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Bold Vision for the Future of Sustainable Transport

This year marks EMBARQ's 10-year anniversary. Photo by Dave K. Cooper.

EMBARQ (the producer of this blog) and its partners are pleased to host the annual Transforming Transportation event on January 26-27 at The World Bank in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference will focus on big ideas to scale up sustainable transport best practices in cities worldwide. To learn more, see the agenda for Day 1 and Day 2. Highlights include a keynote address by Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba, on the “Future of the City: Challenges of Scaling Up Good Practices in Urban Transport,” and a keynote address by Chris West, director of Shell Foundation, on “Innovations in Scaling: What Lessons are Available for the Transport Sector?”

EMBARQ Director Holger Dalkmann introduces a vision for the future of sustainable transport and improving quality of life in cities, as EMBARQ celebrates its 10-year anniversary. The following is a letter from EMBARQ’s 10-year report, “20 Years of EMBARQ: Celebrating the Past 10, Setting a Vision for the Next 10.

We are in the midst of global trends that point to more congestion, air pollution, and traffic injuries and deaths in our cities, not to mention the transport sector’s increasing contribution to climate change. These problems present an opportunity to create a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we scale up sustainable transport solutions worldwide.

Over the past 10 years, EMBARQ, as part of the World Resources Institute, has been instrumental in creating solutions on the ground, thanks to the visionary leadership of our founder, the late Dr. Lee Schipper. It is critical that we continue launching these iconic projects, but there is still more work to be done at the policy and capacity-building level to de-couple economic growth from the negative impacts of transportation.

At the local level, we partner with mayors, city planners and other municipal officials to provide technical assistance and institutional support for transport projects. We also help ensure that financing and laws require safe, efficient, sustainable transport and urban development projects,  like helping local authorities in Indore set up the institutional structure necessary to provide efficient and organized public bus services. We also create enabling environments for sustainable transport projects in other regions, whether organizing cycling workshops in Turkey or creating an association for Latin American transit agencies.

At the national level, we are strengthening our engagement with ministries of finance, environment, infrastructure, health and transportation, plus elected officials and national financing bodies, to fulfill national safety and climate plan requirements and secure funding for new projects. Some of our past successes include influencing India’s first national sustainable transport policy. Similarly, EMBARQ Mexico provided important project evaluation guidelines and assistance for Mexico’s first ever federal fund for public transit projects.

At the international level, we mainstream sustainable transport through international agreements and best practice recommendations. We also facilitate technology transfer and financing by working closely with our partners, including multilateral development banks, bilateral agencies, regional issue-focused associations, and global treaties like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. One of our great achievements this past year was conveying the key message that sustainable transport saves lives in the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

We dedicate our work to bringing a green economy to life, together with the other programs of WRI. Our projects ensure that cities in rapidly developing countries lift millions of people out of poverty and become powerful engines for social and environmental progress. We see a future where cities in developing countries learn from the mistakes of the developed world, and leapfrog past the predominant model of auto-oriented growth.

But we can’t do it alone. To make our vision a reality, our global network of centers builds buyin and ownership at the local level. Of course, our work involves more than just partnering with government institutions. We also build relationships with the private sector to develop new business solutions related to affordable housing and accessible urban transport infrastructure.

We are grateful to our donors for their outstanding contribution to make our vision a reality.

The challenge now is to scale up EMBARQ’s impact in a major and sustainable way, for a world in urgent need of global cooperation on local solutions. We invite you to join us in this movement, so that in 10 years, we can look back and say that our upscaling strategy and paradigm shift worked.

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