband Region Stuttgart

Sagarmala project, the city angle and connection to rural settlements
Mr. Manohar Velpuri, President, AbsolutAssets

Freight Forwarding/ City Logistics Concept Basel
Mr. Luca Olivieri, Cantonal Administration Basel-City

RemiHub - Public transport facilities as urban logistic hubs
Mr. Roland Hackl, Mobility and Urban Planning Expert, tbw research GesmbH

Thinkport Vienna
Mr. Martin Posset, Chief Innovation Officer, thinkport VIENNA -smart urban logistics lab

Requirements for new urban freight transportation
Prof Dr. Jan Ninnemann, Professor of Logistics Academic, Head of B.Sc. Logistics Management, HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) for successful air delivery of freight packaging
Ms. Jonelle Hanson, Senior Consultant, Systematica  Mr. Rawad Choubassi, Partner, Director, Systematica

Bicycles – a last-mile urban freight solution in congested cities in the Global South
Mr. Tomaž Cigüt, Urban Mobility, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

Central Consolidation Centres: The Gateway to Urban Freight Electrification and the Physical Internet
Mr. Sam Starr Manager, On Demand Delivery & Customer Service at Corporate Couriers Logistics

Decongestion pricing: why and how to support more efficient goods delivery
Mr. Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute