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Regional Transport Action Plan to propel shift towards sustainability — UfM official

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Feb 18,2023 - Last updated at Feb 18,2023

Francesc Carbonell

AMMAN — Accelerating the shift to sustainable, climate-neutral transport systems is a main objective of the Union for the Mediterranean’s (UfM) new Regional Transport Action Plan (2021-2027), according to a UfM official. 

In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, Francesc Carbonell, head of the Transport Sector of UfM General Secretariat and a leading expert in the Transport industry in the Euro-Mediterranean region, pointed out that sustainable transport is mainstreamed across eight Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

“This highlights the cross-cutting role of safe, accessible and sustainable transport services, which can contribute to fostering economic and social development at a regional and cross-border level,” he said.

The transition towards more sustainable mobility involves pursuing emissions reduction targets across all modes of transport, he added. 

Examples of guiding measures that can be adopted to make maritime transport more environmentally friendly include the deployment of alternative fuels and the use of shore-side electricity for docked vessels, which enables them to turn off their engines, as well as relegating “the access of the most polluting ships to ports”, according to Carbonell.

Moreover, “smart traffic management systems” enabled by digitalisation can help reduce congestion and pollution in cities, he added. 

The most recent UfM transport plan also aims to strengthen “regional integration” through ratifying relevant international conventions and EU agreements, in addition to enhancing transport infrastructure connectivity, which enables all UfM countries to benefit from a “common area of economic integration”, Carbonell said. 

He also stressed that maritime transport, which accounts for roughly 80 per cent of the volume of freight traffic worldwide, is a key facilitator of international trade and a main focus of the new plan. 

Improvements in maritime connectivity involve creating a “maritime single window”, a digitalisation strategy that facilitates the exchange and management of information and simplifies administrative procedures related to seaport business, he said. 

Additionally, the 2021-2027 plan is committed to women’s empowerment in the transport sector, through ensuring their effective participation in the planning and implementation of strategies and policies in addition to increasing their access to transport professions, Carbonell added. 

The new plan was endorsed by UfM ministers during the second UfM Ministerial Conference on Transport, which took place on February 9, co-chaired by the EU and Jordan.

Carbonell noted that performance indicators of in the evaluation report of the Regional Transport Action Plan 2014-2020 show that Jordan succeeded in improving maritime safety through implementing an automatic identification system for vessels.

Jordan also managed to adhere to the Maritime Labour Convention regarding seafarers rights, as well as Annex VI of the MARPOL treaty, which involves regulations to prevent and minimise air pollution from ships.

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