Four things to be thankful for about sustainable urban mobility
A young boy on a bus in India. Photo by Rob de Wit/Flickr.

A young boy on a bus in India. Today is Thanksgiving – an American holiday of giving thanks – and there’s a lot of good news in the transport sector to be thankful for across the globe. Photo by Rob de Wit/Flickr.

Happy Thanksgiving, TheCityFix readers! Even if you’re not celebrating today’s American holiday of giving thanks and feasting, here are four things we can all be thankful for:

1. Urban mobility is a global priority.

This year’s theme for UN-HABITAT’s annual Global Report on Human Settlements was urban mobility. Because UN-HABITAT is the leading United Nations body working to improve cities, its focus on urban mobility is a game-changer for the global transport community and great news for urban residents everywhere.

Transport Day 2013 at the nineteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also highlighted the important role the transport sector can play in mitigating climate change, and pushed transport to the forefront of the largest and most influential climate change negotiations in the world.

Equitable access to transportation in cities – where over half of the world’s population lives – ensures that citizens are connected to opportunities. As Dr. V. Setty Pendakur reminded us in a recent interview on TheCityFix, safe and sustainable urban transport is one of three essentials for life in developing countries – along with a job and a place to live.

2. Big time national policies are moving human society towards a more sustainable future.

Significant policy shifts at the national level that favor sustainable urban transport and increased involvement by the private sector are key drivers behind a global rise in mass transit. Several national public transportation investment programs have been established in emerging economies like Colombia, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico. This shift is crucial to moving human society towards a more sustainable future, since cities in many developing countries continue to face rapid population growth and increasing private motorization.

In addition to national efforts to promote sustainable development, the capacity building and funding efforts of many international organizations are also helping to catalyze sustainable urban transport projects. This trend is expected to continue, as eight of the largest multilateral development banks have committed to investing US$175 billion in sustainable transport projects throughout the next decade.

3. Innovations in urban design are helping improve the quality of life in our cities.

There are many examples of integrated transport systems worldwide, and urban design is being utilized more than ever to make our cities safe and livable. Indeed, the recent Livable Cities Symposium in Istanbul hosted by EMBARQ Turkey brought together experts and stakeholders in sustainable urban development, citizens, local administrations, and private sector actors to explore the concept of a livable city – what should a livable city look like, and how do we improve quality of life for urban residents? This is an important discourse with the potential for far-reaching impacts in cities across the globe. With the world’s “Most Livable Cities” already being ranked by the media, a bit of healthy competition and sharing ideas may not be a bad thing for urban residents.

4. We’re in the thick of a public transport renaissance – and it’s really fun!

In case you’ve missed TheCityFix’s recent Friday Fun pieces, all sorts of crazy things have been going down on mass transit to spice up the daily grind of commuting. From paying for metro tickets with squats in Moscow to song and dance on public transport, it’s impossible to predict what you might encounter while taking mass transit – which is more than you can say for driving your car, alone… probably stuck in traffic. But hey, the choice is yours.

Many thanks to the EMBARQ Global office team, who helped brainstorm for this post! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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