The UK government has assumed the presidency of the International Transport Forum (ITF), leading its work to improve people’s lives across the world through cleaner, safer and more innovative solutions.
In a ceremony held in Leipzig, Germany, the largest gathering of transport ministers in the world saw current president, Morocco, hand over the reins to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The ITF is a world-leading intergovernmental organisation for transport policy bringing together 63 countries from around the world, hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In a keynote speech, Mr Shapps laid out 5 priorities for the UK’s tenure: leading global transport transformation by making transport more connected, greener, inclusive, safe and resilient, and innovative.
He also used the forum to bring nations together in solidarity against the invasion of Ukraine, uniting his counterparts in condemning Russia’s heinous acts and atrocities committed against Ukraine’s civilian population.
Transport ministers from around the world will back a call to action committing to ending all ITF cooperation with Russia and Belarus.
In a speech at the summit, the Transport Secretary said: “Transport binds nations together for the common good. But access to the international transport network is a privilege. It requires countries to act in a responsible and respectful way to each other.
“So we cannot stand back when one state, entirely unprovoked, attacks another, killing thousands of innocent people, violating international law and breaching the UN Charter.
“The targeted destruction of one nation’s infrastructure, in particular its transport system, clearly contravenes the very foundations on which the ITF is built. The United Kingdom stands with our partners in condemning the outrageous actions of Vladimir Putin and the Russian military in Ukraine.”
The summit was also a chance to demonstrate how innovations in crash avoidance technology can save lives and meet the United Nations’ goal to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030, which ties in with the UK’s own objectives on road safety.
At the summit, Mr Shapps took part in a demonstration of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – new technology that monitors the road ahead and automatically brakes the car if the driver fails to respond to a collision threat – as well as anti-lock braking system (ABS) for motorcycles.
Such technologies are not only being considered for UK vehicles, but it is hoped these will be rolled out worldwide through initiatives like the #STOPTHECRASH partnership.
This will be followed by another example of international unity: the announcement of a new air services agreement between Canada and the UK. It means that crucial transatlantic routes can continue and planes flying from the UK will continue to enjoy the same access they currently have with Canada, helping the UK maintain its place as Europe’s most important aviation hub.
The Transport Secretary will sign the bilateral agreement at the event with Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
The UK’s leadership in decarbonising transport was also on show, coming hot off the heels of the Transport Secretary’s historic challenge to the aviation industry to deliver the first net zero transatlantic flight by the end of next year, and the launch of its Jet Zero Council, which is focused on delivering zero emissions aviation in a generation.
The Transport Secretary chaired meetings of the intergovernmental Zero Emissions Vehicles Transition Council (ZEVTC), which he used as an opportunity to discuss coordinating industry and government efforts in the transition to zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) – which will be key to decarbonising our roads and meeting global climate targets.