The Jakarta Post
Delegates of 140 countries have adopted the Stockholm Declaration as the final outcome document of the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety: Achieving Global Goals 2030, which was held in Stockholm and ended on Thursday.
The declaration aims to strengthen the commitment to achieve global goals by 2030 and emphasize countries’ shared responsibility.
“Reaffirm our commitment to the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda, recognizing the synergies between the SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] policy areas, as well as the need to work in an integrated manner for mutual benefits,” the declaration’s first of 18 point reads.
Swedish Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth said the Stockholm Declaration had forward-looking elements, in that it focused on action and how countries could reach their 2030 targets. The declaration clearly connected road safety to the Agenda 2030, and there was an interdependence between the SDGs and road safety, he went on.
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“Road safety is directly and indirectly connected to several other SDGs and targets, and when we work to ensure road safety, we also contribute to development, equity, gender equality, the fight against climate change as well as creating sustainable cities for all citizens and road users,” Eneroth told journalists on the sidelines of the conference.
The Stockholm Declaration was built on the Moscow Declaration (of 2009) and Brasilia Declaration (of 2015) and prior UN General Assembly and World Health Assembly resolutions, the minister further explained. Some of the declaration’s recommendations were based on input from an independent academic expert group.
“We recognize our shared responsibility and call on member states to contribute to reducing road traffic deaths by at least 50 percent from 2020 to 2030,” the declaration further says.
Last week, the Swiss government decided to expand its ambition during a meeting in Sweden to reduce road traffic deaths by 50 percent to 2030 and, citing this as an example, Eneroth said he hoped other countries would follow suit.
“At least 50 percent [...]. If we are serious about halving the number of deaths on our roads by 2030, we need a holistic perspective and include road safety and a safe system approach as an integral element of land use street design, transportation system planning and governance,” he said.
According to official data, road traffic injuries rank eighth among the leading causes of death globally and are the number-one killer of people aged between 5 and 29 years. More than 1.35 million people die and up to 50 million are severely injured in road accidents every year. According to the World Bank, reducing road traffic deaths and injuries by half could add 7 – 22 percent to per-capita gross domestic product in five selected low- and middle-income countries over the next 24 years.
As a safe system approach, Vision Zero – a multinational road traffic safety project to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries from road traffic – has been implemented in Sweden for 15 years after its first introduction in the 1930s. It had reduced fatalities in the country by 80 percent during, Eneroth said.
Looking at Sweden’s experience in road safety, Eneroth said, human error would always be a factor, but technology could be a determining factor in whether accidents would claim human lives. “We need to encourage and incentivize the development, application and deployment of existing and future technology and other innovations to improve all aspects of road safety from prevention to emergency response and trauma care,” the minister said.
There are some well-known and proven behavioral road safety measures that could save hundreds of thousands of lives annually; unfortunately, many of these measures are still not being implemented in most countries. “We need to focus on speed management, including the strengthening of law enforcement to prevent speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30 kilometers [per hour] in areas where vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and public transportation users -- and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner,” Eneroth asserted.
During the two-day conference, delegates had programs with plenary discussions where they had ministers and senior officials discussing the lessons learned from A Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, which will expire at the end of this year, and setting priorities for the next 10 years. On Wednesday, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a doubling of its support for global road safety, committing another US$240 million from 2020 to 2025 to save 600,000 more lives and prevent 22 million injuries in low- and middle-income countries around the world.
To delegates, Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of the late Nelson Mandela, shared her experience as a global advocate and campaigner on road safety since the start of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in 2011.
The World Health Organization’s director for social determinants of health, Etienne Krug, said there had been progress in the prevention of traffic deaths and injuries in Southeast Asian countries, such as progress on some legislative issues in the Philippines and Cambodia. Taiwan and India also showed some achievements.
“There is progress, but the road is still very long. We need much more enforcement of existing legislation; continue to improve the laws. We also need to make progress on the quality of vehicles,” Krug said.