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UK Government Takes Presidency Over The International Transport Forum

3 min

OECD ITF 2018 Marco Urban
As the UK Government takes over the International Transport Forum presidency in Germany, Quadrant Transport explains what will change for the international organisation on transport policy. 

On 18 May, the UK Government assumed the Presidency of the International Transport Forum (ITF), leading its work to improve people’s lives worldwide through cleaner, safer and more innovative transport solutions.

In a ceremony held in Leipzig, Germany, the largest gathering of transport ministers in the world saw current Presidents Morocco hand over the reins to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation for transport policy bringing together 63 countries worldwide, hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Five UK Priorities Set Out For Their Tenure

In a keynote speech, Mr Shapps laid out five priorities for the UK’s tenure: leading the global transport transformation by making Transport more connected, greener, inclusive, safe and resilient, and innovative.

He also used the Forum to bring nations together in solidarity against the invasion of Ukraine, uniting his counterparts in condemning Russia’s heinous acts and atrocities committed against Ukraine’s civilian population.

Transport ministers from around the world will back a call to action, committing to ending all ITF cooperation with Russia and Belarus.

In a speech at the summit, the Transport Secretary said: “Transport binds nations together for the common good. But access to the international transport network is a privilege. It requires countries to act in a responsible and respectful way to each other.

So we cannot stand back when one state, entirely unprovoked, attacks another, killing thousands of innocent people, violating international law and breaching the UN Charter

The Summit was also a chance to demonstrate how innovations in crash avoidance technology can save lives and meet the United Nations’ goal to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030, which ties in with the UK’s own objectives on road safety.

The World Is On The Cusp Of Revolutionary Technology

At the summit, Mr Shapps took part in a demonstration of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – new technology which monitors the road ahead and automatically brakes the car if the driver fails to respond to a collision threat – as well as Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) for motorcycles.

Such technologies are not only being considered for UK vehicles – something we can do now we have greater regulatory freedom after leaving the EU – but it is hoped these will be rolled out worldwide through initiatives like the #STOPTHECRASH Partnership.

 The targeted destruction of one nation’s infrastructure, in particular its transport system, clearly contravenes the very foundations on which the ITF is built

This was followed by another example of international unity: the announcement of a new Air Services Agreement between Canada and the UK. 

It means that crucial transatlantic routes can continue, and planes flying from the UK will continue to enjoy the same access they currently have with Canada, helping the UK maintain its place as Europe’s most important aviation hub. 

The Transport Secretary will sign the bilateral agreement at the event with Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

The Transport Secretary will chair meetings of the intergovernmental Zero Emissions Vehicles Transition Council (ZEVTC), which he is expected to use as an opportunity to discuss coordinating industry and government efforts in the transition to zero emissions HGVs – which will be key to decarbonising our roads and meeting global climate targets.