PEP talk

April 28, 2014

REC delivers statement at UNECE conference on transport, health and environment

REC Director for International Relations and Strategic Development Kenty Richardson delivered the following floor statement in Paris on April 15, 2014 at the UNECE's Fourth High-Level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment.

Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would first like to thank UNECE for giving us the opportunity to attend the Fourth High-Level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment.

PEPThe REC, an international organisation with more than 20 years of experience in addressing environmental issues in Central and Eastern Europe, and beyond, builds capacities for sustainable development, promotes dialogue and cooperation between different stakeholders and thereby contributes to the improvement of environment, social cohesion, stability and well-being. Operations of the REC focus on the EU-28 countries, EU enlargement countries, and ENP countries.

As I have little time to stress how important transport is for people, goods and the economy, and how much impact it has on environment and health, I would like to focus on three main achievements and express three final thoughts.

The first achievement: We acknowledge and thank the EC for its efforts in the field to date in offering a framework for EU member and non-EU member state cities through, for instance, the 2007 Green Paper and 2009 Action Plan on Urban Mobility, the 2011 White Paper on Urban Transport, and the recently adopted 2013 urban mobility package whose priorities we support.

KentyPepSecond: I should mention the CIVITAS programme, a flagship initiative from the EC that supports cities in networking, experience exchange, meeting sustainability targets and elaborating sustainable urban mobility plans. We welcome the fact that CIVITAS 2020 has been included within Horizon 2020; and REC, who hosted the CIVITAS secretariat between 2009 and 2013, looks forward to continuing to assist cities' involvement from our region. We also stand ready to replicate similar programmes outside of the EU and within the UNECE region integrating the health dimension.

Third: Coming now to health and environment, let me mention the SINPHONIE project initiated and funded by the European Parliament under a contract with DG SANCO and including 38 environment and health institutions from 25 countries. SINPHONIE was conceived as a challenging pilot research project in the fields of health and environment, which targets mainly indoor air in schools but also outdoor air in the school vicinity, including consideration of the impacts of traffic and climate change.

But much more needs to be done to integrate transport, health and environment, and this is why the PEP is critical for the UNECE region.

Allow me then to come to three final thoughts:

One: REC supports priority goals 1 through 4 of the Draft Paris Declaration: City in Motion - People First!

Two: We underscore the relevance of the newly proposed Priority Goal 5-namely, to integrate transport, health and environmental objectives into urban and spatial planning policies. This is still very much missing and needed.

Three: REC firmly encourages cities and countries not to overlook the importance of 'soft measures' such as awareness-raising campaigns. REC, with its experience in capacity building and with its Sustainable Development Academy, is looking forward to cooperating closely with PEP, and especially with the launch of the PEP Academy.

Let me conclude by saying that the REC will continue to promote the health and environmental components of sustainable urban mobility planning in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. Through our projects and partnerships, we will work to reduce human impact on natural resources and ecosystems, and to ensure that we develop in a way that benefits us all, both today and in the future.