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The new normal
Throughout the year, we have seen the world move through various phases of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
As we finally seem to be settling into a new phase, implementing long-term local or national strategies that allow us to continue “living with the virus”, we are slowly but surely starting to see a return to “normal”.
Together, we must take this unique opportunity to construct a “new normal”: a better normal that gives urban space back to people and bets on public transport as the backbone of our mobility systems.
Back to Better Mobility
Over the past few months, through the Back to Better Mobility campaign, UITP and its members have been advocating for public transport as a vital pillar for economic, social and environmental recovery, both in the short and long-term.
Public transport is fundamental to combating climate change, preventing the ‘bounce back’ of air pollution and congestion, encouraging healthy, active lifestyles, and boosting local economies leaving no one and no place behind.
It seems that our message to global leaders around the world has been heard.
This week, as partners of the U20 Initiative, UITP participated in the Urban20 (U20) Annual Mayors’ Summit in Riyadh (30 September – 2 October 2020), a platform that brings together city leaders from around the world to discuss urgent urban issues, such as recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
We must move beyond business-as-usual and work together to deliver the greatest impact for people. Cities and countries should invest in recovery and resilience for a systemic socioeconomic transformation, where public transport and active mobility play a key role to build back better…
In addition, in collaboration with our partner UCLG, we also co-organised a successful U20 official side-event: “Cities for People, the key role of Public Transport to Build Back Better”. This side-event brought together speakers from the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN-HABITAT, the World Bank, many city leaders, and COP25 High Level Champion for Climate Action (and celebrated advocate of our ‘One Planet, One Plan’ campaign), Gonzalo Muñoz.
Throughout this side-event, and the rest of the U20 process, which began in December 2019, we have heard local decision makers agree on the core message of our Better Mobility campaign, understanding that to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (particularly SDG 11.2), public transport must be a key part of both short and long-term urban development plans.
Urban Transport is the backbone of the city and essential for people to access opportunities. It is critical to bear this in mind, to serve people and not cars…
You can read more about the key conclusions from this week’s U20 Summit in the newly released Communiqué to the G20, signed by the city representatives at U20. While U20 Partners are not signatories of the Communiqué itself, we happily endorse it as a promising step in the right direction for better urban mobility with public transport as the backbone. The Communiqué puts forward exactly the kind of commitments we need to see at this phase of the crisis, and public transport is explicitly noted as a valuable asset in rebuilding inclusive, accessible and sustainable cities.
Thanks to the incredible sector-wide efforts of our members who spread the message of this campaign on their various digital channels, in stations and/or on vehicles!
A big thank you again to Madrid Municipality for recognising the Back to Better Mobility campaign with an award for Best Communication & Awareness Campaign for Sustainable Mobility.
And last but not least, thank you to our ambassadors from all over the world for their support and for helping us to push the message of this campaign even further beyond the realm of mobility but integrated within a broader discussion being had on the future of our cities.
While the uphill battle of recovery from the crippling impact of COVID-19 in cities has only just begun, we seem to be heading in the right direction to build back better.