Appointed by UN secretary general Mr Ban Ki Moon in 2014, the group’s report places poverty eradication at its core, and aims to promote economic growth and bolster the fight against climate change. It addresses global trends, including urbanisation, demographic shifts and globalisation, as well as technological progress in digital connectivity and propulsion solutions.

The report found that global, national and local transport systems are held back by inefficiencies and a lack of sustainable investment. It says that investment in sustainable transport could lead to fuel savings and lower operational costs, decreased congestion, reduced air pollution and savings of up to $US 70 trillion by 2050.

Annual investments of around $US 2 trillion, similar to current “business as usual” spending of $US 1.4-2.1 trillion, are recommended to deliver transformational changes towards sustainable transport. The report concludes that greater investment in greener, more sustainable transport solutions is essential for propelling the economic and social development that is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 10 recommendations are:

1. Make transport planning, policy and investment decisions based on the three sustainable development dimensions - social development, environmental (including climate) impacts and economic growth - and a full life cycle analysis.
2. Integrate all sustainable transport planning efforts with an appropriately-balanced development of transport modes: integration vertically among levels of government and horizontally across modes, territories and sectors.
3. Create supportive institutional, legal and regulatory government frameworks to promote effective sustainable transport.
4. Build technical capacity of transport planners and implementers, especially in developing countries, through partnerships with international organisations, multilateral development banks, and governments at all levels, to ensure equitable access to markets, jobs, education and other necessities.
5. Reinforce efforts toward preventing road traffic deaths and injuries.
6. Foster an informed, engaged public as a crucial partner in advancing sustainable transport solutions.
7. Establish monitoring and evaluation frameworks for sustainable transport, and build capacity for gathering and analysing sound and reliable data and statistics.
8. Promote diversified funding sources and coherent fiscal frameworks to advance sustainable transport systems, initiatives and projects.
9. Increase international development funding and climate funding for sustainable transport.
10. Promote sustainable transport technologies through outcome-oriented government investment and policies that encourage private sector investment and action through various incentive structures.

The report says it is promoting a paradigm shift in transport policy away from access to transport, synonymous with building new roads and other infrastructure that benefits the use of private cars. Instead it focuses on people and quality of life by providing access through transport, as well as increased attention to safety and social equity in transport.

Rail is represented in the group by Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, director general of the International Union of Railways (UIC), Mr Alain Flausch, secretary general of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), both of whom welcomed the report, and former managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Mr Elattuvalapil Sreedharan.

“The United Nations now has a committed, international and multi-disciplinary team that is aware that infrastructure and the complementarity between the different modes of transport - each bringing maximum added value and based on intelligent interfacing - are the key to sustainable mobility, in order to address the challenges of the 21st century, and encourage more harmonised socio-economic development through trade in cities, countries and regions,” Loubinoux says.

“Transport can build prosperity in the broadest sense, enhancing the quality of life for all while protecting the environment and fighting climate change,” says Mr Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo and co-chair of the High-Level Group. “We need bold innovation and a true partnership among governments, civil society and the private sector.”