In 2020, the UN adopted a Second Decade of Action for Road Safety – from 2021-2030 – focused on linking road safety design with the Sustainable Development Goals. WRI played a pivotal role in shaping the declaration and has already helped put these ideas into action to inform pedestrianization efforts in India and Turkey, among other cities in the developing world.

The Challenge

Traffic crashes kill more than 1 million people annually, and dangerous roads put vulnerable populations, like children and the elderly, at risk. In 2010, the UN declared 2011-2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety, with most countries signing a declaration to reduce traffic fatalities by 50% by the end of the decade. Still, global traffic fatalities continued to grow. With help from WRI, the UN is now calling on member states to recognize the synergies between the road safety and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to commit to a second global decade of action for road safety.

WRI’s Role

As a member of the UN’s Steering Committee group, WRI helped shape and plan for the UN’s Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety. The conference resulted in the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration, which later prompted the adoption of the UN’s Second Global Decade of Action for Road Safety. The ideas in WRI’s report Sustainable and Safe, which was co-authored with the Global Road Safety Facility (administered by the World Bank), make up key elements of the Stockholm Declaration. These include prioritizing the safety of children and young people, as well as vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians, and welcoming new policies that ensure safe standards for road infrastructure improvements, among others.

Simultaneously, WRI worked to make road safety a reality in cities around the world. In 2017, WRI Türkiye and İzmir Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) wrote a joint report aimed at improving transport infrastructure in Turkey’s İzmir Kemeraltı region. The report provided human-centered recommendations, including new streetlights, signs for direction and designated pedestrian-only hours. In India, following a request from the Lt. Governor of Delhi, the WRI India team led the pedestrianization of “Chandni Chowk,” the most densely populated market street in Delhi, India.

The Outcome

In August 2020, the UN adopted the “Stockholm Declaration” with an increased focus on the interdependence between road safety and the SDGs. With WRI’s support, this agenda has already taken hold in Turkey’s İzmir Kemeraltı region and Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, among other cities in low- and middle-income countries.

Based on WRI’s recommendations, Kemeraltı redesigned 100 streets that now offer attractive and accessible public spaces that prioritize walking, foster a healthier city, reduce traffic congestion and promote local economic development. The city was added to the temporary UNESCO World Heritage List, solidifying its path to becoming a pedestrian-friendly and sustainable city. Meanwhile, Delhi physically transformed Chandi Chowk’s 1.3 kilometers (0.81 miles) from a congested vehicular corridor to a non-motorized public space. Now, there are segregated lanes for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles, as well as designated spaces for vendors.