Transport is a crucial driver of economic and social development, bringing opportunities for the poor and enabling economies to be more competitive. Transport infrastructure connects people to jobs, education, and health services; it enables the supply of goods and services around the world; and allows people to interact and generate the knowledge and solutions that foster long-term growth. Rural roads, for example, can help prevent maternal deaths through timely access to childbirth-related care, boost girls’ enrolment in school, and increase and diversify farmers’ income by connecting them to markets.
The sector is crucial to reducing poverty, boosting prosperity, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as transport is at the heart of critical development challenges:
- Climate change: Transport accounts for about 64% of global oil consumption, 27% of all energy use, and 23% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions. With motorization rates on the rise, the environmental impact of the sector is expected to grow dramatically.
- Rapid urbanization and motorization: Cities will be home to some 5.4 billion residents by 2050, equivalent to 2/3 of the projected global population. The number of vehicles on the road will double to reach 2 billion by 2050.
- Accessibility and affordability: An estimated one billion people in low-income countries still lack access to an all-weather road. In many cities, time lost to congestion erodes prosperity. High mobility costs cut the disposable income of the poor who often lack reliable and affordable public transportation.
- Road safety: More than 1.25 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured on the world’s roads every year. Low and middle-income countries account for 90% of the deaths although they own just half the world’s motor vehicles.
- Air pollution: pollution from motorized road transport has been associated with a wide range of health conditions, including cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Each year, almost 185,000 deaths can be directly attributed to pollution from vehicles.
As the developing world rapidly urbanizes, there is an opportunity to build safer, cleaner, more efficient and accessible transport systems that reduce congestion and pollution, facilitate access to jobs, and lower transport energy consumption. In emerging mid-size cities, where most of the new urban dwellers will live, city planners have an opportunity to design sustainable and inclusive transport systems from the start, leapfrogging more polluting and costly modes. In older or larger cities, technology and big data are helping better map travel patterns and needs, engaging citizens, and improving the quality and efficiency of transport solutions.
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017