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Greening Governance Seminar Series: Navigating Political Roadblocks to Make City Streets Safer

1.25 million people die in traffic collisions each year. We know how to improve road safety, but it’s not a priority for most cities. Why? Experts dive into the politics to explain.


An estimated 1.25 million people are killed and a staggering 50 million are injured in traffic collisions each year. Yet road safety remains a remarkably low political priority in cities around the world. Both politicians and the public tend to blame individual road users for traffic crashes rather than ineffective policies or shortsighted urban planning. Many officials even see road safety as an issue in direct conflict with other pressing concerns, such as reducing congestion or shortening journey times.

Cities’ failure to break through the politics and prioritize road safety disproportionately impacts poorer residents who tend to use more vulnerable means of transport, like walking, cycling or motorcycling. Those who can least afford it end up bearing the brunt of lost wages, hospital bills or interrupted education.

But research from WRI and Overseas Development Institute shows that it is possible to balance competing priorities and save lives by reframing road fatalities as a public health issue and by adopting a more integrated approach to road safety – strategies that are already working in other cities. Building alliances across all levels of government and capitalizing on broader reforms can also help ensure that city planning takes road safety into account. 

Join leading public safety, transportation and governance experts for a discussion on this recent analysis and the politics of road safety. Together, they will spotlight interventions that can reduce fatalities and serious injuries, identify ways that city officials can take to reframe the issue in public debates, and point to steps that decision-makers can take to navigate tricky political dynamics.


Marc ShottenProgram Manager, The Global Road Safety Facility, The World Bank

Anna Bray SharpinUrban Planner and Transportation Associate, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Claudia Adriazola-SteilDirector, Health and Road Safety, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Moderated by: Mark RobinsonGlobal Director, Governance, World Resources Institute

About the Series

WRI's Greening Governance Seminar Series bridges the divide between the governance and environmental communities to identify solutions that benefit people and the planet.

  • Why do some environmental policies succeed in one country but fail in another?
  • What will it take to transform the Paris Agreement’s ambitious commitments into actionable policies?
  • How can decision-makers engage a range of stakeholders, from average citizens to Fortune 500 companies, to build support for policies that protect natural resources and the communities that depend on them?
  • How can governments sustain this environmental action across election cycles?
  • Many of the answers to these questions are, at heart, issues of governance.

Increasing public participation in environmental decision-making can deepen civil society’s commitment to climate change mitigation and yield more equitable, effective policies. Enhancing government transparency equips communities with the information that they need to engage in these policy-making processes. Strengthening accountability frameworks helps ensure that governments make progress on their Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets. In short, good governance can improve climate and environmental outcomes.

Yet the governance and climate communities continue to work in silos, conducting research and implementing programs that remain largely divorced from one another.

WRI’s Greening Governance Seminar Series seeks to bridge this divide by bringing together leading experts from both fields to discuss the intersection of their work, the most pressing environmental governance issues at hand, and solutions that benefit people and the planet.

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