Excellency, Mr. Sevenitini Toumoua, Minister for Infrastructure of Tonga,
Excellency, Mr. Chanphal Ngy, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior of Cambodia,
Mr. Jean Todt, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Road Safety,
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
Road safety remains a development issue of our concern, considering its magnitude and gravity and consequent negative impacts.
Each year, more than 700,000 lives are lost on the roads in Asia and the Pacific, with a significant portion of these tragedies occurring in our densely populated urban areas.
In our cities, the challenges of road safety are amplified due to increased traffic density, complex road infrastructure and the coexistence of various transportation modes.
It is here, in the bustling streets of our urban centers, that we often witness the vulnerability of pedestrians, cyclists and motorized two-wheeled users.
Despite a 12 per cent reduction in road traffic fatalities between 2016 and 2019, our first Decade of Action for Road Safety was completed with an unfinished agenda.
Thus, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2021-2030 as the second Decade of Action for Road Safety, setting an ambitious target of preventing at least 50 per cent of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal targets 3.6 and 11.2 to improve road safety.
In this new decade, the focus on urban road safety takes centre stage. The urban dimension of road safety is integrated into our efforts as we work towards creating safer cities for all.
It is imperative that we address the unique challenges that our urban areas face, from improving road infrastructure and public transport to ensuring the safety of vulnerable road users.
In line with the global mandate, ministers of the Asia-Pacific region adopted a five-year high-level strategic direction through the new Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific (2022-2026), in which road safety was identified and highlighted as one of the key thematic areas.
Furthermore, in November 2022, the Committee on Transport welcomed the Regional Plan of Action for Asia and the Pacific for the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 with an ambitious vision to ensure the Asia-Pacific region becomes increasingly free of the human suffering and economic burden of road crash deaths and injuries.
We are closely working with members to improve road safety. In addition to building regional consensus and analytical work, ESCAP has been supporting a number of members in tackling their key challenges.
Through the United Nations Road Safety Fund, six projects have been launched to overcome the pressing challenges, targeting motorized two-wheeler safety in South-East Asia, infrastructure safety in North and Central Asia and strengthening institutional capacities in South and South-West Asian countries.
With support from the United Nations Development Account, ESCAP has just launched a new project on sustainable and low-emission urban mobility planning in North and Central Asia in partnership with UN-Habitat and UNEP.
Excellencies, distinguished participants,
At this critical juncture, it is important to redouble our efforts and ensure our commitments at the highest level. It is, thus, timely that we have this parallel session to discuss the topic.
As we gather here today, let us redouble our efforts to make our urban areas safer for all. I would like to express my gratitude to the Special Envoy for jointly organizing this session and to all dignitaries and experts for joining us in this discussion.
I wish you all very good luck for a fruitful discussion this afternoon. Together, we can make our roads safer and more sustainable.
Thank you very much.