Transport is at the heart of the World Bank’s mission to fight poverty and boost shared prosperity. With the right policies and resources, transport has the power to propel economies forward, help take on climate change, and connect people to essential services like health care or education.
The COVID-19 crisis has only underscored the importance of transport: over the past year, the sector has been instrumental in taking essential workers to their jobs, keeping the economy afloat, and kickstarting global vaccines distribution. But the current situation has also exposed the vulnerabilities of the transport industry, with operators around the world facing severe disruptions and massive revenue losses.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, rethinking mobility is now a priority to enhance countries’ resilience and create the conditions for a greener, more inclusive recovery.
Reducing the climate impact of transport is among the most urgent priorities. The sector contributes 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions—a figure that could reach over 30% within the next decade under a business-as-usual scenario. Ambitious solutions are needed to lower the carbon footprint of existing and new transport systems. The most significant opportunities to move the sector toward climate sustainability include shifting policies and investments in the design of public transport networks, vehicle efficiency, demand management, regional development, and land use.
Road safety is another critical challenge the transport sector must address. Road crashes claim over 1.35 million lives every year, 93% of them in developing countries. An additional 50 million road users are seriously injured annually. Road fatalities and injuries reduce the GDP of low and middle-income countries by an estimated 1% to 5%. Halving traffic fatalities could add 22% to selected countries’ per capita GDP over two decades.
Sustainable transport also means inclusive transport, and the sector has a long way to go when it comes to promoting equitable access. Around the world, one billion people still live more than 2km away from an all-weather road. One in six women in the world do not look for jobs out of fear of harassment in transit.
Expanding sustainable transport options, especially in low-income or vulnerable communities, will be a powerful way for countries to bolster human development and social inclusion. In rural Morocco, the enrollment of girls in primary school increased from 17% to 54% when their access to roads improved. In Lima, an additional 100,000 jobs will be available to people living in the poorest districts thanks to the introduction of a new metro line.
In addition to human development outcomes, transport investment brings considerable economic returns. A transition to sustainable mobility could deliver savings of US$70 trillion by 2050, when considering full transport costs, including vehicles, fuel, operational expenses, and losses due to congestion. Better access to roads could help Africa become self-sufficient in food and create a regional food market worth $1 trillion by 2030.
Journalists who want to learn more about our work in transport can contact Xavier Muller, External Affairs Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2021