December 05, 2008

4th Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum of the Asian EST Initiative

PRESS RELEASE

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of the Government of Korea, the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), and the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan will be jointly organizing the Fourth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum from 24 to 26 February 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in Seoul, Korea.

Under the Asian EST Initiative, which is a joint initiative of UNCRD and the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan, the Regional EST Forum provides a strategic and knowledge platform for sharing experiences and disseminating among Asian countries best practices, policy instruments, tools, and technologies in relation to various aspects of EST. The Regional EST Forum comprises: (1) high-level government representatives (from the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Health); and (2) a subsidiary group of experts in various thematic areas related to EST. Participating countries include members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Asian countries, Mongolia, People’s Republic of China, Korea, and Japan, altogether twenty-two Asian countries.

The past three Regional EST Forums successively organized in Japan (2005), Indonesia (2006), and Singapore (2008) attempted to establish a common understanding across Asia on key elements of EST underlined in the Aichi Statement adopted at the First Forum, and also on the need for integrated strategies at the local and national levels to pursue a complementary package of public transport, quality footpaths and cycle ways, vehicle restriction measures, roadmap for emission standards and cleaner fuel, road safety, and gender considerations. Subsequently, twenty-two Asian mayors and city representatives have lent their support to the very objectives of the Asian EST Initiative vis-à-vis the Aichi Statement by signing the Kyoto Declaration (2007) for the promotion of EST in cities and by dedicating themselves to specifically addressing priorities that are often under-emphasized, but are nevertheless vital and central to EST, such as the provision of exclusive pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and ensuring safe and comfortable movement of women, children, the elderly, and the physically impaired.

The Fourth Regional EST Forum in Korea will be an important meeting for further demonstrating the leadership of Asian countries in addressing EST measures. Mr. Kazunobu Onogawa, Director of UNCRD, has stated, “While the developing nations in Asia are fast moving towards catching up with the motorization level of developed countries, only a small number of countries and cities have practically demonstrated innovative ways or introduced effective policies in addressing sustainability issues in the transport sector, which is recognized as the fastest-growing source of greenhouse emissions; however, the leaders of developing countries in Asia now have the great opportunity in their hands to leap-frog from a ‘business-as-usual transport’ to an ‘environmentally and people friendly transport’ without going through the traditional path of – grow now, clean up later – previously followed by many of the industrialized nations.”

The Fourth Forum will also address how Asian countries can take a more active part in climate change mitigation by adopting a co-benefit approach which integrates urban air quality management, energy efficiency measures, and climate change mitigation through EST measures. Efforts to promote environmentally sustainable transport will result not only in the improvement of human health through the reduction of urban air pollution but will also have important complementary benefits, including the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the reduction of deaths and injuries from road accidents, the reduction of harmful noise levels, and the reduction of traffic congestion levels (Aichi Statement, 2005).

Mr. Jong Hwan Chung, Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of Korea, elaborates further saying, “The Fourth Regional Forum in Seoul will help all participants share various transport-related problems and challenges to achieve environmentally sustainable development in the Asian region. In addition, the Seoul Statement that will be adopted by the members of the Fourth Regional EST Forum will make it possible for decision-makers in Asian countries to jointly deal with the challenges related to transport in an economically efficient, socially equitable, environmentally sound, and physically healthy way”.

Contact Person:

UNCRD, Nagoya:
C.R.C. Mohanty
environment@uncrd.or.jp

Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM),
Republic of Korea:
Sang-joo Lee
jayuh@mltm.go.kr

Ministry of the Environment, Japan:
Kensaku Ishibashi
KENSAKU_ISHIBASHI@env.go.jp

UNCRD was established in 1971 as a United Nations organization promoting regional development in developing and transitional economies in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Centre targets its programmes towards socially and environmentally sustainable development, focusing on the three key components of Human Security, Environment, and Disaster Management. The Centre, in close cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), (i) provides advisory services, (ii) facilitates the exchange of information, experience, and teaching, and (iii) fosters collaboration and cooperation among national and international organizations through its training, research, and project activities (for more information see www.uncrd.or.jp/).

Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM), Republic of Korea, restructured in 2008, has taken charge of national, regional, and urban planning, transportation, housing, and infrastructure. The Ministry handles matters closely related to people’s lives, and deals with land, transport, and logistics simultaneously in order to establish a more efficient system of linkages between the investment and operation of infrastructures. It also enables the Korean Government to deal more efficiently with the growing transportation and logistics problems, resulting from urban development and changing spatial structure in the global era, through the systematic construction and operation of transport-related infrastructures. Korea is now aiming to enhance its living standard and competitiveness by making the country more comfortable and efficient (for more information see https://english.mltm.go.kr).

Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan, restructured in 2001, has been responsible for the national environmental policy since its establishment in 1971. The mission of the Ministry ranges widely from planning and formulation of an Integrated Environmental Policy to Promote Global Environmental Conservation, to promoting Environmental Management, Waste and Recycle Management, and Nature Conservation and Environmental Health (for more information see www.env.go.jp/en ).

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