Ms Veronique Hakim, the current executive director at the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) addressed the United Nations (UN) on behalf of UITP last week on the fundamental role that public transport must play in delivering national climate and sustainable development commitments.

"The countries that supported the Paris Agreement are the same that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals — they comprise all United Nations Member States. And the reason for this consensus is clear: all nations recognise that implementing the 2030 Agenda goes hand-in-glove with limiting global temperature rise and increasing climate resilience," was the message that António Guterres, the new UN Secretary General, made to governments at the UN High Level Event.

The public transport community committed to delivering on national goals

UITP, through its engagement at the UN, represented the global sustainable transport community and was commended for communicating the message that the sector is fundamental to delivering on national goals. The High Level Event presented the timely opportunity to demonstrate to countries that UITP can and is willing to support them to deliver on their commitments on public transport. This is because UITP members will be responsible for delivering on their governments’ ambitions on public transport linked to the Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals which target an expansion of public transport.

UNFCCC Chief Patricia Espinosa said: "Momentum is certainly building in national governments and in the unprecedented alliance of companies, investors, cities, regions, institutions and individuals – all moving towards low-emission, sustainable growth".

Public transport: a key solution to global climate challenges

At the High Level Event's conclusions, the MTA was highlighted as a key solution to global challenges as it may very well be the most powerful engine of sustainable economic growth in the US. By moving more than 8.5m people every single day, it helps New Yorkers avoid releasing carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While the MTA emits just over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually, its operations allow the region to avoid emitting close to 20 million tons of greenhouse gases.

UITP's presence through the MTA ensures that the sustainable transport sector remains high on the UN agenda so that countries can be held to account regarding their promises on public transport. It is all the more important as the UN moves towards supporting the funding and delivery of the global climate and sustainable development agenda which calls for more and better public transport.