Rethinking Sustainability in Mobility

In this era of sustainable development, discussions on how to integrate sustainability in every area of human endeavour are inevitable. Talking about sustainability heralds the thought of Sustainable Mobility (which can also be called Green Transport or Sustainable Transport).

Transportation dates back to the beginning of human existence with the most environment friendly means of transportation (walking). Through the experience, other modern means of transport have been invented ranging from animals, bicycles, trams, buses, cars etc. Unfortunately, with the advancement in transportation came the endangering of the human environment as these ‘classy’ transport modes have been proven to be major emitters of greenhouse gas (about 23 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emission as at 2014).

The role of transport in sustainable development was first recognized at the 1992 United Nation’s Earth Summit and reinforced in its outcome document – the Agenda 21. According to Richardson (1999), A sustainable transportation system is “one in which fuel consumption, vehicle emissions, safety, congestion, and social and economic access are of such levels that they can be sustained into the indefinite future without causing great or irreparable harm to future generations of people throughout the world.” This definition gives the idea that for every movement to be made, the question of how much damage will be done in the long term must be answered if we intend to work towards sustainability in transportation.

When considering the perceived and actual effects, the scope of damage could range from economic to social, moral to environmental forms. Therefore, for a transport system to be reckoned with as being sustainable, it must be economically, morally, socially and environmentally friendly. Also, the transport system must ensure that vehicles on the road per time are reduced to the barest minimum. Does this sound impossible?

The need for a sustainable transportation system is emphasized from the numerous challenges arising from the present transportation systems operational across the world’s largest (and even smallest) cities. These challenges include the declining petroleum reserve, pollution, congestion and noise, amongst many others. The future effects of these challenges on health, environment and the host economies constitute the major reasons the subject of sustainable transportation has become inevitable.

Sustainable transport is pivotal to the achievement of most, if not all, of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Although sustainable transport is not clearly embedded by a standalone SDG, it is wired across several SDGs, especially those relating to health, infrastructure and food security.

The major questions to be answered are:

Why do we need sustainable transport?

How do we get there?’


…To be continued in the next edition

-Project and Research Unit

                                                                                                                                                ThistlePraxis Consulting

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