Government representatives, donors and other stakeholders from six East African nations gathered at the Headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the global launch of the UNEP Publication “Share the Road: Investment in Walking and Cycling Road Infrastructure” in Nairobi on November 29th.
At the Share the Road Event, nearly 70 participants gathered from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Government representatives of various agencies ranging from ministries for environment, transport and infrastructure development, city governments and national road authorities were in attendance, as were members of the donor community, including the African Development Bank, European Union, Japanese International Cooperation Agency and World Bank. Also, more than ten civil society groups were present, from environmental NGOs and bicycle promotion groups to researchers and road safety advocates.
This event was the first major meeting hosted by Share the Road, which had two main objectives. The first was to launch the UNEP publication Share the Road: Investment in Walking and Cycling Road Infrastructure. Chapter 1 makes the argument that such investments are a triple win opportunity in the areas of environment, safety and accessibility, which in turn support sustainable development and the achievement of the MDGs. Chapter 2 looks at past and current investment trends and the costs involved in road infrastructure investments. Chapter 3 provides recommendations for action for various stakeholder groups. The two annexes address issues of design and indicators for monitoring project impacts.
The second objective of this event was to directly engage with key East African stakeholders to develop partnerships. East Africa is the first sub-region of focus where Share the Road will expand its activities at both the political advocacy and on-the-ground levels. So far, the main national-level work has been in Kenya, liaising with donors and working with the Kenya Urban Roads Authority on the UN Avenue project.
All country representatives expressed interest in working with UNEP on the Share the Road initiative, citing both existing government efforts to improve walking and cycling road infrastructure and the need for more information sharing and policy and technical support in East Africa to catalyse investments quickly and effectively.
From the opening speech by the UNEP Executive Director Mr. Achim Steiner to the final presentation of the day by UN-Habitat on urban planning issues, there was overwhelming support for Share the Road’s aim to improve investments in walking and cycling road infrastructure. All participants agreed on the need to redress the current situation, especially in East Africa where the rates of urbanization and motorization urgently call for sustainable long-term infrastructure development. A shift in decision-making for systematic allocations in government and donor investments was widely supported as feasible – signalling a strong start for Share the Road in the East Africa sub-region.
More meeting documents will be uploaded here as they are recieved