Excellency Mr. Chayatan Phromsorn, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport of Thailand,
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Senior Official Segment of the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Transport.
In December 2016, the Regional Action Programme adopted by the Third Ministerial Conference on Transport set Asia and the Pacific on a course towards sustainable transport development for 2017 to 2021.
As this 5-year plan comes to completion, we see that the region’s transport systems and logistics have shown notable progress. However, our region has also experienced significant changes, because of the unprecedented global health crisis which has transformed how we live, do business and travel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected transport connectivity and supply chains and exposed their weaknesses, such as inadequate resilience of infrastructure, weak operational connectivity, insufficient digitalization and application of new technologies, high environmental footprint and a rising number of road death and injuries, just to name a few.
Countries in special situations, which already suffered from lower levels of connectivity before the crisis, have been affected the most, further widening regional transport connectivity gaps.
Our member States have made great efforts to preserve transport connectivity during the pandemic and demonstrated great adaptability, but there still much to be done.
Stronger and concerted efforts are needed to build back better and more sustainably from this crisis.
We are at a juncture where we should accelerate meaningful change in transport systems and logistics to address deep-rooted social, economic and environmental challenges and enhance resilience to future crises.
The new Regional Action Programme for 2022-2026 that will be presented for adoption during this Conference offers a new roadmap for a transport system needed to address regional challenges and ensure full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
In transport infrastructure development and operational connectivity, the Asian Highway, Trans-Asian Railway and dry ports networks are increasingly integrated with interregional transport corridors, port and shipping links.
Moving forward, they can be further leveraged to promote infrastructure and operational connectivity reforms in support of a seamless, integrated web of multimodal transport connections underpinning the regional and global economy.
One of the most notable lessons from the current crisis includes the need for greater digitalization, innovation and use of smart transport and contactless solutions to enhance resilience and sustainability of transport systems and logistics.
Furthermore, the well-documented environmental impact of the transport sector points to the need for rapid decarbonization of the regional transport networks and related operations, including through more balanced and sustainable freight modal split and greater use of railways.
The outbreak of COVID-19 also had a profound impact on urban transport, accessibility and mobility. These challenges provide new momentum to transport and city planners to rethink their approach to mobility, including through transition to electric mobility in public transport.
To support these efforts, ESCAP last month unveiled at the climate change conference in Glasgow plans for an Asia-Pacific Initiative on Electric Mobility.
The General Assembly has proclaimed 2021 to 2030 as the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety, with a goal of cutting by half road traffic deaths and injuries; in response, ESCAP is preparing an Asia-Pacific regional plan of action in support of this initiative.
Stronger efforts are needed to eliminate gender gaps and inequalities in terms of access to transport and related opportunities to address the social dimensions of sustainable development.
Even though the transport sector, which is instrumental to attaining the SDGs, took a significant hit during the pandemic, countries demonstrated an ability to move and adapt swiftly to maintain functionality and resilience.
The opportunities are riper than ever to take bold new steps towards low-carbon and inclusive development. A new Regional Action Programme can prove to be pivotal in addressing the region’s lagging performance and enhancing resilience to future crises.
I am pleased to see the interest and participation of ESCAP members, associate members and permanent observers, as well as partners and organizations at this year’s Ministerial Conference.
This is a testament to the important contribution that the outcomes of this Conference can make to achieving sustainability.
I wish you all fruitful deliberations and look forward to supporting the implementation of this important new regional action programme.
Thank you very much.