Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I congratulate the International Transport Forum for convening this Regional High-level Dialogue and the Government of Mongolia for holding a successful series of transport events this week.
This is indeed a good opportunity to take stock of pressing challenges in connectivity and explore resilient and sustainable solutions for countries in Asia, as the transport sector continues to evolve under increasing climate pressure and other disruptions.
Transport connectivity is positively and closely related to economic growth and development, supply chain efficiency and resilience, as well as increases in the quality of life by providing accessibility to employment and health and education services.
However, the growing demand for transport and mobility, compounded by the emergence and continued development of geographically dispersed supply chains, puts the sector on the brink of exceeding capacity.
Within the transport sector in Asia and the Pacific, freight and logistics account for a significant portion of total energy use, up to 40 per cent in many countries, leading to a substantial share of carbon dioxide emissions.
Rising economic development and population growth will also contribute to significant increases in trade shares and freight volumes, where ton-kilometers from surface freight could increase by more than 200 per cent between 2015 and 2050.
Efficient and resilient transport and logistics networks and mobility for economic growth are, in fact, one of the three overarching objectives of the Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific, along with environmentally sustainable transport systems and services, and safe and inclusive transport.
ESCAP has a long-standing focus on infrastructure and operational transport connectivity along the regional land transport network and selected aspects of rural connectivity.
In 2022, the Committee on Transport endorsed ten guiding principles for sustainable freight transport in Asia and the Pacific as a means of further promoting the sustainability of freight transport in the region.
Building upon the Intergovernmental Agreements on the Asian Highway, Trans-Asian Railway and Dry Ports, as well as relevant regional frameworks on transport facilitation, ESCAP uses regional and multi-stakeholder cooperation and technical assistance to expand and improve regional land transport connectivity and supply chain efficiency. These enhance resilience, sustainability, and improve connectivity to markets for countries in special situations for equitable development.
The key drivers of the shift to sustainable freight transport are technology and innovation, private sector engagement and the enabling role of public policy.
While technology and innovation is important for the future development of the transport sector, transport policymakers and regulators will also need to focus on new security risks and the limitations of the impact of technology on overall sustainability performance.
Policy and regulation also need to keep pace with technological development and incentivize its introduction, adoption and widespread use by the industry.
This is a topic that will be further discussed at the 80th session of the Commission, scheduled to be held in April 2024 in Bangkok, with the theme of “Leveraging digital innovation for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.”
Let me conclude here by wishing you a very successful event and fruitful discussions.
Thank you very much.