UN report says rail freight can boost global GDP

Increased investment in greener transport methods such as rail freight are essential for driving worldwide economic and social development. That is one of the key findings of a far-reaching United Nations transport report, which says sustainable rail solutions could ultimately help deliver enormous global GDP increases. 

Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development makes a series of key recommendations on how governments and businesses can, and should, redirect their transport resources to bring benefits including fuel savings, less congestion and and reduced air pollution.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, President of the International Union of Railways (UIC), was a member of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s expert panel which produced the report. In it he described rail as the ‘backbone of sustainable transport. “The United Nations now has a committed, international and multi-disciplinary team that is aware that infrastructure and the complementarity between the different modes of transport – each bringing maximum added value and based on intelligent interfacing – are the key to sustainable mobility,” said Mr Loubinoux.

Sustainable transport

Ban Ki-moon said sustainable transport was essential to efforts to fight climate change, reduce air pollution and improve road safety: “Sustainable transport supports inclusive growth, job creation, poverty reduction, access to markets, the empowerment of women, and the well-being of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.”

The group was formed in 2014 to provide recommendations on sustainable transport at global, national and local levels. The advisory group worked with governments and rail, marine, aviation and road providers, along with businesses, financial institutions and other stakeholders to promote greener transport solutions.

Silk Road project

A move to more sustainable freight and passenger transport, it says, which includes integrated port terminals, well-planned airports and consistent standards and regulations for efficient border crossings, could produce a global GDP increase of US$2.6 trillion. It also highlights various case studies worldwide, including China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, through which its land-based ‘Silk Road’ project is already providing new trading opportunities via freight between Europe and the Far East.

The report is available to download.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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