Although the ministerial conference itself runs over the course of only two days, I think it may more accurately be described as a global road safety week. This week in Stockholm is packed with high-level seminars and mini-conferences that each tackle high-impact issues and engage key stakeholders in the work to improve global road safety.
In fact, I myself started already in January by speaking about the role of the private sector at a few official side-events in Washington and San Francisco. And many other similar events have taken place in different parts of the world in the time leading up to this seminal event. I think this shows just how high the level of engagement is in the public and private sector on the road safety struggle.
This seems like good news to me, since the topic of road safety have so far not been a frequent concern in the general public consciousness, nor on the top of the political agenda, nor a frequent flyer in media. The issue sorely needs proper attention.
This then, is the third edition of the UN global ministerial conference on road safety, as indicted by its name. The first took place in Moscow in 2009, and managed to bring due attention to the urgency of the issue and succeeded in devising a multi-dimensional action plan. ‘The decade of action for road safety’ was subsequently declared by the UN general assembly.
The second took place in Brasilia in 2015. It could be shown that the predicted rapid rise in fatalities had been partially mitigated, but we were emphatically not on track to contain the issue. At the same time, a huge step was taken when road safety was finally fully incorporated into the framework of the global goals for sustainable development, and a target to halve road fatalities between 2010 and 2020 was adopted by the UN.
This week in Stockholm presents no way to ignore the troubling fact that global road fatalities are still not falling, and that the 2020 target will not be met. So, a more ambitious plan for the next decade is clearly on the table.
This is first and foremost a forum for transport ministers and policy makers. However, leaders from other sectors such as academia and industry are key stakeholders as well.
The aim is to raise the priority of road safety and to outline an action plan for the next decade, and set a new global goal for 2030. As a result, I expect tough new action plans to soon trickle-down into national policy and investments in both infrastructure and vehicle technology.
I believe this is a very important forum since this is about defining a path forward for addressing the global road safety problem. The issue is at its core a multi-sectoral problem, with no clear ownership, so all stakeholders should understand its role and contribute to the global agenda.
Volvo Group is actively involved in the conference and in the several of the official side-events occurring in Stockholm this week.
Most notably, Volvo Group has received the honor of closing the whole conference proceedings with a speech by our President and CEO Martin Lundstedt, who will focus on the role of the private sector in the next decade.
I will be speaking at a three events on the topic of research partnerships, safe automated driving and private sector engagement, respectively.
But, what I think is really exciting is the fact that we are bringing five young Volvo Group ambassadors to take part in the 2nd World Youth Assembly. The youth assembly will deliver a sharp message to policy makers, I’m sure. I look forward to following Prayas Waghela from India, João Muller and Arthur Larocca from Brazil, as well as Timber Wu and Sammi Li from China and their ideas.
I enter the week in Stockholm with a lot of energy, as this is the culmination of so many discussions and planning sessions over the last few years. It is clear that we facing real challenges, with far reaching implications on mobility, livability, and equality – so our joint response needs to be quick, resolute and widespread.
But, it is with some trepidation I consider what feelings I might have after this conference, at the end of the week. Disappointment? A sense of reinforced urgency? Hope?
One thing is for sure, though. I, and I am sure most others, will leave Stockholm with many new insights and full of emotions. Regardless of whether people leave carrying hope or frustration - that energy can be put to good use to deliver on the needs for the next decade.
Safety Director, Volvo Group
February 14, 2019
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