2nd global high-level conference on road safety

BRASILIA, BRAZIL – 7 December 2015 On 18-19 November, more than 2,200 delegates from more than 110 countries, including 70 ministers of transport, health and interior gathered for the 2nd High-Level Conference on Road Safety in Brasilia, Brazil. The Conference theme was “time for results,” and focused on achieving the road safety targets recently adopted as part of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the goals outlined in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. More than 40 Alliance member NGOs contributed to the conference through panel discussions and topic-specific side events aimed at advancing the global road safety agenda. Read themember feedback report to hear what members thought about the conference.

Conference pre-events

Several events organized by leading international road safety organizations were conducted in the days leading up the conference to set the stage and take advantage of representation from road safety professionals around the world.

On Monday, 16th November, Alliance member Latin New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) jumpstarted the road-safety themed week in Brasilia with an event titled 5 Years of Progress. Here they presented their latest crash test results and car safety progress made in Latin America and Caribbean regions since NCAP launched in 2010. The event featured interactive, crash-test simulations and provided key information on improving vehicle safety, a pillar of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Monday also featured a special forum, titled Child Health & Urban Mobility: Safe Roads, Healthy Futures, which focused specifically on child road safety and how it fits into the road safety targets included in the Sustainable Development Goals. The forum was moderated by the FIA Foundation with participation from several government ministries, many NGOs, experts from academia, and representatives from multilateral agencies including UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank.

Transforming our World: NGO Rally for Safe Roads for All, organized in part by the Alliance, was held on Tuesday with enthusiastic participation from NGOs working in countries around the world alongside ministers and public officials representing these countries. The rally opened with a touching speech and a moment of silence for road traffic victims. Jeffrey Witte, President of the Alliance, moderated panel discussions at the rally focused on lessons learned and best practices gathered from NGOs working together with national governments to advance road safety in their countries. In addition, the rally reflected on successes and lessons from global implementation of the#SaveKidsLives campaign. The campaign recently reached a milestone with 1 million signatures gathered to the Children Declaration on Road Safety. The Child Declaration was presented to a variety of Ministers in attendance at the rally.

The Alliance Empowerment Program, a capacity building initiative for NGOs working in road safety, was formally launched at the NGO Rally by the Alliance and program sponsor FedEx. The program is designed to benefit NGOs globally and assist NGOs of all sizes to design and implement road safety programs with measurable results in their communities.

Pre-events ended with The Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards Dinner, hosted by HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO. At the dinner, several organizations and government agencies were awarded for outstanding road safety initiatives, including Alliance-member FEVR for their ongoing stewardship of the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

2nd Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety 

The High-Level Conference officially commenced in Brasilia on 18 November with statements from ministers and heads of delegation from many countries. Country statements were followed by a variety of high-level panel discussions and topic-specific side-events where ministers and experts discussed best practices and challenges from their countries. Discussions also focused on next steps required to achieve the road safety targets included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Throughout the conference, participants frequently referred to the ambitious road safety target of reducing road traffic deaths by 50 percent globally by 2020. It was  emphasized that achieving such a target will require urgent coordinated action and significant political commitment from governments around the world.

At the 1st high-level panel, Jeffrey Witte, President of the Alliance, represented the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety reporting on “Key achievements in the Decade of Action” at its midpoint. Other speakers on the panel included the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Ministers of Transport from countries representing regions across the world. Additional high-level panels focused on: “Next steps to accelerate progress towards achieving the goals of the Decade of Action,” “Setting national and global targets and indicators for road safety,” and “Attaining the Sustainable Development Goal targets on road safety.”

Alongside the larger gatherings, the conference featured a variety of more pointed break-out sessions. Breakout sessions the first day provided opportunity for private sector, multilateral agencies, and NGOs to lead discussions within their area of expertise. Alliance member SafeKids Worldwide and some of its subsidiary organizations hosted a side-event discussion on how to build a national child passenger safety program. Several victims’ rights organizations and Alliance members organized a side-event on the post-crash response and improving national judicial systems. In addition, Alliance member YOURS, with participation from several other Alliance-member NGOs, organized a side-event focused on youth and road safety.

Sessions throughout day two were more geared towards ministerial engagement, and the panels mostly featured Ministers of Transport or other heads of delegation from specific countries. Panel topics from day two included:

  • Road safety management
  • Safer road users and mobility
  • Safer vehicles
  • Safer road users
  • Post-crash response
  • Monitoring & evaluation of road safety programs at national and international levels
  • Road safety technologies: challenges and opportunities
  • Motorcycle safety
  • Drink driving policies
  • Financing road safety
  • Sustainable transport and road safety
  • Road safety legislation and enforcement

Alongside the facilitated panels and breakout sessions, the conference provided ample opportunity for representatives from NGOs, academia, and the private sector to meet with decision makers and government representatives from their specific countries to encourage political commitment and develop partnerships to achieve results.

At the closing high-level panel on attaining the sustainable development goal targets on road safety, optimism ranged on the feasibility of reducing road traffic deaths by 50 percent globally by 2020. Speakers generally agreed on one point: we know what works—we know what policies and interventions work to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities—but what is missing is the political commitment to implement these proven strategies. Hopefully, panelists stated, the 2nd Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety has helped secure this political commitment from participating ministries.

Floor Lieshout, Director of Alliance-member Youth for Road Safety (YOURS) and Vice-President of the Alliance, provided poignant closing remarks calling for action from global decision makers to take road safety seriously and reduce the unacceptable risk that children and vulnerable road users face on the roads everyday.

The 2nd Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety closed with the formal adoption of the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety, acknowledged by all ministers and heads of delegation convened in Brasilia. The Declaration outlines several next steps to improve global road safety following conclusions from the conference.

“The Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety offers renewed impetus and concrete directions for governments around the world as they embark on achieving the ambitious target outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to halve road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020,” stated Etienne Krug, Director of Injury Prevention at the WHO, in a letter following the conference. “I believe that reaching this target is indeed doable, but only if governments demonstrate a strong political will by taking the urgent actions needed to save lives on the roads.”

Alliance member feedback

Based on survey results, Alliance member NGOs generally agreed that the conference was beneficial and inspired commitment to achieve the road safety targets included in the Sustainable Development Goals. Member NGOs also tended to agree that the side-events were more useful for sharing information than the larger, more general plenary sessions. The many networking opportunities at the conference were also cited as a major benefit to attending the conference. Encouragingly, many NGOs in attendance were able to meet with their country’s government representatives during the conference to discuss country-specific priorities and areas for better collaboration. Approximately 76% of Alliance members in attendance were able to meet with high-level delegates from their country.

The conference also inspired specific follow-up action from members. When asked what action they plan to take following the conference, one NGO stated, “we plan to engage our high-level government officials even more. What we have learned is that there is need for increased political will around the world, and this political will is currently lacking in our country. We are going to strive to engage our politicians more so that they prioritize road safety, and we are going to use our connections that we have made at the conference to present directly to our Parliament.”

A full summary report of member’s feedback, including quotes, is available HERE.

Pictures from the conference are available HERE.

Find press coverage of the conference HERE.

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