To mark the 10th anniversary of the International Transport Forum (ITF), this session gathered ITF stakeholders - governments, business and civil society leaders and academia - to discuss the ITF past achievements and the future prospects, in a broader context of the challenges and opportunities for the transport sector
In an introductory dialogue to the session, Jack Short, former ITF Secretary, and incumbent José Viegas looked back at the evolution of the ITF, sketching out the current and future challenges and drivers shaping the transport sector and the organisation’s role in facilitating policy dialogue:
The International Transport Forum has evolved from the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) to an international organisation for global policy dialogue on transport. While the ITF managed to ensure continuity in providing high value to its members, the organisation has been extending its expertise and increasing its capacity to deliver relevant and timely policy analysis by a number of innovations, such as the Corporate Partnership Board (CPB) or the Case Specific Policy Analysis series.
The ITF will need to address a set of new challenges that are lying ahead without losing sight of old ones that still persist. Demographic change, for example, is transforming many issues related to transport and mobility into urban ones. This in turn will require looking for new formats of engaging with municipal and metropolitan authorities and governments to address commonly shared challenges effectively. Big data, as another important example, raises the question of how privately generated data can be made available to the public; how it can be ensured to be rich and good enough, while being affordable. This will push for new regulatory schemes for data collection and generation.
The group discussions that followed expressed a wide range of perspectives regarding the issues and factors driving change in the previous and upcoming decades. Urbanisation, technological innovation, climate change, and the changing role and perception of transport for providing mobility are the connecting themes that mark the shift between past and future challenges.
The last decade was characterised by Transport Ministers taking on responsibilities for urban transport, formerly seen as a local government responsibility, and putting road safety at the forefront of priorities. The urban focus was reflected in a big shift to investing in rail, bus and BRT systems and a new focus on pedestrians. Growing urbanisation drove this agenda and the World Bank was particularly instrumental in raising the profile of road safety.
The next decade will see a further shift in focus to shared mobility and autonomous vehicles and from public to private provision of mobility services. New private operators of shared mobility services will put thousands of vehicles onto the streets and there is a propensity for chaos. At the moment city authorities control all the vehicle fleets involved in public transport; they need to rapidly develop a response to coordinate the new service providers.
Cities are at the limit of the mobility that can be provided as we do so many more trips than earlier generations. To cope there has been a shift from the car to public transport and now a new shift to a combination of mobility as a service, cycling and walking. This is what governments have to create the regulatory, governance and investment space for.
Former Secretary-General, International Transport Forum
Secretary-General, International Transport Forum