In 2015, the international community came up with two landmark agreements that have an impact on sustainable urban transport.  These are on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

•           SDG 3: Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-being for All.  One of its targets is to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020. 

•           SDG 11: Make Cities Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable.  A target under this goal is to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport by 2030.

•           COP21.  During this meeting, 195 nations agreed to keep global temperature rise in this century well below 2° Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  While the agreement did not explicitly mention transport targets, more than 61% of countries’ submitted national climate plans proposed transport sector specific mitigation measures. 

To respond to these challenges effectively, countries in Asia and the Pacific region have to evolve a holistic and integrative approach to urban transport planning and management. Looking at the interaction of people, vehicles, infrastructure, and environment as they influence urban transport planning will be one of today’s important sector imperatives.  Conflicts between these elements will have to be recognized more as a reality that requires innovative planning and robust health and safety risk reduction facilities. 

ADB has supported a number of initiatives that have contributed to urban transport development that is inclusive and sustainable.  The bus rapid transit (BRT) and road safety are just a few examples.  Seen from the perspective of the latest international agreements, these projects offer new lessons on how best to deal with emerging challenges in the complex ecology of urban transport.