One eye-opening workshop I had the opportunity to attend focussed on the topic of “sustainable mobility in cities”. With over 6.5 billion people expected to be living in a city by 2050, it is key to understand how to design and plan cities’ mobile infrastructure to ensure fast, safe and sustainable transport for all.
The Goal: Safe Smooth & Sustainable
As advocated by the WBCSD, the ultimate goal of sustainable mobility is to “accelerate and extend access to safe, reliable and comfortable mobility for all whilst having zero traffic accidents, low environmental impacts, affordability, and reduced demands on energy and time. The movement of people and goods would be facilitated, contributing to a more prosperous and resilient society by creating new values and businesses, and a positive environmental and economic growth cycle” (WBCSD.org, 2017).
Now: Project Isolation
Indeed, cities have invested in the improvement of their mobility systems, such as optimizing bus transport systems, creating a new underground line or providing high speed trains. Traditionally, this has occurred with the public sector employing private businesses on a contractual basis for specific mobility related projects. Although successful, these solutions involve different stakeholders, are financed by different budgets and are driven by different objectives. As a result, new mobility solutions risk to be isolated from the overall transport network, with people adopting the use of some transport means to the expense of others.
Tomorrow: Optimization through Integration
In addition to the individual performance of transport systems, cities therefore need to strive for their effective integration, in order to optimize the overall mobility network and maximise the use of all means of transport. To achieve this, local private and public sectors must re-envision their mutual relationship in the approach to urban mobility planning. Rather than a client – vendor relationship, public and private sectors need to partner at a strategic level to develop integrated solutions for sustainable urban mobility, adopting a holistic approach to improving the future of the cities’ mobility system.
Taster: SMP 2.0
The Sustainable Mobility Project (SMP 2.0) initiated by the WBCSD features 15 mobility-related member companies partnering with 6 cities across the world with the aim of integrating new or existing mobility systems with the cities’ transport infrastructure through a data-driven, collaborative and systematic approach. Following a multi step process guided from the holistic vision of making the cities’ mobility system more sustainable, the pilot cities have benefitted from the cooperation with corporate stakeholders and the support of a set of data-driven indicators, established in collaboration with the private sector and tailored to the cities’ needs.
Being a city born, it’s empowering to see that an increasing amount of influential corporations and councils are embracing the need to optimize their mobility infrastructure. Undoubtedly challenges will characterize the process of engaging multiple private and public stakeholders in one holistic vision, such as vested interests, project investments and coordination as well as potential collaborations with competitors (read more about it here). However, with the aid of technological advancements and city-tailored, data-driven indicators, local public and private sector stakeholders can more effectively align objectives and collaborate to achieve safe, smooth and sustainable mobility.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!
WBCSD. (2017). Sustainable Mobility Project 2.0 – World business council for sustainable development. [online] Available at: http://www.wbcsd.org/Projects/smp2 [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].