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Published on April 13th, 2023

Transforming Transportation Conference Highlights High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme

Representatives from our FCDO-funded High Volume Transport Applied Research (HVT) programme participated in the Transforming Transportation conference, which took place on March 14 – 15 in Washington DC. Transforming Transportation is an annual event, hosted by the World Bank, that gathers transport professionals to exchange learnings, make connections, and share the latest trends in the sector.

This year’s conference theme was ‘Accelerating toward green and inclusive mobility,’ paying special attention to ongoing challenges such as climate change, COVID-19, and macroeconomic instability. The theme focused on taking the current context as a starting point to reimagine transport and make it more inclusive, safe, sustainable, and efficient.

The event gathered over 900 attendees in-person and approximately 1,900 virtual attendees, including policymakers and industry leaders.

On the second day of the event, at the ‘Win-Win for Climate and Development: Envisioning the future of Multilateral Development Financing in transport’ session, the panellist highlighted the HVT programme as an example of the important role research plays in allocating adequate financing for transport projects.

The session was moderated by Maruxa Cardama, Secretary General of the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLOCAT). Cardama began by pointing out that, while the conference centred around sustainable transport’s crucial role in overcoming the “interconnected challenges” that we are living with today, investment in transport is lagging.

“It is estimated that governments globally are facing something like a 40 trillion US dollar financial gap for transport infrastructure until 2040,” she said. “That’s more than the energy and telecom sectors combined.”

Infrastructure Advisor Anne Joselin, from FCDO, highlighted the importance of having evidence-based transport research that is also relevant for policy and decision makers, saying, “Evidence matters and inclusion is crucial.”

She highlighted HVT’s work on transit oriented development (TOD), and the work to update the Highway Development and Management Model (HDMM) – or the current HDM-4. For many years, this has been the primary tool, used by governments and development banks, for the appraisal of major road networks of low- and middle-income countries and is a prerequisite for the provision of funding.

“We’re looking to upgrade that tool to bring it into the 21st century,” she said. “Some of the key functional needs that we are bringing into it include climate change, resilience, estimates of greenhouse gas emissions, and road safety benefits.”

Updates to Road Notes, most recently Road Note 31: A Guide to the Structural Design of Surfaced Roads in Tropical and Sub-tropical Regions, are also ‘bringing climate change resilience into road surface construction’ she said. Road Notes are a series of publications and guides focusing on different issues in road transport and construction used across the world.

Key take aways from the event overall were the multiple options in which the transport sector can help to tackle climate change. These include:

  • Scaling electrification (especially in public transport)
  • Encouraging active mobility such as walking and cycling and public transport
  • Creating an enabling environment for innovation

Learn more about the Transforming Transportation Conference and the High Volume Transport Applied Research programme at the project website.