DRUSKININKAI, Lithuania, 4 April 2011 – The need for co-ordinated policies to ensure transport grows sustainably to benefit the environment as well as the economy is the topic of a two-day meeting that opened today in the Lithuanian town of Druskininkai.
The second preparatory meeting of the Economic and Environmental Forum, organized by Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities in co-operation with the Lithuanian Chairmanship, brings together more than 150 experts and officials from the OSCE’s 56 participating States.
“The Lithuanian Chairmanship is inviting the OSCE participating States, international organizations, experts and civil society representatives to express their views, ideas and suggestions on how to promote sustainable transport and implement its principles in legislation and business practices,” said Lithuanian Vice Foreign Minister Egidijus Meilūnas at the opening session.
Lithuanian Vice Minister of Transport and Communications Arūnas Štaras said: “Rising incomes, more leisure time, new technologies and the ageing population are just a few examples of trends that will influence the future development of the transport sector in terms of both freight and passenger transport. Therefore, those changes are likely to demand greater transport safety, security and comfort, while the growth of traffic and urban environmental tension risks working in the opposite direction.”
Meeting participants will discuss the role of policies in enhancing innovation and technologies for environmentally-friendly transportation choices, the facilitation of international land transport and the integration of transport networks in the OSCE area.
OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut emphasized that the transport sector “provides fundamental cross-sectoral communication channels, brings people and businesses closer to each other, and facilitates trade, thus making development and growth possible and contributing to spreading prosperity.”
“I am confident that this meeting will be useful in generating a clearer view on the existing needs and on the possible ways forward, on the elements that can contribute to the sustainable development of transport in our countries and in our region,” he added.
Highlighting the positive economic and social benefits of increasing transport as well as the environmental threats, the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Goran Svilanović said: “An increase of transport activities will doubtless generate social and economic wealth, but it can also entail energy scarcity, increase greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate environment degradation, and lead to traffic congestion. Therefore, it is in our interest to discuss and work on the right policies, enhance our co-operation, focus on new technologies and change our behaviour as users. We cannot question the necessity of moving, but we have to learn how to do it in a sustainable way.”
The Nineteenth OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum is focusing on "promotion of common actions and co-operation in the OSCE area in the fields of development of sustainable energy and transport". The First Preparatory Meeting on sustainable energy was held on 7 and 8 February in Vienna. The concluding Meeting of the Forum will be held in Prague on 14 to 16 September.
The Economic and Environmental Forum, the main annual event of the OSCE's economic and environmental dimension, gives political impetus to dialogue in this area and contributes to the generation of recommendations and follow-up activities.