Dear Ministers, Excellencies, Friends,
Welcome to the Open Ministerial Session of the 2021 Virtual Summit of the International Transport Forum. I would like to thank the Government of Ireland, and in particular Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, for chairing this year’s Ministerial under the Irish ITF Presidency.
I first attended the Annual Leipzig Summit in 2012. At that time, the ITF was going through a challenging period and I was determined to help set it back on track.
One decade on, the ITF has truly blossomed. It has added a dozen new member countries. The ITF Summit has firmly established itself as the world’s premier transport policy event – the “agora” of the global dialogue for better transport. Crucially, the ITF’s relevance has increased and the impact of its work is evident around the globe. And it will be more and more important in the post-COVID era.
Let me focus on three key areas.
First, the ascendancy of the ITF has coincided with a surge in the interest in mobility issues. This is largely thanks to the incredible boost of innovation that the transport sector has been experiencing, including: self-driving cars, mega-ships and mega-trucks, ride-sharing services, electric scooters and drones, among others. The ITF is hard at work at unlocking challenges and opportunities presented by such emerging transport and logistics technologies.
Second, transport has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns have made very apparent our dependency on the physical movement of people and goods. The word “connectivity” makes most people think of bits and bytes, not busses and bicycles. But the pandemic has taught us how utterly irreplaceable physical connectivity is.
To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, we must make sure that the transport of the future is sustainable, affordable, equitable and resilient. But first, we need to focus on enabling travel again. To this end, I am proud that the OECD and the ITF have joined forces in an initiative – led by the Spanish Government – to develop a blueprint to make international mobility safe again. This will be presented at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) on the 31st of May.
And third, transport has become a crucial policy arena in helping us to tackle climate change. The ITF Transport Outlook 2021, launched last week, sees transport demand doubling by 2050 and paints a stark alternative if CO2 are not reduced decisively.
The recovery from COVID-19 presents us with a unique opportunity to build a greener future, including in the transport sector. As countries prepare the first revision of their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement for COP26 in November, we need to be ambitious. Shedding 70% of transport carbon emissions over the next three decades, will help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
At the May MCM we will launch a new International Programme for Action on Climate (IPAC) to support countries to implement the goals of the Paris Agreement, through a set of climate-related indicators, tailored recommendations and best practices. I am glad that ITF is involved in IPAC and will contribute to the programme through its unique expertise on transport. Remember, addressing climate change is our single most important intergenerational responsibility to save the planet!
As my tenure as Secretary-General comes to an end, I would like to thank you all for your support and wish the ITF all the best in its endeavour to shape what my friend Young Tae Kim has aptly called “The Great Transport Transformation”.
I am confident that my successor, Mr. Mathias Cormann, will continue to work with you, and for you, to exploit the enormous potential that the close collaboration between the ITF and the OECD holds. Together we can design, develop and deliver better transport policies for better lives in the post-COVID world.