Road traffic crashes have a dramatically transformative impact on people’s lives. Road traffic crashes are ubiquitous yet invisible. Most of the time deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes remain almost invisible to society at large. They are a hidden epidemic.
It is in this context that the UN Road Safety Strategy was launched on 28 February in New York, with more than 250 participants from the UN-system, Member States, civil society, philanthropic organizations, academia and the private sector.
The Special Envoy delivered his opening remarks alongside Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General. In his opening remarks, the Special Envoy highlighted high fatality numbers caused by road traffic injuries to UN personnel. He called for collaboration in strong partnerships toward achieving zero fatalities from road crashes within the UN system. He further gave an overview of his visits to Members States and concluded by sharing about the recently established United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund, aimed at supporting road safety projects around the world.
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh and UNICEF staff members, Ms. Shireen Najmeh and Mr. Elias Mizyed shared moving personal stories to raise awareness about the impact of road crashes on UN staff and the urgency to address the issue.
Entitled “A Partnership for Safer Journeys,” the United Nations Road Safety Strategy is based on a “safe-system” approach that manages the complex interaction between speed, vehicles, road infrastructure and road-user behavior to prevent crashes from resulting in serious human injury. The strategy outlines all the factors that contribute to, and influence, the occurrence of road traffic crashes. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres endorsed the strategy in 2018.
As follow-up to the launch, Special Envoy will co-sign a correspondence to all heads of UN agencies to encourage implementation of the UN Road Safety Strategy.
On the same day, led by the World Health Organization, UN senior officials from UNECE, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNHCR and ITU participated at the launch event of the Strategy in Geneva.
Addressing the launch in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, cautioned that the SDG target on halving the number of global deaths and injuries by 2020 (SDG target 3.6) is not currently on course to be met. Bachelet described the road safety strategy as intensely practical and deliverable, and a great example of teamwork between UN agencies. She committed her Office to working to fulfill all five pillars of the strategy.