2021 Report on the Status of Transport Related SDG Targets in Asia and the Pacific Region

Table 1: List of SDG Targets, Indicators and the ATO Indicators used to describe the status of Transport related SDGs

Theme 1: Transport and the economy

9. The transport sector is a crucial component of the economy and has a very large impact on employment and economic growth. Nearly every facet of society relies on the transport sector as it provides the physical network and the related services that enable people and freight’ movement. However, besides being a facilitator of other sectors, transport is an essential industry and economic sector in its own right. Transport and economy linkage related SDG targets include:

Transport and Economy Indicators

A. Gross Value Added by Transport, Storage & Communications

Figure 1: Annual growth rate of gross value added by Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TIV-001 (UNstats, 2021)
Figure 2: Employment in Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TRE-002 (ILO, 2020a)
Figure 3: Female employment in Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TRE-014 (ILO, 2021a)
Figure 4: Gross value added (GVA) per employee in Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TIV-002, SEC-TRE-002 (UNstats, 2021a)
Figure 5: Average monthly wages in Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-SEG-001, SEC-TRE-014, SEC-SEG-017 (ILO, 2021a)
Figure 6: Transport Sector PPP Investments, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TIV-014 (World Bank, 2020)
Figure 7: Share of transport sector in total public private partnership (PPP), World Bank (2021)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Transport and the Economy

18. Since the start of the implementation of SDG’s, many economies in Asia have tried to improve the linkage of the transport sector with economic growth. For example, Brunei Darussalam has set a target for 2025 to increase transport sector employment (14,600 jobs in transport and infocommunications sector) (MTIC, 2020), while India (NITI, 2020) has proposed to increase jobs in the logistics sector (22 million to 40 million by 2022–23) and Malaysia (MITI, 2020) has set a target of 323,000 jobs in the automotive sector by 2030). The Philippines, in its latest National Transport Policy (NEDA, 2020) has proposed to enhance private sector participation (PSP) in transport investments to harness private sector comparative advantage, gain technology transfers and operational efficiencies, and assign the respective roles and responsibilities to the party best able to control, positively influence, manage, or mitigate risk occurrences and consequences.

Theme 2: Transport Infrastructure and Activity

19. Infrastructure is a crucial enabler of economic and social development. This is reflected in a dedicated SDG for infrastructure in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. In the case of the transport sector, this includes infrastructure for the movement of people and goods. In addition, digital infrastructure is becoming more critical as it can, in part, replace physical travel. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) considers efficient and affordable ICT infrastructure and services essential for countries to participate in the digital economy and increase overall economic well-being and competitiveness (ITU, 2021a).

Transport Infrastructure Indicators

A. Inland Transport Infrastructure

Figure 8: Growth of transport infrastructure (road and heavy railways) (the green bar shows the increase whereas red bar shows downward trend), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-TTI-005, INF-TTI-016 (UIC, 2020)
Figure 9: Growth of transport infrastructure (high-speed rail), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-TTI-019 (UIC, 2020)
Figure 10: Growth of transport activity in passenger kilometer travelled (PKT) and ton kilometer travelled (TKT), ITF Transport Outlook (ITF, 2021)
Figure 11: Rural population with no access, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ACC-RAC-001 (TRL, 2019)
Figure 12: Population covered by a mobile network by technology (2G, 3G, 4G), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-ICT-010 (UNstats, 2021a)
Figure 13: Share of Population using Internet, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-ICT-006 (ITU, 2021b)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Infrastructure and Transport Activity

28. Asian countries have taken a large amount of policy actions to improve the transport infrastructure. Kyrgyzstan has set a 2022 target of “5,000 km comission of new roads and 100% coverage of all settlements with high-speed Internet access and digital broadcasting” ( Kyrgyz Republlic, 2018). Papua New Guinea in its Medium Term Development Plan III (2018–2022) included targets as “25,000km of national roads (triple current value) by 2030; 80% of Population with access to internet; 100% of national roads in good condition by 2030” (CCDA, 2018). Afganistan in its Railway Development Plan listed a target of 4791 km cumulative track length by 2030 (ARA, 2019). Viet Nam has announced a 2030 target of 1600 km high speed rail” (MONRE, 2018). Islamic Republic of Iran has set 2024 transport activity targets for 2024 of “34.2 bn pkm per year passenger rail systems capacity expansion by 2024 (from 17.4 bn pkm per year in 2017); 75.8 ton-kilometer per year freight rail capacity extension by 2024 (from 21.7 ton-kilometer per year in 2017)” (Government of Iran, 2017). Bangladesh intends to increase the proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road to increase from 83% in 2016 to 90% in 2025 (Government of Bangladesh, 2020).

Theme 3: Urban Transport

29. The share of the global population residing in cities continues to grow; this is also the case in Asia. Concerns on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the world’s cities have resulted in a dedicated urban SDG. Cities are instruments for sustainable development. Transport is acknowledged to be an essential component of urban development. Urban dwellers and the business sector depend on the availability of transport infrastructure and services to make cities function and prosper. With efficient and accessible urban transport, cities can become more productive encouraging innovation, and creating economic growth. Related SDG target:

Urban Transport Indicators

A. Share of population with convenient access to public transport

Figure 14: Share of urban population with convenient access to public transport (stations/stops), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ACC-UDB-001 (SDG, 2020)
Figure 15: Annual growth rate of rapid transit (Bus rapid transit (BRT), Metro, light rail transit (LRT)), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-UTI-001 to 003 (ITDP, 2021)
Figure 16: Urban Transport Mode Share (IPT = intermediate public transport), ITF transport Outlook 2021 (ITF, 2021)
Urban Transport Mode Share by region (OECD = organization of economic cooperation and development; EEA = European economic area), ITF transport Outlook 2021 (ITF, 2021)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Urban Transport

34. Asian countries have issued various policies to improve urban transport. The expansion of public transport infrastructure and infrastructure for walking and cycling is mostly done on the basis of urban transport policies and projects. The Russian Federation, however has issued a national target for urban road networks and it aims to increase the share of urban road networks from 42% (2017) to 85% by 2024.” (Government of Russia, 2020). National level policies have a focus on improving access standards. Nepal in its 15th Plan has set a 2023/24 target of “Number of households with access to transport within a distance of 30 minutes = 95% (from 82% in base year)” (NPC, 2019). Singapore in its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (2015) calls for “’20-Minute Towns’ and a ‘45-Minute City’. Walk-Cycle-Ride modes are the preferred way to travel, making up 9 in 10 of peak-period journeys by 2030” (MSE, 2015). Vanuatu in its National Sustainable Development Plan 2016–2030 Monitoring and Evaluation Framework introduced a 2030 target : “100% share of population with access to transport by road” (Government of Vanuatu, 2016). Lastly, Hong Kong,China in its Railway Development Strategy (2014) stated as a 2031 target a 45–50% rail modal share in public transport“ (THB, 2014).

Theme 4: Transport and Energy

35. Access to energy, like infrastructure, is considered a fundamental prerequisite for development, and as such, there is a dedicated SDG for energy. The transport sector is not able to function without energy. Transport relevant components of the energy SDG focus on the source of energy and the amount of renewables in the energy mix used in the sector as well on the efficiency with which energy is used. The SDGs consider implementing energy efficiency measures across sectors as a priority for all countries. The SDGs also propose the use of energy intensity, i.e., the ratio between the gross consumption of energy and GDP as a proxy for energy efficiency. Transport and energy related SDG targets include:

Transport and Energy-related Indicators

A. Transport Energy Consumption

Figure 18: Transport energy consumption share by source, UNstats (2021b)
Figure 19: Transport final energy consumption by mode in terajoule (TJ), UNstats (2020b)
Figure 20: Transport Energy Intensity (USD = united states dollar), (IEA, 2020)
Figure 21: LDV Fuel Economy (WLTP = world harmonised Light vehicle test procedure; LDV = light duty vehicle; FE = fuel economy)
Figure 22: Fossil fuel subsidy for transport sector (USD = united states dollar), IEA Fossil Fuel Subsidies (IEA, 2021b)
Figure 23: Share of countries with light duty vehicle (LDV) fuel economy policy, UNEP (2021a)
Figure 24: Share of countries with fully liberalised gasoline pump prices, IEA Gasoline Prices (IEA, 2021c)
Figure 25: Share of countries with targets on renewable energy share in transport and EV/phase out, (GFEI, 2021; REN, 2021)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Transport and Energy

45. In addition to the policies on fuel economy, electrification and the liberalization of the market for transport fuels, countries in Asia have also taken policy action in different fields Indonesia has set a 2025 target of “14% biofuel share in transport energy demand” (Indonesia, 2019). Georgia through increasing the share of electric passenger cars from 0.2 per cent in 2018 to 50 per cent by 2030 expects to a 25.6% and 9.4% reduction in the share of petroleum-fuelled and diesel-fueled passenger cars, respectively” (Government of Georgia, 2020). PRC has set a target of an approximately 20% share for new energy vehicles (NEVs) in new vehicle sales by 2025 and account for 70% of PRC’s new car sales by 2030. Fiji intends to reduce domestic maritime shipping emissions by 40% as a contribution to reduce 30% of business-as-usual emissions from the energy sector by 2030 (Government of Fiji, 2020). India has set a target for 2023–2024 for “100% electrification of broad-gauge track (from the 40 per cent level in 2016–17)” (NITI, 2021). Kiribati in its Integrated Energy Roadmap (2017–2025) states targets as “The goal for Kiritimati is a 60% reduction in fossil fuels by 2025. 40% is to be achieved through deployment of renewable energy and 20% through improvements in energy efficiency. The goal for the Outer Islands is a 60% reduction in fossil fuel use in all rural public infrastructure” (Government of Kiribati, 2017). Lao PDR has called for “10% biodiesel blend” by 2030 (Government of Lao PDR, 2021).

Theme 5: Transport and Climate Change

46. It is hard to overemphasise the importance of the risk that climate change forms for global development. This is acknowledged by having a dedicated SDG for climate change. This SDG focuses both on the adaptation to climate change and the mitigation of climate change. There is a direct link between the clinate SDG and the Paris Agreement on Climnate Change, which calls on countries to radically reduce emissions to limit temperature increases to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. Emissions from the transport sector are an important contributor to climate change and emissions from the transport sector continue to grow and in the case of Asia the transport sector is still the fastest growing sector in terms of emissions. Transport and climate change SDG related targets include:

Transport and Climate Change Indicators

A. Transport CO2 Emissions

Figure 26: Transport CO2 Emissions Annual Growth, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: CLC-VRE-048 (EDGAR, 2021)
Figure 27: Annual improvement of transport CO2 Intensity (with gross domestic product (GDP)), EDGAR (2021)
Figure 28: ND Gain Index for Infrastructure Vulnerability, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: CLC-CVT-001 (ND-GAIN, 2021)
Figure 29: Expected annual damage (EAD) to Transport surface infrastructure, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: CLC-CVT-002
Figure 30: Share of countries with Transport green house gas (GHG) targets in nationally determined contributions (NDC) or long-term strategy (LTS), CHANGING TRANSPORT (2021)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Transport and Climate Change

56. In its updated NDC, Maldives, will establish a National Planning Act and Physical Planning Act. This will facilitate the integration of climate change into development planning (Maldives, 2020). The government of Bhutan aims to transform Thimphu into the first electric city in the world, and to reduce fuel imports by 70% by 2020 (Government of Bhutan, 2013). Cambodia has communicated a 2030 target calling for “390 Gg of CO2eq reduction in transport sector” (Government of Cambodia, 2015). Japan to achieve a reduction of 163 Mln. tonne CO2e emissions in the transport sector compared to 225 Mln. tonne CO2e in 2013 (Government of Japan, 2015). Mongolia aims for a 22.7% reduction in total national GHG emissions. In the transportation sector it will switch the coal export transportation to rail transport from auto transportation; and it will switch the heating of passenger train to electric heating (Government of Mongolia, 2020). The Republic of Korea has set a target of deploying 3 million units of electric vehicles and 850,000 hydrogen vehicles by 2030 (Republic of Korea, 2020). Singapore intends to phase out ICE vehicles by 2040, and to provide rebates to encourage takeup of cleaner vehicles on new electric vehicle (EV) purchases (Government of Singapore, 2020). Azerbaijan in its NDC announced the use of environmentally friendly forms of transport, enhancement of the use of electric vehicles at public transportation, and electrification of railway lines (Government of Azerbaijan, 2015).

Theme 6: Air pollution

57. The SDGs consider pollution of the air, water, and soil an essential threat to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. The transport sector is a significant contributor to outdoor air pollution and associated health impacts. Transport operations emit a complex mixture of air pollutants, many of which are harmful to health. Evidence from several epidemiological studies has demonstrated that exposure to mobile air pollution is linked to acute respiratory infections, cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), ischaemic heart diseases (IHD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Air pollution related SDG related targets include:

Air Pollution and Transport Indicators

A. Transport PM 10, NOx, Sox, and BC emissions

Figure 31: Air pollution (particulate matter (PM) 10, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), black carbon (BC) emissions), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: APH-VAP-021, APH-VAP-022, APH-VAP-023, APH-VAP-024, APH-VAP-025, APH-VAP-005, APH-VAP-010, APH-VAP-015, APH-VAP-020 (EDGAR, 2018)
Figure 32: Mortality Rate Attributed to Transport Air Pollution, (McDuffie et al., 2021)
Figure 33: Deaths due to Occupational exposure to diesel engine exhaust, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: APH-HAT-001 (LANCET, 2019)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Transport and Air Pollution

62. By adopting Euro 6/VI vehicle emission standards, countries can achieve singificant reductions in the emission of pollutants like fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and subequently reducing the reated health impact i.e. ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and asthma. Light-duty vehicles (3.5 tons or below) in PRC are since January 2021 required to meet PRC 6a standards effective January 1, 2021. Effective July 1, 2021, heavy-duty vehicles also are also subject to PRC 6a standards. PRC 6b emission standards, scheduled for introduction in 2023, targets reductions of 50% for hydrocarbons, 40% for NOx and 33% for PM over Euro 6 levels (MEE, 2017). Cambodia targets “10 ppm sulphur levels in fuel by 2024, Euro 4 in 2022, and Euro 5 in 2025” according to the UNEP PCFV database (UNEP, 2021b). The Malaysian Government introduced the Euro-5 standards as the Malaysia Petrol Standards and Diesel Standards in April 2021. (MSJCE, 2018). In Viet Nam, new assembled or imported cars need to comply with Euro 5 standards from January 1, 2022. The Ministry of Transport is requested to urgently develop a national programme to develop means of environmentally-friendly transport and public transport (Government of Viet Nam, 2015). India in its National Clean Air Programme states as target for 2024 “20–30% reduction in particulate matter concentrations from 2017 baseline” (MOEF, 2019). Thailand in its Country Report for the 11th Regional EST Forum states target for 2026 as “Euro 5 emissions standards for passenger cars by 2023 and buses and trucks” (Government of Thailand, 2018)

Theme 7: Road Safety

63. The SDGs consider road safety a prerequisite to ensure healthy lives, promote well-being, and make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The road safety landscape varies significantly among countries and regions. However, overall, the emerging pattern reveals — growing traffic crash fatalities in developing countries while reducing in upper-middle and high-income economies. Globally, road traffic crashes kill more than 1.35 million people every year, with over 90% of these fatalities occurring in low- and middle-income countries. The road safety related SDG related target is:

Road safety Indicators

A. Road Crash Fatalities

Figure 34: Annual growth rate of road crash fatalities, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: RSA-RSI-003 (WHO, 2021a)
Figure 35: Average cost of fatalities and serious injuries as share of GDP, 2016, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: RSA-RSI-012 (World Bank, 2019)
Figure 36: Share of road traffic deaths by road user, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: RSA-RSI-004 to 008 (WHO, 2021c)
Figure 37: Share of national infrastructure with 3 stars or higher for each user, IRAP (2020)

Illustrative Policy Initiatives on Road Safety

69. Australia in its Draft National Road Safety Strategy (2021–2030) targets for 2030 that “Fatalities per capita reduced by 50%; serious injury per capita reduced by 30%” (ORS, 2021). Bangladesh in its 8th FYP (2020–2025) aims to reduce by 2025 the number of fatalities due to road traffic accidents on national highways by 25% (Bangladesh, 2020). Brunei Darussalam in its Road Safety Strategic Plan 2025 states the 2025 vision “Zero road accident fatalities” (NRSC, 2020). Russian Federation has a 2030 “Zero road traffic fatalities” target (Stroyinf, 2018). New Zealand plans that the implementation of its Road Safety Strategy (2020–2030) will result in 750 fewer people would be killed and 5,600 fewer would be seriously injured over the next ten years” (MoT, 2019). Tonga in its Strategic Development Framework (2025) plans to equip 89% of highway, trunk and feeder roads with safety signs (Government of Tonga, 2020).


70. Overall It is difficult to accurately assess progress on the majority of the transport related SDG goals as they are vague and lack quantificated targets. The use of phrases like “increase substantially”, or “double the share” is not helpful in this regard. Also, most of the indicators indicate what needs to be measured but do not provide a desired performance level.

Table 2: Regional summary stating progress in terms of achieving SDGs


Asian Development Bank (ADB). 2021a. Asian Transport Outlook Data to Support Larger and More Sustainable Transport Sector in Asia. https://www.adb.org/news/asian-transport-outlook-data-support-larger-and-more-sustainable-transport-sector-asia



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Asian Development Bank - Transport

Asian Development Bank - Transport

Supporting the development of low-carbon, safe, accessible and affordable transport systems for Asia and the Pacific. Follow for #sustainabletransport insights