Mobycon is a member of the Transportation Decarbonisation Alliance (TDA) where Lennart Nout is the chair of the community of interest on active mobility. In the last few months, we have been working together with the TDA to write a call to support. The outcome is an open letter, calling on the participants of COP27 to invest more in capacity building for walking and cycling. Below is a press release, originally posted in Dutch on November 17th.
The Netherlands hopes to see 10,000 active mobility experts trained and deployed in countries worldwide over the next decade. This will be beneficial for the climate and for people’s quality of life. Many countries lack the knowledge and expertise needed to create a safe and comfortable infrastructure for walking and cycling. Minister for the Environment Vivianne Heijnen is signing a new agreement today at an active mobility event at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. The first experts training is expected to start next year.
The Dutch Cycling Embassy, a Dutch organisation working to promote cycling, will be teaming up with the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance, a public-private partnership making transport more sustainable, to organise training for people in developing countries who want to become cycling experts. Also involved will be the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which has a great deal of experience with similar projects in Africa. Potential participants include traffic experts and urban planners, who will learn how to encourage people to walk and cycle and how infrastructure can help create a safe and enjoyable environment for walkers and cyclists in cities. This benefits the climate and our health, as well as public spaces and clean air in cities. Moreover, infrastructure for active mobility is relatively affordable in comparison to other modes of transportation. The Dutch government will cover the start-up costs of the training programme, which amount to €150,000. The ultimate goal is to train 40 groups of 25 participants in 10 regions worldwide. This will result in a total of 10,000 experts.
‘We’re lucky in the Netherlands,’ Ms Heijnen says. ‘We’ve known about the benefits of cycling for years, and we have the money to invest in good cycle paths and bicycle parking. I want the same for other countries, in their interests and in the interests of the environment. This is why we’re signing agreements today to create more active mobility expertise worldwide, and why at the climate summit I’m calling on banks, governments and development organisations to invest in cycling and walking.’
A city that has already invested much in cycling and capacity-building is Quelimane in Mozambique. Mayor Manuel de Araujo: “Quelimane could not have become the cycling city it is today if required knowledge and skill to transform attitudes and to build roads for walking and cycling was not developed first. Education and capacity-building are crucial for building safe and high-quality infrastructure for active mobility. That is why I sincerely hope more countries and financial institutions will support this call to action.”
Institutions like the World Bank are also increasingly recognizing the importance of investing in active mobility, according to Global Director Transport Nicolas Peltier-Thiberge: “The World Bank is committed to decarbonizing the transport sector, and promoting active mobility is a crucial element to this transition. Our Global Facility to Decarbonize Transport is already supporting the design of ambitious bike lane programs, and will be well-positioned to share innovative approaches with governments.”
Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF): “More cycling is essential to decarbonising transport. ECF is proud to represent its members and a wider group of stakeholders at COP to raise awareness of the increased role cycling must play in contributing to the achievement of climate goals, while delivering important co-benefits and improving people’s lives all over the world.”
Bronwen Thornton, CEO of Walk21 Foundation and Chair Africa Network for Walking and Cycling (ANWAC): “Walking is essential for a sustainable transport system, for the vitality of our communities and the health of everyone. Investment in walking as a mode of transport must be scaled up to reflect the need for better infrastructure and the critical contribution it makes to meeting our climate goals. This initiative is a great start.”
This is the first time that active mobility has been given such a prominent role at a climate summit, with three sessions on the subject. The Dutch session is about international funding for active mobility infrastructure and capacity-building being made available by development banks and through climate finance. This is particularly important for developing countries, where the budgets are not always available. In many of these countries there is an increasing demand for transportation and there are many good reasons for turning to cycling and walking to meet that need. The World Bank, the World Resources Institute, the European Cyclists’ Federation, UNEP and many cities including Utrecht and Quelimane, Mozambique, will be participating in the Netherlands’ event. Last Monday, Ms Heijnen announced a government investment of €780 million in cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands.