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

Asian Development Bank - Transport
42 min readJan 11, 2022

1. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development is an ambitious plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnerships. At the core of the 2020–2030 decade is the need for action to tackle growing poverty, empower women and girls, and address the climate emergency. It integrates three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental, to stimulate action in all countries and across sectors. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda consists of 17 interlinked global goals (Sustainable Development Goals — SDGs) designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The SDGs were adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

2. A review of SDG’s (ESCAP, 2020a) carried out before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic indicates that the rate of global progress is not keeping pace with the ambitions of the SDG’s Agenda, necessitating immediate and accelerated action by countries, sectors, and stakeholders at all levels. It is clear that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to slow down the implementation of the SDGs.

3. The transport sector does not have its own SDG but is considered as an enabler of development and is integrated in various forms across multiple SDGs. Targets 3.6, 9.1 and 11.2 directly addresses the transport sector, the transformation of transport infrastructure and services. However, at least eight of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals include one or more targets that address the transport sector (ITDP, 2015; UNstats, 2019). Collectively, the transport relevant SDGs and targets indicate how access to economic and social opportunities could be enhanced while considering environmental and other transport externality related objectives.

4. The transport sector is often considered a black box in terms of data. Collected data are often not easily accessible or are often incomplete. Over the last few years, limited progress has been made in increasing the availability of good quality comparable data for SDG monitoring in terms of geographic coverage, timeliness and the level of disaggregation required. As a result, almost no country in the developing world has transport data that provides a thorough understanding of the transport sector performance vis-à-vis the transport relevant targets included in the SDGs.

5. Since 2015, the adoption year of the SDGs, little has been published regarding the transport sector relevance of the SDGs and, more specifically, on the progress in implementing transport-related SDG targets. One exception to this is the periodic review by the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLOCAT), of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) submitted by countries to report on the implementation of the SDGs (SLOCAT, 2021). The SLOCAT review confirms that the transport sector is a crucial contributing factor to SDG implementation. Nonetheless, as also commented by ESCAP, less than half of VNRs have included explicit references to transport sustainability impacts (ESCAP, 2020b).

6. This first Asia specific status report brings together the latest data from official data sources (country statistics, United Nations, World Bank, International Energy Agency etc.) and non-official data sources (non-governmental organisations etc.) for the Asia-Pacific region to review the implementation of transport related SDG targets. Where possible, we document transport sector trends compared to global and other areas to describe progress in Asia. For each of the areas covered, examples of policy action by countries in the Asia and the Pacific region are provided. The report is, in the majority of cases, based on information from 2020 or before. This means that the impact of COVID-19 is not yet taken into account, unless specifically indicated.

7. This first status report on the implementation of transport related SDG targets in Asia makes active use of the information contained in the Asian Transport Outlook (ATO), a new initiative by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to build the knowledge base on transport in Asia and the Pacific. The ATO supports the planning and delivery of transport sector assistance by ADB and transport initiatives by Asian governments, in line with the SDGs, Paris Agreement, and other international agreements (ADB, 2021a). The ATO is an open data resource consisting of an institutionalised transport data and policy information collection, analysis, and documentation process. The ATO collects, organises, and shares data on the transport sector in 51 countries/ regions using about 450 indicators. It also documents the institutional frameworks, policies, and financing of transport in these countries. It is envisaged that this report will be repeated on a regular basis and that the scope of analysis expands in line with progress realised in the development of the ATO.

8. The report is divided in seven themes: transport and the economy, infrastructure and transport activity, urban transport, transport and energy, climate change, air pollution, and road safety. Transport related SDG targets and SDG indicators have been organised under these headings in table 2. The SDG indicators are combined with several additional ATO indicators to shape the review of the transport-related SDG targets. The scope of analysis, unless otherwise indicated, is the coverage of the ATO, which contains all developing and developed member countries of the ADB in Asia and the Pacific as well as Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation.

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:

SDG 8.1Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least seven percent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries

SDG 8.5 — By 2030 achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value

SDG 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships

Transport and Economy Indicators

A. Gross Value Added by Transport, Storage & Communications

10. In 2019, the transport, storage and communications sector contributed 2.1 trillion USD to the GDP in Asia and the Pacific region and globally about 7.3 trillion USD. Since the start of the implementation of the SDG’s, transport gross value-added growth (value of industry production) has slightly increased globally due to high growth in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The highest intensity of annual Increase in gross value added in the transport sector occurred in the Europe and Northern America. In the case of the ATO economies gross value added by the transport sector has either decreased or has remained about the same in the period 2015–2019, compared to the period 2015–2019.

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)

B. Transport Sector Employment (+ Storage + Communications)

11. Employment is the primary source of income for the vast majority of households worldwide (ILO, 2019). The International Labour Organisation has estimated that out of 5.7 billion global working age-population, 3.3 billion people are employed in various sectors. The transportation sector offers a wide variety of employment involving different skills sets. In 2019, in Asia, it was estimated that the transport sector employs more than 165 million people (based on ILO estimates), accounting for more than 8% of total employment in the region. Transport related employment continues to grow both globally and in the case of Asia (Figure 2). These employment numbers do not include informal employment in the transport sector, which is generally believed to be considerable, especially in those developing countries that still have sizeable informal transport systems. However, since the start of the implementation of the SDG’s, the rate of transport sector employment growth has reduced slightly in Asia by about 2.8%, which is equal to the global average.

Figure 2: Employment in Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TRE-002 (ILO, 2020a)

C. Workers in Transport who are Female

12. Data on the share of women employed in the transport sector is generally scarce. However, the limited data available from the ILO (ILO, 2021a) and the World Bank (SUM4ALL, 2021) show that female participation in the transport industry is low in Asia, i.e., below 15% except in the case of Oceania. Moreover, since the start of the implementation of the SDG’s, the growth of women employment in the transport sector has reduced significantly in Asia whereas the annual growth rate was 4.1% in the period before 2015, this is now only 2.9%. In comparison, growth of women employment in the transport sector globally has reduced only from 2.7% to 2.5%, respectively (for 2000–2015 and after 2015).

Figure 3: Female employment in Transport, Storage & Communications, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TRE-014 (ILO, 2021a)

D. Gross Value Added per Employee in Transport Sector

13. The growth of GDP is a combination of employment growth and productivity growth. For productivity growth, the gross value added by the transport sector per employee is considered a proxy. In 2019, the average gross value added per employee in Asia’s transport, storage and communications sector was about 18,000 USD, i.e., roughly half the global average. Since the start on the implementation of the SDG’s, the transport sector “productivity” has reduced slightly in Asia with an annual growth rate of 1.3% compared with 1.4% in the period 2000–2015. In comparison, the global transport sector “productivity” has increased from 0.9% to 1.6% respectively (for 2000–2015 and after 2015).

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)

E. Monthly wages in the Transport Sector

14. Since the start of the implemention of the SDG’s in 2015, the average wage in the transport and storage industry (ILO, 2021b) in Asia was about 1300 USD, (2017 PPP), while globally, it was 1700. In Asia, on average, the monthly wage rate in the transport and storage sector is about 70 USD (2017 PPP) lower than the national average. Moreover, since 2015, the average monthly salary growth has decreased globally, across Central and Southern Asia and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. In contrast, it has increased in Oceania & Europe and Northern America. The highest transport and storage sector monthly wages in Asia are in Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Japan.

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)

15. In Asia, while female participation in the transport industry is low; there is almost on wage disparity. In 47% of Asian economies, women are paid marginally higher than men in the transport and storage industry. However, globally, the ILO estimates that women continue to be paid about 20% less than men across the world (ILO, 2020b) and sectors.

F. Transport Sector PPP Investments

16. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a vital instrument for private participation in transport infrastructure investment, delivery, and management. In 2019, close to 73% of global PPP in the transport sector were in Asia. Since the implementation of SDG’s, PPP transport investments globally decreased from an annual growth rate of 15% over 2000–2015 to a yearly growth rate of -5.5% (2015–2019). However, the investment in transport projects with private participation increased in the Asian countries with an annual rate of 57%. In 2020, due to covid-2019, private participation in transport projects decreased in Asia by 84% and globally by 78% from 2019 levels.

Figure 6: Transport Sector PPP Investments, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ATO database. SEC-TIV-014 (World Bank, 2020)

17. Since 2000, the transport sector share in total PPP investments increased till 2015 across all the regions. However, since the implementation of the SDG’s, the global transport sector share in PPP investments have decreased. This global pattern is not applicable to most of Asia where the transport share of PPPs peaked in 2020, before this because of COVID-19 in 2020 sharply reduced.

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).

20. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda consider passenger and freight volumes moved by the Member States and Regions to be a good proxy of regional and transborder infrastructure. Therefore, growth in passenger and freight volumes is considered an “effect” of robust infrastructure development and economic growth in States and Regions. Related SDG Targets include:

SDG 9.1Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all

SDG 9.c — Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the internet in the least developed countries by 2020

Transport Infrastructure Indicators

A. Inland Transport Infrastructure

21. Transport infrastructure is at present disproportionately distributed across the regions with the lowest access in low and lower-middle-income countries and regions. The most significant increase in absolute terms of transport infrastructure can be seen in the expansion of the road network. Overall, roads continue to form the backbone of the transport infrastructure, with most passenger transport and freight transport being transported by road. Moreover, the role of road transport continues to grow. Overall, the growth in infrastructure remains well behind the Increase in GDP.

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)

22. Since the start of the implementation of the SDG’s, heavy railways in Asia have grown faster compared with historical development, but overall since 2010, heavy railways only increased by 4.4%. In comparison, however, High-Speed rail, grew more quickly with 285%, albeit from a very low baseline. The growth of high speed railways in Asia is now also involving a growing number of countries.

Figure 9: Growth of transport infrastructure (high-speed rail), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-TTI-019 (UIC, 2020)

B. Passenger and freight volumes

23. The demand for passenger and inland-freight transport is closely correlated with growth in population, economic activities and trade. However, not all populations and geographic regions equally contribute to global transport demand. The International Transport Forum has estimated that low- and middle-income economies have significantly lower mobility levels when compared with high-income economies (ITF, 2021). However, with growth in per capita income leading to increased ownership and use of private vehicles and increased consumption of goods and services to meet social, economic, educational and recreational needs, the demand for transport will significantly increase in low- and middle-income economies. The ratio Passenger Kilometers Travelled pre capita in the case of the developed world has decreased between 2015 and 2020, in the case of Asia no such change can be observed.

Figure 10: Growth of transport activity in passenger kilometer travelled (PKT) and ton kilometer travelled (TKT), ITF Transport Outlook (ITF, 2021)

C. Rural Population without Access in 2018

24. Accessibility is key to eradicating poverty. Good rural access positively impacts the rural economy and indirectly leads to improved food security and zero hunger (SDG, Goal 2). However, globally about 1.2 billion rural residents, approximately 30% of the world’s rural population, still do not have all-season access to road networks. In Asia and the Pacific region, 25% of the rural population, i.e., 560 million or half of the global rural population, live more than 2 km from an all-season road.

Figure 11: Rural population with no access, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ACC-RAC-001 (TRL, 2019)

D. Population covered by a mobile network, by technology-2G,3G,4G

25. Access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is covered by SDG Goal 9.c, which aims to ‘significantly increase access to ICT and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in the least developed countries by 2020’. Enhancing affordable digital connectivity utilising a computer, mobile phone or personal digital assistant can be positively linked to achieving most of the 17 UN SDGs, (GESI, 2021).

26. Since the implementation of the SDG’s, the percentage of inhabitants living within the range of a mobile-cellular network has increased across all the regions, especially for 3G and 4G connectivity. However, despite a global rise in network penetration, access to Internet connections remains lower for residents across the developing world, albeit that the latter has started to catch up. Conversely, limitations in the access, affordability and speed of internet connections affect the ability of technology to bridge the existing digital inequality. Overcoming the digital divide will be key to ensure that ICTs can replace physical travel to the maximum extent.

Figure 12: Population covered by a mobile network by technology (2G, 3G, 4G), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: INF-ICT-010 (UNstats, 2021a)

E. Percentage of individuals using the internet

27. In Asia, as of 2018, 44% of the individuals use the internet compared to 3% in 2000. In comparison, Europe and Northern America, this share was 24% in 2000 and 88% in 2018. Since the implementation of the SDG’s, the digital divide between developing and developed countries is rapidly being bridged. However, there is still considerable potential to improve digital connectivity across low- and middle-income economies.

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:

SDG11.2 — By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons

Urban Transport Indicators

A. Share of population with convenient access to public transport

30. The high intensity of urbanisation in the past decade, especially in the cities of Asia and Africa, has increased the demand for public transport, but, unfortunately, convenient access to public transportation is not enjoyed by all urban residents. To measure the progress towards achieving SDG Target 11.2, it is important to measure the access to reliable public transportation, using a proxy of the percentage of population within [0.5] kilometres of public transit running at least every twenty minutes. Public transportation is defined as a shared passenger transport service that is available to the public. It includes buses, trolleys, trams, trains, subways, and ferries (SDSN, 2020). Based on the data collected and reported by UN-Habitat (UN-Habitat, 2020), public transit access is still inferior in developing cities of Asia and Africa. Out of 10 people, only about 3 to 4 have the possibility of convenient access to urban public transit. In the case of Asia, this means that 1.37 billion urban residents lack efficient access to urban public transit. For Oceania, the data is available only for Australia and New Zealand.

Figure 14: Share of urban population with convenient access to public transport (stations/stops), Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: ACC-UDB-001 (SDG, 2020)

B. Rapid Transit Kilometers (BRT, Metro, LRT)

31. Since the start of the implementation of the SDG’s in 2015, Asia is the only global region where rapid public transport infrastructure has increased at a higher rate when compared with historical development and when compared with other regions. However, this growth was exclusively in urban rail infrastructure lines while rapid bus transit system growth has stagnated.

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)

C. Urban Transport Mode Share

32. The existing passenger activity modal share reflects the total urban passenger activity carried out through different modes of urban transport, i.e. active mobility (walking, cycling), public transit (bus, rail), intermediate public transit and shared mobility (shared auto-rickshaws, private autos, taxis/cabs, shared bikes) and private transport (two-wheelers and cars). In 2015 in Asia, the urban travel mode share predominately favoured personal motorised mobility (two-wheelers and cars) followed by the formal and informal public transit with shared mobility. In contrast, Latin American and Caribbean countries urban travel mode share was dominated by public transit activity. However, where restrictions were put in place in some places to limit the impacts of Covid-19, there was a significant shift in mobility from public transit and shared mobility towards private modes.

Figure 16: Urban Transport Mode Share (IPT = intermediate public transport), ITF transport Outlook 2021 (ITF, 2021)

33. In terms of urban freight, since the start of the implementation of SDG’s, the non-motorised vehicle activity mode share in urban freight has started to show up across all regions. However, the International transport forum estimates reveal that only in OECD economies, the non-motorised vehicle activity mode share in urban freight exceeds 1%.

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:

SDG 7.2 — By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

SDG 7.3 — Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030

SDG 12.c — Rationalise inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimising the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities

Transport and Energy-related Indicators

A. Transport Energy Consumption

36. Transport sector energy demand has steadily grown over the past decade, but at present, the transport sector is still the least diversified energy consumption sector. The primary sources of renewable energy in the transport sector include — renewable hydrogen, synthetic fuels, electro-fuels (when electricity is renewable), biofuels etc. Of all the renewable energy consumed in the energy sector, the global transport share is 6%, and in Asia and the Pacific region, it is only about 3.6%. Globally, about 92% of the transport sector is still driven by oil, with electricity still meeting only 1% of transport fuel demand in 2018. In Asia, about 88% of the transport sector is driven by oil, with electricity meeting about 3% of transport fuel demand in 2018. Since the start of the implementation of the SDG’s, the renewable energy consumption in transport sector has grown annually at 5% globally and 17% in Asia.

Figure 18: Transport energy consumption share by source, UNstats (2021b)

37. Across the global regions, most of the projected growth in transportation energy use occurs in the developing non-OECD economies and within all global regions, the majority of transport energy consumption is within the road sector. Globally, among modes, roads, railways, aviation, and waterways are responsible for 89%, 2%, 7% and 2% of energy consumption (IEA, 2018). Railways have made most progress in terms of energy transition. Globally, three-quarters of passenger rail transport and almost half of all freight rail are now electric (IEA, 2019a). In Asia, railways have also made significant progress in the transition away from fossil fuel, People’s Republic of China (PRC) railway network is 70% electrified and India 50%. Since 2000, the electricity consumption in railways in ATO economies has increased by 100%, while diesel consumption has reduced by 40%.

Figure 19: Transport final energy consumption by mode in terajoule (TJ), UNstats (2020b)

B. Transport Energy Intensity

38. The International Energy Agency has quantified that global transport sector energy intensity (total energy consumption per unit of GDP) dropped by 2.3% in 2019 after falling an average of 1.4% per year between 2000 and 2018. Further, the transport sector energy intensity in Asian economies is lower than the OECD economies.

Figure 20: Transport Energy Intensity (USD = united states dollar), (IEA, 2020)

39. Before the start of the implementation of the SDGs, the annual rate of improvement in transport sector energy intensity in PRC (-0.9%), India (-0.4%) was significantly lower than other countries in Asia and Pacific region (-1.5%), Global (-1.5%), North America (-1.3%) and Europe (-1.1%) (IEA, 2020). However, since the adoption of the SDGs, transport sector energy intensity improvement in PRC and India exceeds the SDG’s target of the doubling rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

C. LDV Fuel Economy

40. The IEA has estimated that transport energy use covered by mandatory energy efficiency policies increased from 23% in 2010 to 35% in 2018 due to the adoption of fuel economy policies (IEA, 2021a). For example, the Global Fuel Economy (GFE) Initiative partnership now works with more than 100 countries to initiate and implement fuel economy policies on Light Duty Vehicles (LDVs) (GFEI, 2020). Since the start of the implementation of the SDGs the fuel economy of LDV’s in Asia has improved at a much higher pace but still significantly lower than global targets (double passenger vehicle fuel economy by 2030). In the ten years between 2005 and 2015, the average vehicle fuel economy of new LDVs (l/100km) globally and in Asia improved by around 1.7% and 0.5% annually, respectively. However, since 2015, fuel economy has improved by 1.5% globally and 1.7% in Asia.

Figure 21: LDV Fuel Economy (WLTP = world harmonised Light vehicle test procedure; LDV = light duty vehicle; FE = fuel economy)

D. Transport Fossil Fuel Subsidy, Million USD

41. Over the past decade, increasingly, countries have increasingly recognised the negative economic, environmental, and social consequences of fossil fuel subsidies. Within the transport sector, fossil fuel subsidies encourage excessive energy consumption, disincentivise investments in transport renewable energy & energy efficiency, and aggravate the vulnerability to volatile international energy prices. Between 2010 to 2015, the total global fossil fuel subsidy in the transport sector was 782 billion USD. Since 2015 when the SDGs were adopted, for the period 2015–2020, this amount was reduced to 352 billion USD, a 55% reduction in the total amount of transport sector related fossil fuel subsidies (sensitive to crude oil price fluctuations). In 2019, Asian countries spent nearly 34 billion USD to subsidise fossil fuels in the transport sector, accounting for about 44% of the global transport sector fossil fuel subsidy.

Figure 22: Fossil fuel subsidy for transport sector (USD = united states dollar), IEA Fossil Fuel Subsidies (IEA, 2021b)

E. Share of countries with LDV Fuel Economy Policies

42. Globally, 53 countries and within Asia, nine countries have adopted fuel economy policies for LDVs. Several Asian countries have, since 2015, proposed new or strengthened existing fuel economy regulations for light duty-vehicles. For example, PRC has progressively improved LDV fuel economy standards by recently setting Corporate Average Fuel Consumption targets of 4.0 L/100 km for 2025 and 3.2 L/100km for 2030 (IEA, 2019b). South East Asian countries have adopted the ASEAN Fuel Economy Roadmap for Transport Sector 2018–2025. In this roadmap, the average fuel consumption per 100 km of new LDVs sold in ASEAN is proposed to be reduced by 26 percent between 2015 and 2025 (ASEAN, 2018). In India, new LDVs sold have been subjected to fuel-consumption standards starting 2017–2018. By 2022–2023, a second set of fuel economy standards will come into force.

Figure 23: Share of countries with light duty vehicle (LDV) fuel economy policy, UNEP (2021a)

F. Share of countries where Fossil fuel pump prices are fully liberalised

43. Having true market prices for transport fuels will help reduce the amount of kilometers driven. 13% of countries in Asia have fully liberalized the gasoline prices and 15% of countries have fully liberalized the gasoline prices globally. In Asia, countries Armenia, Georgia, Hong Kong,China, India, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Singapore, Tajikistan & Uzbekistan have fully liberalised the gasoline and diesel prices while Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand & Thailand have fully liberalised the gasoline prices.

Figure 24: Share of countries with fully liberalised gasoline pump prices, IEA Gasoline Prices (IEA, 2021c)

G. Share of countries with Electrification and Transport renewable Energy targets

44. By end of 2021, 29 countries in Asia (ADB, 2021b) and 46 countries globally (CHANGING TRANSPORT, 2021) have announced targets to electrify transport and/or phase out internal combustion vehicles over the next 10–30 years in their NDCs or in other policy documents . If, biofuel related targets are included as well the dominance of Asia in terms of the number of targets in place is even more pronounced.

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:

SDG 13.1 — Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

SDG 1.5 — By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters

SDG 13.2 — Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planningTransport and Climate Change Indicators

Transport and Climate Change Indicators

A. Transport CO2 Emissions

47. Since the SDGs were adopted in 2015, transport CO2 emissions have increased 1.1% globally and 2.7% in Asia annually. Since 2010, among all sectors, the transport sector had globally the highest intensity of CO2 emissions growth with the fastest growth in Asia. Carbon emissions in the Asian transport sector are predominantly from the road transport sector, with about 89% in 2018. Asian railways, domestic navigation, and domestic aviation have a share of 1.8%, 4.5% and 5.2% respectively.

Figure 26: Transport CO2 Emissions Annual Growth, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: CLC-VRE-048 (EDGAR, 2021)

B. Transport CO2 Intensity (with GDP)

48. Since 2000, close to 85% of Asian economies have increased their transport CO2 emissions slower than the GDP (relative decoupling) indicating an increased resource-use efficiency often resulting from the adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies. The highest level of relative decoupling of transport CO2 emissions with GDP is observed in Latin America and Caribbean countries in the period 2016–2019, followed by Europe and Northern America.

Figure 27: Annual improvement of transport CO2 Intensity (with gross domestic product (GDP)), EDGAR (2021)

C. ND Gain Index for Infrastructure Vulnerability

49. The data from Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN, 2021) indicates that since 2000, there is a marginal decrease in climate vulnerability of infrastructure (multiple sectors including transport), i.e., from 0.34 to 0.32, showing a very slight improvement in adaptive capacity of the overall infrastructure to cope or adapt to climate-exacerbated hazards. Further, the infrastructure resilience of lower-income countries, including those in Asia, is significantly lower than more prosperous countries.

Figure 28: ND Gain Index for Infrastructure Vulnerability, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: CLC-CVT-001 (ND-GAIN, 2021)

D. Expected annual damage (EAD) to Transport surface infrastructure

50. Countries are at a growing risk from environmental hazards that are projected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change and ecological devastation. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2021) indicates that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy rain have become more intense and frequent globally over the past seven decades.

51. Future population growth, urbanisation, and infrastructure development will affect future vulnerability and exposure, especially in developing countries. One of the SDG indicators relevant for the transport sector is — “Direct economic loss in relation to global GDP, damage to critical infrastructure and number of disruptions to basic services, attributed to disasters”. E.E. Koks et al. (2019) has estimated that about 27% of all global surface transport assets are exposed to at least one hazard, and about 7.5% of all surface transport assets are exposed to a 1/100 year flood event. The Global Expected Annual Damages (EAD) due to direct damage to surface transport assets range from 3.1 to 22 billion U.S. dollars, of which 60% occurs in Asia, which constitutes about 30% of surface transport infrastructure. While the Global EAD is insignificant compared with GDP (0.02%), it reaches about 0.5% of GDP in some small island development states, which is significant. Unfortunately, time-series data is not available to track the Increase of frequency and severity of damages.

Figure 29: Expected annual damage (EAD) to Transport surface infrastructure, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: CLC-CVT-002

E. Transport Focus Long Term Emission Reduction Strategies (LTS)

52. Till now, 12 (Australia, PRC, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Nepal, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Tonga) countries in Asia and the Pacific region have submitted their LTSs out of 48 in total, by all the Paris Agreement parties. Generally, the coverage of transport is through listing various mitigation activities and scenarios for their role out. No quantified emission reduction targets for the transport sector are provided with the exception of Japan.

F. Transport Focus Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

53. Initial NDCs were submitted in 2015 prior to COP21 which resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement. In almost 53% of the first generation NDCs submitted by Asian countries, (26 out of 49) transport is acknowledged as a sector where action will be taken. About 26 of the initial NDCs, submitted in 2015 lists a number of envisaged mitigation activities in the transport sector.

54. In preparation of COP26 in 2021 all parties to the UNFCCC were invited to submit enhanced ambition NDCs. In the case of Asia this resulted in 33 updated or second generation NDCs. Part of the updated NDCs (14) show increased ambition on transport by including or raising transport related emission reduction targets. 14 of the NDCs have included additional mitigation activities in the transport sector in the updated NDCs.

55. The coverage of adaptation to climate change in the transport sector is more limited than the coverage of mitigation actions. Only 9 out of the initial 49 NDCs submitted in 2015 cover transport specific adaptation actions (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Timor Leste, and Tajikistan) (CHANGING TRANSPORT, 2021). Also in the 27 updated NDCs adaptation in the transport sector has not gained much more focus.

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:

SDG 3.9By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination

SDG 11.6 — By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management

Air Pollution and Transport Indicators

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

58. From 2000 to 2015, transport sector air pollutant emissions (PM10, NOx, SOx and BC) grew most in Europe and the Northern America region. By 2015, Asia contributed to about 8%, 11%, 5% and 9% of PM10, NOx, SOx and BC emissions. In Asia, In the period 1990 till 2000, air pollutant emissions from the ATO economies’ transport sector, especially in Eastern and South Eastern Asia, grew faster than the other sectors in the economy. Following this, in overall terms the growth of transport emission (PM10, NOx, SOx and BC) slowed down in the 2000s. However, since 2010, growth rates in transport are higher again than for other sectors due to a rapid increase in transport activity and a relative slowing pace in tightening of transport related regulatory standards, i.e., emission standards and fuel quality. The growth of transport related air pollution emissions, however, is lower than the growth in transport related CO2 emissions, which shows the relevance of transport related regulatory standards. These are more developed till now for transport related air pollution compared to transport related CO2 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)

B. Transport Air Pollution Health Impact

59. In terms of health impact, it has been estimated that the economies in the Asia and Pacific region economies, which accounted for 41% of global GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) and 34% of transport fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) emissions contribute up to 73% of the transport sector global disease burden associated with PM2.5 in 2019 (McDuffie et al., 2021). The current transport sector share in ambient fine particulate matter and ozone pollution-related deaths in the Asia and the Pacific region stands at 10% (ICCT, 2019).

60. Road diesel vehicles cause a disproportionate share of road transport-related fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone deaths. Diesel vehicles account for 72% of the total road disease burden associated with PM2.5 and ground-level ozone pollution in the Asia and Pacific region. Since the start of the implementation of the SDGs, transport sector global disease burden associated with PM2.5 increased with 3.3% globally and 3.8% in Asia annually.

Figure 32: Mortality Rate Attributed to Transport Air Pollution, (McDuffie et al., 2021)

61. High exposures to diesel are common in the bus industry, trucking, heavy vehicle repair, mining, and railroads. The number of deaths due to occupational exposure of diesel engine exhaust continues to increase in most parts of Asia, also since the implementation of SDG’s.

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:

SDG 3.6 — By 2020 (2030), halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents (adjusted to 2030)

Road safety Indicators

A. Road Crash Fatalities

64. Since 2015, road traffic crashes have increased at an annual rate of 0.7% globally, 0.3% in Asia and reduced at 0.5% annually in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Asia and the Pacific region still contribute a disproportionate share in global road traffic crash fatalities, i.e., 60% of total road traffic crash fatalities i.e. around 800,000 people are killed each year in Asia due to road crashes.

65. Recognising that countries will not meet the SDG target 3.6 by 2020, governments have proposed the 2020 Stockholm Declaration — an ambitious and forward-looking declaration building upon the Moscow Declaration of 2009 and the Brasilia Declaration of 2015. The Stockholm Declaration calls upon the Member States to reduce road traffic deaths by at least 50% from 2020 to 2030.

Figure 34: Annual growth rate of road crash fatalities, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: RSA-RSI-003 (WHO, 2021a)

B. Cost of Fatalities and Injuries as Share of GDP

66. Road crashes are among the ten leading causes of death worldwide. In 2016, fatalities and serious injuries were estimated to cause economic damages amounting to 1.7 trillion USD to the world economy and about 1.1 trillion USD in Asia. These economic impacts amount to 4–8% of annual GDP, depending on the region. The burden of road fatalitities and injuries and its impacts is very large and it is disproportionately distributed across countries and world regions.

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)

C. Road crash fatalities by road user types in 2016 — Asia

67. The World Health Organisation has estimated that more than half of all road traffic deaths in 2016 are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists (WHO, 2021b). Within Asia, pedestrians and cyclists represent 14% of all road crash related deaths, while motorised two-and three-wheelers represent 43%, car occupants up to 17% of all deaths, and the remaining 27% are unidentified road users. There is a significant difference in the types of road users mostly affected by road traffic crash fatalities in high-income and middle-income and low-income economies. The share of motorised two-and-three-wheelers stands at 43% in low-income and middle-income economies and only about 17% in high-income economies.

Figure 36: Share of road traffic deaths by road user, Asian Transport Outlook Database indicators: RSA-RSI-004 to 008 (WHO, 2021c)

D. Share of Road Infrastructure with 3 Stars or Above

68. Star Ratings provide a simple measure of the level of safety provided by a road infrastructure design for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. The star ratings are derived using road inspection surveys. The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) considers that improving the world’s roads to at least a 3-star or better standard is essential for achieving SDG’s.

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).

Summary

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.

71. The analysis of the transport related SDG targets revealed an inherent tension between different categories of transport related SDG targets. The infrastructure related transport target 9.1 and the rural and urban access related targets are likely to result in an increase of road based transport. At the moment most Asian countries, like other developing parts of the world, have comparatively lower amounts of transport infrastructure and services than the developed world. An increase, especially in road based passenger and freight transport will make it more difficult to realise several of the sustainability related SDG targets like those on air pollution, road safety, energy efficiency and climate change.

72. With constrained progress, the transport sector in Asia could potentially become a roadblock for achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030. Economies with the highest progress on the SDGs in Asia are often high-income economies that already have more comprehensive sustainable transport infrastructure, services, and policy frameworks in place. In contrast, those with the lowest progress have inadequate transport systems and services with more limited policy instruments. However, several good examples exist where economies have managed to reverse their regressing trends on some goals and targets and made significant progress.

73. Overall, we find the following progress in Asia: solid gains on some goals and evidence of some favourable trends, and significant work remains for several of the transport related SDG targets:

— Good Progress on SDG goals related to Energy Efficiency, Information & Communications Technology, Fossil-fuel Subsidies & PPP projects

— Initial momentum building on SDG goals related to Air Pollution, Renewable Energy, Economic Growth, Employment, Resource-use Efficiency, Climate Resilience, Climate Change. Countries now need to redouble efforts on these goals.

— Minimal progress on SDG goals related to Road Safety, Urban and Rural access (considering the ambitions). 800,000 people are still being killed annually in fatal road crashes, 560 million persons lack proper rural access and 1.3 billion urban dwellers lack access to proper public transport.

74. The very large deficiency in access indicates that countries as well as development agencies can’t ignore the development of transport infrastructure and services. While climate change is increasingly dominating the development discussion, including in the transport sector, the priority for many of the economies in Asia and the Pacific is still the creation of transport infrastructure and services, rather than the sustainability of the transport sector. In the case of the developed world, which has a more or less mature transport sector, it is justified to focus now more exclusively on strengthening the sustainability.

78. This analysis had a specific focus on Asia and the Pacific but it is clear that several of the trends observed for this region also apply to other developing regions in the world and in some cases also to the developed world.

76. While transport sector challenges are interrelated, we find significant heterogeneity in transport sector performance along three sustainability dimensions, across sub-regions, between urban and rural areas and across modes resulting in uneven progress.

77. COVID-19, an unprecedented crisis, presents both an enormous challenge and immense opportunities for reaching the 2030 SDG goals. Sustainable transport policies have slowly built up over the last decades. The Millennium Development Goals, in part because of a lack of sectoral focus, did not have a major impact on sustainable transport policies. The intersection of SDG’s (with increased sectoral focus), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the COVID-19 crisis could create a tipping point for the transport sector in which policies and investments over the next years can pave the transport sector path towards the 2030 SDG’s.

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

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Asian Development Bank - Transport

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