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03 July 2019
IRF at the 70th UN Working Party on Transport Statistics

The International Road Federation was among the key stakeholders invited to attend the 70th UN Working Party on Transport Statistics, chaired by the United Nations Commission of Europe (UNECE), which took place at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 12-14June 2019. A key focus was to continue the discussion surrounding the development of a global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Working Party opened with a Workshop on Urban Public Transport Data, discussing the measure of public transport access, production of public transport statistics, and how to address data gaps at the national and international level. Highly interesting presentations to present and discuss methods and challenges in the collection of statistics on urban public transport were delivered by national administrations such as Canada and the UK, as well as by international organisations such as UN Habitat. From the private sector, Transports Publics Genevois (tpg), the public transport operator in the Canton of Geneva, provided great insights into their data analysis, facilitated by having 100% of their vehicles equipped with monitoring sensors.

As one of the international organisations with statistical activities of interest to the Working Party, IRF Data and Programme Manager, Julia Funk, presented the current and future IRF activities in the field of transport statistics. Other organisations who provided updates included the European Commission (DG MOVE and Eurostat) and the International Transport Forum (ITF).

The World Health Organization (WHO), as part of the discussions surrounding SDG indicator 3.6.1, which calls for the halving of road traffic accident fatalities by 2020, provided great insights into the calculation of their estimate of road fatalities by country. This indicator is known to be prone to underreporting, with this presenting a particular issue in developing countries.

Further topics of discussion included issues surrounding measuring passenger and freight volumes by mode of transport, where multimodal traffic comparisons face issues of territoriality vs. residency, i.e. whether freight transport is recorded in the country in which the vehicle is registered, or in the country in which it is being transported. The Working Party moreover received updates from the ECE Statistics Division about the activities of the Interagency and Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDG), in particular about the Statistics Division’s activities on assisting member states to measure SDGs.

Sessions on data collection, methodological development and harmonisation of transport statistics rounded off the meeting. Updates to the fifth edition of the Glossary for Transport Statistics, which also serve as the source of definitions for the IRF World Road Statistics, were discussed. The secretary of the UNECE Working Party on Pollution and Energy presented the need for better data on trade in used vehicles, as no reliable international statistics exist. The collection of statistics on trade in used vehicles, as well as traffic censuses in the ECE region were further sessions covered during the three-day meeting.

For more information, please contact the IRF Secretariat at info[@]irfnet.ch