UNECE, WHO Highlight Benefits of Green, Healthy Transport

who unece14 April 2014: Investing in green and healthy transport is economically profitable and results in positive environmental and health effects, according to ‘Unlocking new opportunities: jobs in green and health transport,' a publication by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.

If major European cities adopted the cycling model of Copenhagen, Denmark, where 26% of all city trips are taken by bicycle, 10,000 lives would be saved and more than 76,000 people would be employed in green and healthy transport annually. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, highlighted the payoffs from investing in efficient, green transport systems, including “new jobs and healthier people from more physical activity, fewer road traffic injuries, less noise and better air quality.” Conversely, the environmental and health impacts of transport can be as high as 4% of a country's gross domestic product (GDP).

UNECE and WHO released the publication at the Fourth High-level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment, which they also organized. The meeting, which takes place from 14-16 April 2014, in Paris, France, is an opportunity for European ministries of transport, health and the environment to discuss how innovative transport policies can create employment opportunities and contribute to healthier, greener societies.

The meeting is expected to result in a Paris Declaration, which will create a vision of green, healthy mobility and transport for sustainable livelihoods for all, link health and sustainability to socioeconomic justice and integrate transport, health and environment objectives into urban and spatial planning. The Paris Declaration will build on four priority goals from the 2009 Amsterdam Declaration, inter alia: contributing to sustainable economic development and stimulating job creation through investing in environment and health-friendly transport; promoting a more efficient, sustainable transport system; reducing transport-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollutants and noise; and promoting policies and actions on healthy, safe transport.

UNECE and WHO also released ‘From Amsterdam to Paris and beyond: Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP) 2009-2020,' a publication that showcases success stories from European countries participating in the Programme. For example, Austria reduced 570,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually from 2007 to 2012 through climate-friendly mobility projects. [UNECE Press Release] [Publication: Unlocking New Opportunities: Jobs in Green and Health Transport] [Publication: From Amsterdam to Paris and Beyond: THE PEP 2009-2020] [WHO Website on Meeting]