Improving urban transport

Enhancing metropolitan transportation

Efficient use of transport should be promoted through economic instruments and awareness-building measures.


Traditionally transport and communication services have provided the twin life-support systems of cities, enabling the expansion of city boundaries, providing people with access to employment, services, leisure and other opportunities essential for their economic and social advancement. But in cities across the world -- from Buenos Aires to Lagos and Los Angeles -- the burgeoning urban growth in the latter half of this century and the rapid expansion of city boundaries are placing an enormous strain on these services. The grinding traffic congestion in Bangkok and the massive air pollution in Mexico City could be the forerunners of nightmare scenarios in the rapidly growing metropolises of the twenty-first century.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends promoting efficient and environmentally sound urban transport systems in all countries as part of a comprehensive approach to urban transport planning and management.


Both Singapore and Hong Kong have built highly efficient transit systems and have taken remarkably successful demand-management measures. Curitiba has developed a model public transport system over the last 20 years that has reduced ambient air pollution to one of the lowest levels in Brazil. Zurich and Vienna have given a new image to their old trams, making them fashionable again as public transport systems. Cities across Europe are pedestrianizing their central districts, and planners are enthusiastically talking of transit-oriented 'urban villages' to halt urban sprawl.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal