An efficient road network can directly contribute to sustainable transport connectivity, regional integration and economic growth. An efficient and sustainable network enables time and cost savings and enhanced trade through cross-border facilitation.
However, the connectivity of road networks can be hampered by challenges such as long waiting times at borders, poor road sections, differences in vehicle safety requirements, driving restrictions in some areas, lack of adequate insurance products covering cross border and transit transport of vehicles, different formats for road signs, signals, and markings, visa application processes for professional drivers.
Road transport remains the dominant mode for both inland transport in most UNECE countries. For freight, the share of tonne-kilometres by road is over 50 per cent in 15 of the 23 countries with available data, with the share of passenger kilometres by road at over 70% in all of these countries, and up to 90% in some member States.
As the centre for the UN inland transport conventions, UNECE makes a tangible and wide-ranging contribution to sustainable cross-border road transport connectivity. These legal instruments cover everything from border crossing facilitation, traffic rules, road signs and signals, vehicle construction, the transport of dangerous goods and much more.
One example is the TIR Convention, a unique global customs transit system that enables the secure and seamless movement of goods across borders for 76 Contracting Parties in Europe, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The TIR system is used by over 34,000 transport and logistic companies, reducing cross-border transport time by up to 80%, and costs by up to 38%.
In light of the importance of the road sector for cross-border and transit transport, UNECE, IRU, PIARC and IRF are jointly convening an exploration of “Sustainable road transport connectivity across borders”. The discussion will be held on 23 May 2019 as a side event in the context of the International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig, Germany.
This will provide the opportunity for senior representatives from partner organizations, high-level speakers from governments, the private sector and NGOs to exchange experience and good practices on the three pillars of sustainable road transport: efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability. This will enable in particular the sharing of challenges faced for road transport networks and operations, using these challenges as an opportunity to highlight the successful infrastructure and facilitation solutions which they have implemented, are piloting or which are emerging.
There will be a spotlight on various challenges relating to traffic rights, customs, contracts on the international carriage of goods by road, road safety, visa for professional drivers and crew, insurance, emission control, dimensions of vehicles, infrastructure standards, road signs and signals, vehicle regulations, the transport of dangerous goods and commercial driver fatigue. Innovative infrastructure projects, pilot projects or initiatives from around the world will also be discussed.
UNECE will also be sharing its expertise and perspectives in the Summit’s Ministerial Segment. Additionally, UNECE will contribute to a consortium meeting and Steering Committee meeting of the multistakeholder Sum4All initiative.