Panel Discussion: Statement by Ambassador Thoms on “Social Development and economical and environmental responsibility - How to connect remote areas and regions with low accessibility to international transport networks and trade flow”

Feb 18, 2014

(as delivered:)

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would first of all like to thank the organizers of this event for inviting me to speak and share some brief remarks with you.

Today’s discussion takes place in a very timely manner. While at the UN we speak about a future development framework, it is important to keep in mind the aspects of social development as well as the economic and environmental responsibility of all actors in trade flows and transport, be it public or private ones.  

Let me ask you: how can a women living in a remote area take part in the international markets and benefit from the growing global wealth, if she does not even have the means to get to the nearest city in a safe and timely manner? About one billion people around the world still lack access to all-weather roads and are living more than two kilometers away from the nearest paved road. It is our challenge to improve the access to transport ways and trade flows for everyone, no matter where they live.

Just last month, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals discussed sustainable transport as a cross-cutting theme of sustainable development. In the ongoing discussions about the post-2015 framework there is broad consensus that efficient transport is a basic prerequisite for any future development and eradication of poverty.

Sustainable transport concerns all three dimensions of sustainable development:

o   It is vital to the well-functioning of economic activities;

o   it is key to ensuring the social well-being of all and the cohesion of populations;

o   and finally, it ensures a clean environment for current and future generations to benefit from and to use resources sparingly.

In contrast to the congested traffic of urban areas, transport infrastructure and services are inadequate in many rural areas – particularly in developing and emerging economies. In 2012 the international community recognized the increasing significance of the transport sector at the Rio+20 conference and therefore Germany is supporting projects in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe to improve the access to means of transport.

Especially ports are the interface between developing countries and the global economy. 90 % of global freight is currently transported by ship. However, when developing countries and emerging economies expand their ports, they often neglect to develop inland roads and rail networks to connect the local economy to this gateway into the global market. It is therefore essential to improve the efficiency of ports in order to change the lives of those people whose welfare and also wealth depends on those gateways.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I look very much forward to today’s discussion on this issue which is so essential to any successful development effort.

Thank you."

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