SuM4All is Taking Actions and Getting Better


——an interview with Ph. D Nancy Vandycke, lead economic expert and advisor of Transport & ICT of World Bank Group

  Tao Runyuan

As SuM4All's influence expands, more and more organizations and agencies join the initiative to apply experience to action and reach consensus on how to achieve sustainable mobility.

To achieve sustainable mobility, we must first understand the needs and contributions of each global stakeholder, and then find ways to coordinate the interests of all parties and meet the requirements of all parties.” Dr. Nancy Vandycke, Chief Economist, Department of Transportation and Digital Development, World Bank Group, told the reporter that the World Bank Group is a specialized and independent agency, part of the United Nations system operating international financial services. Two international advocacy programs led by the Bank, “Sustainable Mobility for All” and “Carbon Pricing Leadership Alliance” recently decided to work together to support the shipping industry. The goal is to help the industry achieve sustainable development by building an evolving alliance of maritime interests, where all stakeholders can explore, discuss and evaluate the feasibility of reducing carbon emissions. The “Sustainable Mobility for All” (SuM4All) Initiative played a key role in the initiation of this process.

During the 2018 World Transportation Congress, the reporter of Maritime China interviewed with Dr. Nancy Vandycke, who leads the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative on behalf of the World Bank.

Maritime China: SuM4All started in January 2016. Many people still don't know much about it. Can you talk about the role of SuM4All in developing a sustainable transportation action framework?

Nancy Vandycke: In the current international context, a binding framework of action is unlikely to be supported by all countries in the international community. Therefore, the development of a framework based on voluntary compliance is the basis for obtaining support from relevant governments. This seems to be the most realistic and a relatively constructive first step. Such an approach can help generate the necessary political will and mutual trust for a broader agreement.

In order to begin the development of a sustainable transport action framework, SuM4All is actively engaging with all stakeholders who need to be mobilized, including UN agencies, programmes and regional commissions, Global Civil Society Organizations, non-governmental organizations and policy makers in the countries. The development of an international plan of action requires the participation of international decision makers as well as at the country level – from ministers of transport and urban development to foreign affairs ministers, prime ministers or presidents.

In order to better align and determine goals, these decision makers should be fully aware about the issues and challenges, and engage in data- and fact-based dialogue. A key step is to explain the deficiencies in transportation development, how to support individual countries and global communities, and identify possible solutions. Several regional organizations and the United Nations regional committees have shown broad leadership in the formulation of transport policies and are determined to contribute to the development of a global sustainable transport framework. For example, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is an important body for the United Nations to develop transport-related treaties and has been a pioneer in the development of transport environmental standards in Europe. Similarly, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) has played an important role in developing traffic standards in the region and negotiating road and rail transport treaties. Beyond the UN System, the European Union (EU) also has extensive experience in this field.

Maritime China: What results have the SuM4All initiative achieved so far?

Nancy Vandycke: A series of international agreements have recently provided useful benchmarks, including the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 (Agenda 21), United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio +20), Sustainable Development Goal (aka SDGs), New Urban Agenda, Vienna Landlocked National Programme of Action and Paris Climate Agreement, United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference. In order to maximize the impact of these efforts, it is time to combine all of these components into a single, detailed and action-oriented strategy.

SuM4All partners have embarked on a sustainable transport action framework, and more and more organizations and organizations have joined the initiative to apply experience to action and reach consensus on how to achieve sustainable mobility. The first draft of our "Global Transport Roadmap of Action" was discussed during the Leipzig International Transport Forum in May this year and will also be reviewed at the next Consortium meeting of SuM4All. This will provide a starting point for actively cooperating with relevant governments and responding to mobility crises that cannot be ignored globally. The initiative is working to improve the image of sustainable transport in the global development agenda and to unite the international community around an accessible, efficient, safe and green transport vision.

The issue of mobility and sustainability resonates with the concerns of countries. Recent United Nations resolutions have focused on the role of transport and transit corridors in sustainable development, demonstrating the dependence and importance of governments around the world on transport and mobility issues.

Maritime China: For many years, the transportation sector has been looking for solutions to reduce its carbon footprint. Shipping has always been considered the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, but why is maritime emissions a global priority now?

Nancy Vandycke: Solving emissions problems in the shipping industry is just as important as other modes of transportation. First, ships carry around 80 percent of the world trade volume, and 70 percent of its value. In addition, although shipping is considered to be the most energy efficient mode of transportation, it still uses a large amount of so-called marine fuels, which are by-products of crude oil refining and cause significant damage to the environment. Several major global companies are now calling on the maritime sector to accept the challenges of the status quo and work to control its impact on the climate.

From our perspective, there are at least three main reasons why maritime emissions are becoming a global priority. The first is the challenge of rising emissions. If the shipping industry is seen as an independent country, it would be the world's sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases between Japan and Germany. Although the industry's share of global emissions is currently between 2% and 3%, demand for shipping is soaring and emissions are increasing. From 2015 to 2016 alone, this is the slowest year in more than a decade, but the growth of the global fleet is still more than 3.5%. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that shipping carbon emissions may increase by 50%-250%. Second, the international aviation and international shipping sectors are not part of the climate change objectives set out in the Paris Agreement. Therefore, these two industries are not included in the national climate action plans submitted by countries, and are often referred to as Voluntary Commitment. In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted its International Aviation Carbon Offset and Emission Reduction Program (CORSIA) to address carbon emissions on international flights. If the shipping industry cannot take corresponding measures or plans, it is estimated that by 2050, the shipping industry's carbon emissions will account for 10%-17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Keeping global warming below 2 °C poses a major threat. Controlling the major emissions coming from shipping is therefore extremely important for the overall success of climate action. If this cannot be achieved, how can we expect other poor and vulnerable countries understand and act on their targets? When the industry is exempt from obligations, other sectors may be less inclined to proactively address climate change. The third is to open the window of opportunity. The pressure on the international maritime industry has been increasing in recent years. For example, in February 2017 the European Parliament voted in favor of including shipping in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) by 2023, unless the International Maritime Organization itself proposed similar climate regulations. In this context, the International Maritime Organization has pledged in April 2018 to adopt the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and also conduct the first global inventory measurement on the progress of climate action in the sector, followed by a revision of the climate strategy of the International Maritime Organization in 2023.

(With support from Hong Yang, Research Assistant from SuM4All)

Source: Maritime China Magazine