Opening Plenary of the ADB Transport Forum 2012

Speech by ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda on 6 November 2012 at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Asian Development Bank for our third Transport Forum. I am particularly delighted to welcome ministers, mayors and city officials from across Asia and the Pacific, as well as other regions, such as Latin America and Africa. South-south cooperation is becoming increasingly important for development, and your presence here promotes such cooperation in the transport sector.

Since its inception in 2008, this event has grown to become an important opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the transport sector in Asia and the Pacific, and potential solutions.  I would like to thank you all for your support and cooperation to this endeavor.

Challenges and opportunities in the transport sector

Transport is one of the most important sectors in our region.

In Asia, we see enormous requirements for infrastructure. One estimate shows that 8 trillion dollars in infrastructure investments are needed over the next ten years in Asia. Transport is a major part of this infrastructure need. Without appropriate and adequate transport, countless millions of people lack access to jobs, markets, hospitals and schools. Regional connectivity remains a major challenge for many countries. Meeting these needs is essential for promoting economic development and reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific.

At the same time, we also see rapid urbanization in Asia. From 1980 to 2010, Asia added more than a billion people to its cities, with a further billion set to be city dwellers by 2040. Asia is home to most of the world’s megacities. The scale, speed, and density of Asia’s urbanization present many challenges. For example, the rapid increase in the number of motorized vehicles is creating more congestion, air pollution, traffic accidents, and greenhouse gas emissions. Asia’s share of the global vehicle fleet has grown from 9% in 1980 to 17% to 2005, and is expected to increase further to 46% by 2030.

These trends make it clear that we must continue to make substantial investments in transport in Asia and the Pacific, but at the same time we should provide transportin an inclusive and sustainable way.

By inclusive, we mean transport systems that are safe, affordable and accessible to all members of society, and not just those who are wealthy enough to own a car. When properly designed, transport makes the movement of goods and people more efficient and affordable, and thereby increases access for the poor to economic opportunities and basic services.

By sustainable, we mean transport systems which minimize the impact on the natural environment, promote the efficient use of scarce resources, including fuel and road space, and protect the health of all citizens.

At ADB, we have been increasing our efforts to support inclusive and sustainable transport. In 2010, we adopted the Sustainable Transport Initiative, which aims to mainstream sustainability into existing areas of transport operations. Through this Initiative, we are enhancing our level of support in four areas: urban transport; addressing climate change in transport; cross border transport and logistics; and road safety and social sustainability.

Accelerating our efforts towards inclusive and sustainable transport will require action at the city, national and regional levels.

At the city level, it is important to identify the types of investments and policy instruments that have worked to alleviate congestion, air pollution and improve safety. Here, we can learn from the innovative approaches taken by cities around the world. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, for example, ADB is supporting the development of a Bus Rapid Transit system modeled on the success of similar systems in Latin America.
At the national level, we need to examine how governments can set up the right financial and legislative frameworks to develop transport infrastructure that is more inclusive and sustainable.

At the regional level, we need to work across national boundaries to facilitate cross-border transport in support of regional cooperation and integration. We can draw lessons from regional cooperation programs, such as the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperationprogram (or CAREC) and Greater Mekong Subregion program (or GMS). Throughthese programs, 27 billion dollars has been invested so far in developing transport networks.

Earlier this year at the Rio+20 sustainable development conference, multilateral development banks reconfirmed their commitment to sustainable transport. ADB and seven other MDBs, expects to provide more than 175 billion dollars in loans and grants for transport in developing countries over the next 10 years. These investments will help develop more sustainable transport systems.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen:

Let us use this Transport Forum as an opportunity to find solutions to our common challenges. Let us build toward more inclusive and sustainable transport systems in Asia and theworld, which will change the lives of billions of people for the better.

Thank you.