The International Conference on Environmentally Sustainable Transport was held on 23-25 March 2003 in Nagoya, Japan, jointly organised and hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Japan's Ministry of the Environment, and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The meeting reviewed major trends in Asian countries, highlighted progress and remaining challenges, learned from the OECD's work on environmentally sustainable transport (EST), and considered policies and measures for achieving EST. This statement summarises the findings and conclusions of the conference.
In the context of sustainable development, EST means transport development that meets the needs of the present without preventing future generations from meeting their needs. Achieving EST is a major challenge faced by countries around the world, not only OECD countries but also other Asian countries. In Asia, there are serious transport-related economic and environmental problems, including traffic congestion, inefficient energy use, air and water pollution, and noise. These problems are caused by significant increases in traffic demand resulting from rapid economic growth and urbanisation, poor control of vehicular emissions, and lack of appropriate infrastructure.
The diverse and unique transport systems in Asia have coped with different types of demand for over a century. The numerous positive Asian models are known throughout the world, particularly those concerning passenger transport. Among many examples are the dense urban and interurban railway networks of Japan and Korea and Singapore's advanced systems of demand management, including road pricing. In some Asian countries, public transport systems can provide seamless, almost door-to-door service for large numbers of residents. In other countries, a variety of non-motorised and economical transport systems provide essential service.
However, the high growth in motorised road transport-including two-wheeled vehicles, cars, and trucks-has partly offset the advantages of these transport systems. This rapid motorisation, together with weak land-use planning, fills urban space, accelerates suburbanisation leading to development of an inefficient urban structure that results in unnecessary energy use and negative environment impacts.
In developing countries, public transport is usually heavily road-dependent. Urban and inter-city rail transit systems are yet to be developed or need much further expansion and improvement. Economic conditions can require the use of low-quality fuels and poorly maintained low-quality vehicles, leading to high levels of pollution and inefficient fuel use.
Asia is expected to achieve significant economic growth during the 21st century. This growth will not be sustainable unless issues of transport-related air pollution and use of fossil fuels are addressed. There is need to establish clear environmental goals and timetables that are appropriate to local circumstances and to identify ways of meeting these goals while ensuring social and economic development. This is especially important for developing countries, which have shorter cycles of economic growth and urbanisation, and therefore need timely implementation of effective measures.
The significant achievements that have already been made throughout Asia provide a strong foundation for further progress towards an Asian EST. Development and promotion of an Asian EST will require substantial improvements in technology and in transport demand management. Effective policy instruments could include pricing, spatial planning, development of green transport infrastructure, investment in technology, tighter emissions standards, vehicle inspection systems, and other economic and regulatory policy instruments. An Asian EST could build on the OECD's work on EST, including OECD's EST Guidelines and the proposals for use of a goal-oriented approach, while taking into account Asia's special transport characteristics and needs.
Asian countries and regions are encouraged to: