An historic new framework to catalyse sustainable transport in Africa has been adopted. The Africa Sustainable Transport Forum (ASTF) framework aims to provide benefits for health, environment and sustainable development by making the transport sector more resource efficient, environmentally sound and financially robust. It will do this by providing a pan-African platform for decision makers to share best practices, coordinate sustainable transport efforts and provide focus to development planning.
More than 42 African countries were represented at a meeting to establish the ASTF framework at the first Africa Sustainable Transport Forum hosted by the Government of Kenya in October.
The ASTF meeting is significantly timely given that global air pollution is estimated to kill over 7 million people a year and that the rapidly growing transportation sector is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Africa’s transportation infrastructure is developing fast and together with high rates of urbanization, represents a big opportunity to create a resource efficient development path that is climate resilient and does not lock African countries into fossil fuel based energy transportation.
In Kenya alone, rapid urbanization is projected to double Nairobi’s car fleet in just six years, a situation that could put the health and well-being of thousands of Kenyans at risk. And while per capita CO2 emissions remain low, the rapidly growing consumption of fossil fuels is quickly changing Kenya’s CO2 trajectory as demand for energy and mobility expands. At the same time, studies show that in Nairobi, for example, air pollution levels are at times seven times as high as the maximum WHO guidelines. Pollution in Nairobi doubles near the central business district, reflecting high pollution from vehicle exhausts.
“With spending on transport infrastructure growing at an unprecedented rate across Africa, policymakers have a window of opportunity to mitigate climate change threats and ensure the health and well-being of millions of Africans by introducing clean and efficient transportation” remarked Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
The roadmap adopted by ministers at the Forum seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport in Africa by adopting a comprehensive approach that aims to promote the use of low-emission non-motorized transport, encourage the development of quality public transport and increase investment in clean technologies. The Forum also hosted a ‘Solutions Expo’ to showcase some of the most successful, exciting and innovative sustainable transport solutions within the African continent and beyond.