Excellency, Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Minister of Transport of Thailand,
Excellencies, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour and privilege for me to greet so many delegates and colleagues from across our region to the ministerial segment of the fourth Conference on Transport.
This Conference is taking place almost two years into a global health crisis that is still raging across the world. No other crisis in living memory has had such a profound effect on transport and mobility.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected transport connectivity and supply chains and exposed their weaknesses. Meanwhile, climate change continues to be a crisis in the backdrop of this pandemic.
Today it is clear that the transport sector ought to better articulate its role in addressing the climate change challenge, supporting climate resilience and contributing to the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
In this context, it will be crucial that governments commit to collective and concerted action as the most effective way forward and fully capitalize on opportunities for cooperation in the years to come.
Similarly, as we address the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must recover better from this unprecedented crisis through solidarity, a shared vision and strengthened cooperation at all levels.
Across transport modes for both freight and passengers, opportunities are now riper than ever for accelerated and transformative digitalization and greater use of smart transport and contactless solutions, as well as for a more balanced distribution of transport modes across multimodal supply chains.
Furthermore, the environmental impact of the transport sector is well-documented. Transport contributes to climate change and is vulnerable to climate change impacts and hazard-related disasters. This points to the need for rapid decarbonization of the regional networks and related operations.
There is also scope for policy instruments to make evidence-based interventions in support of greater use of railways, coastal shipping and transport by inland waterways for passengers and goods to support accelerated decarbonization of transport.
Therefore, it is timely and fitting that we convene for this important Conference to agree on a common vision for sustainable transport within and across regions and to support the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The region’s transport policies are now very much defined within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In our region, the notion of sustainable transport is anchored in connectivity, an essential cornerstone for encouraging multimodality, as well as for increasing efficiencies in transport operations.
The Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals calls for mobilizing regional action, raising ambitions and identifying solutions to persisting and emerging challenges.
In this effort, Governments must lead the way, working closely with civil society, the private sector, academia and beyond on transformative action for the transport sector to accelerate progress towards the Goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has lent additional urgency to the need for the transport sector to amplify efforts and synergies and to safeguard against future disruptions of this magnitude, as the Commission has recognized.
Allow me to highlight, non-exhaustively, some key policy directions that are necessary to ensure a recovery in line with the 2030 Agenda for your further deliberations and guidance:
• enhanced sustainability of freight and passenger transport;
• risk-informed infrastructure planning;
• application of smart transport and digital technologies;
• enhanced transport facilitation and multimodality;
• efficient functioning of cross-border logistics;
• effective corridor management; and
• improved road safety.
The Ministerial Declaration and the new Regional Action Programme for 2022-2026 that will be presented for adoption tomorrow cover these and other emerging priorities. They will be pivotal in addressing the region’s lagging sustainability performance and enhancing resilience to future crises by reducing deep-rooted social, economic and environmental challenges. They are also fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda.
By anchoring regional transport and connectivity in sustainability, there is a real opportunity to transform transport systems and services to follow a low-carbon development path, increase the use of clean energy and adopt innovations and emerging smart transport technologies to improve environmental sustainability.
I look forward to your discussions and to the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration on sustainable Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific and the Regional Action Programme for 2022-2026.
I wish you all fruitful deliberations and look forward to supporting the implementation of this important new pathway for transport in the Asia-Pacific region.
Thank you very much.