Introduction - IRF | International Road Federation - Better Roads, Better World

Environment & Climate Change

Environmental concerns have been on the top of government agendas for quite a while now. There is no longer any doubt on the impact human activities have on the environment and on climate change. The challenge ahead is to balance economic growth with responsible energy consumption and environmental protection.

This is particularly important for the road sector. The provision of efficient, flexible, safe and clean transport infrastructure can be regarded as a necessary precondition for economic development as it boosts productivity by facilitating the movement of people and goods. On the other hand, with feverish roads and highways construction in emerging countries and an estimated 70 million vehicles entering the market every year, the steadily increasing demand for mobility of people and goods presents environmental challenges that need to be addressed in the interest of long-term sustainability.

Traditionally and unfairly suffering from a reputation of “unsustainable industry”, the road sector is on the contrary extremely proactive and advanced in the research, development and implementation of new environment-friendly technologies and sustainable solutions. Rather than promoting an ideological approach to environmental mitigation regardless of real costs and outcome, increasingly cost efficient solutions are sought to bring real improvements in environmental performance. This is the approach that the road sector is effectively implementing.

As we move into the future, better roads must be planned, designed, built and operated by practitioners who are fully aware of the impact of their activities and of the possibilities for reducing that impact. The road infrastructure sector is taking on its responsibility.

In keeping with IRF's pro-active approach, several initiatives are already being implemented. One of them is CHANGER, a greenhouse gas calculator specifically developed for road infrastructure projects. This new software tool represents an important first step towards the definition of a common methodology for enabling authoritative benchmarking, against which to assess road infrastructure projects.

To find out more about IRF's activities in the field of Environment and Climate Change, please contact Susanna Zammataro at szammataro@irfnet.ch