Agenda 2030 Graduate School blog

Lund University Agenda 2030 Graduate School is a global, cutting-edge research school and collaboration platform for issues related to societal challenges, sustainability and the 2030 Agenda. The 17 PhD students from all faculties at Lund University enrolled with the Agenda 2030 Graduate School relate their specific research topics to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this blog the PhD students of the Graduate School discuss topical research and societal issues related to the 2030 Agenda.

How can Accountability Measures Contribute to Achieving Sustainable Solutions in the ‘Green’ Transport Sector?

Old painting of women taking the train. Image.
The Travelling Companions, 1862. Artist: Augustus Leopold Egg. Image by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash.

Posted on 18 November 2020 by Phil Justice Flores (Department of Business Administration)

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Agenda 2030 Graduate School or Lund University. The present document is being issued without formal editing.

One of the goals of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to achieve more sustainable cities and communities for the future. In order to do this, big improvements and changes in the transport sector have to be done. Governments have generated campaigns in connection with the SDGs to encourage and promote sustainable transport. However, no clear focus has been set as to who should do what and who is responsible for what. It is a strong and commonly held assumption that the government should be responsible for providing more access to public transport and building infrastructure for other modes of green transport. Nevertheless, transport companies and individuals also need to play their role in achieving the SDGs.

By having clear accountability measures, members of the transport sector, i.e. providers, regulators and users, cannot simply choose which targets are convenient for them to adopt and meet and which goals they can just ignore. For instance, big car manufacturers that claim that their organizations are helping in meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda, but continue to produce fossil fuel-dependent cars, can be held accountable for their actions through control measures, not only by the law, but also by society. As for consumers, if they feel and know that their actions, particularly their transport behavior, have an impact on how people in the future can live their lives, perhaps they will think twice about taking unnecessary car trips and choose cycling instead. However, it is difficult to put the burden to individuals because many people have to act more sustainably, and collective effort is required to see changes. Finally, for policy-makers accountability measures create well-defined expectations for them, making it hard to green-wash every single project they are intending to fund or have already completed.

Although it is clear that Goal 11 is the objective for much of transport, we must remember that providing access to safe and affordable public transport and bike lanes, satisfies the overarching idea of the SDGs of “leaving no one behind”.

November 18, 2020

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