Senior officials from over 30 Asia-Pacific nations are meeting at a United Nations-backed forum in Bangkok to review progress towards a sustainable and efficient regional transport network.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the “commitment to making sustainable, effective and efficient transport in the Asia-Pacific region a reality for all,” in his message to the second session of the Ministerial Conference on Transport.
Access is the heart of this conference: access to work, to markets and shops, to schools and colleges, to family and friends, to hospitals and sports facilities, he added in the message, which was read out by the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Noeleen Heyzer.
“Yet too many people are still waiting for the road or rail track that will lead to a brighter future,” Mr. Ban noted. “Industry leaders are still waiting for transport measures that will enhance competitiveness. The region as a whole is still waiting for full physical and institutional connectivity between the subregions.”
Noting the ever-growing role of the transport sector in achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he urged Asia-Pacific countries “to reduce transport costs and link high- and low-growth countries in corridors of prosperity.”
The two-day meeting, convened by ESCAP, is evaluating implementation of the Busan Declaration, which was adopted by the first session of the Ministerial Conference on Transport held in the Republic of Korea in 2006.
The Declaration calls for improved regional transport connectivity by linking countries in the region with an integrated intermodal transport and logistics system. Progress so far has seen the entry into force of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network in June 2009.
Participants are sharing information on national transport strategies and initiatives, as well as activities undertaken within the framework of the first phase of the Regional Action Programme for Transport Development which ended last year.
The conference will adopt the second phase of the Regional Action Programme for Transport Development to be implemented between 2012 and 2016, as well as a regional strategic framework for facilitation of international road transport, as part of a ministerial declaration to be issued, reaffirming commitment to regional cooperation in transport development.
It is also expected to issue a ministerial declaration reaffirming commitment to regional cooperation in transport development and a regional strategic framework for facilitation of international road transport.