Universal Access


  • In rural areas, where the majority of the world’s poor live, limited access to transport is a key challenge to eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable economic development.

  • Around 450 million people in Africa – or more than 70 percent of its total rural population – are estimated to have been left unconnected due to missing transport infrastructure and systems.

  • In urban areas, where an additional two billion people are expected to be living in cities by 2045, the growth in population is far outstripping the growth in public transport.

  • The lack of access to transport services has disproportionately negative impacts on specific groups like women and girls. For example, 6 in 10 women in major Latin American cities report they've been physically harassed while using transport systems.

Objective and Target

The universal access policy goal captures the ambition of transport “to connect all people and communities to economic and social opportunities, taking into account the needs of different groups, including the poor, those in vulnerable situations, women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, across geographical locations.”

Attainment of SDG target 11.2, by focusing on urban access, and SDG target 9.1, by focusing on rural access, should be the main targets (to be achieved by 2030) for the Universal Access objective. While both SDGs acknowledge that transport should “leave no one behind,” there is no internationally quantified target for this objective.

  • SDG 9.1 SDG 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.

  • SDG 11.2 SDG 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable, situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons. This is at the heart of the Habitat III New Urban Agenda.

Relationship to SDG’s

The concept of Universal Access features directly in two of the Sustainable Development Goal targets.