Background Paper for PIARC WRC 2023 Ministerial Sessions on 2nd October

Organisation of the sessions

There are two Ministerial Sessions scheduled for the first day of the Congress. The first session starts at 10:30 and is dedicated to Road Safety.

The agenda for the first day of the Congress on 2nd October 2023 includes two ministerial panels, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning session is focused on Road Safety. The topic for the afternoon session is cycling. For each panel, a background note with the questions will guide the discussion, which should focus on the actual issues and challenges we face on the global scale.

A professional moderator will lead a discussion through the panels which will be opened by the introductory speeches given by the high-level representatives of international organisations and key global actors such as PIARC, United Nations, International Transport Forum, and the European Commission. Following these opening remarks, the Czech Minister of Transport, Martin Kupka, will kick off the discussion among the heads of delegations.

Due to the large number of Countries participating in the Congress and the limited time dedicated to both sessions, each country will be assigned to one of the Ministerial Sessions based on their national and international transport policies and actions. Delegations will be informed well in advance about the order of the interventions for each session, with priority given to the Countries represented by Ministers. The interventions are limited to 2 minutes per delegation, with simultaneous interpretation provided in following languages: Czech, English, French, Spanish, German, and Polish. If time allows, other heads of delegations not assigned to the respective panel will be allowed to intervene, with interpretation limited to 1 minute per delegation. Further details will be provided in due time through the liaison officer’s channel.

Indicative assignment of Countries for the Ministerial Sessions based on the list of countries officially registered for the Congress.

Road Safety
San Marino
South Africa
Saudi Arabia
United Kingdom


Background note on road safety


The issue of road safety remains a paramount global concern, with millions of lives lost and countless injuries sustained each year due to traffic collisions. In response to this alarming trend, the concept of Vision Zero has emerged as a compelling approach to eliminate all road traffic fatalities and severe injuries. Rooted in the principle that human life and health should be the foremost priority within transportation systems, Vision Zero has gained traction as an ethical imperative. As we convene at the PIARC World Road Congress, our collective understanding of the challenges and avenues towards safer transportation systems can be significantly enriched.

Comprehensive Road Safety Worldwide

Road safety is far from a monolithic challenge and the path toward this goal is not a solitary journey. From the well-organized streets of urban centers to the expanding road networks, the complexity remains universal. It is marked by collaboration, a sharing of experiences across divergent contexts.

Even in countries where road safety frameworks have reached certain level of sophistication, the challenge lies in maintaining and enhancing standards, in continuous improvement. Embracing cutting-edge technologies such as AI-driven traffic management, real-time incident monitoring, and predictive analytics becomes the norm.

On the other side, there are places where road traffic fatalities account to significant share of deaths. Instituting fundamental safety rules and driving a behavioral shift among road users becomes paramount. Infrastructure that balances functionality with safety, all while accommodating rapid urbanization, is the challenge. The road ahead involves simultaneous progress in establishing a culture of adherence to traffic rules.

The trajectory of Vision Zero necessitates investment in research, innovation, and international cooperation. This is where the international platform provided by gatherings such as the PIARC World Road Congress assumes significance. The exchange of ideas, strategies, and best practices resonates profoundly in shaping a common understanding of the road safety landscape.

Challenges In Enhancing Young Driver Road Safety

Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29, surpassing diseases, street violence, and armed conflicts. Shockingly, over 15% of fatalities resulting from road traffic accidents involve individuals within the 15-25 age group. Young lives are lost not only within vehicles but also as pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists. The primary risk factors haunting our youth include drunk or drug driving, reckless speeding, distractions from mobile devices, the absence of protective helmets, and neglecting seat-belt usage.

Most young people do not intentionally drive recklessly. Instead, their vulnerability stems from inexperience, immaturity, and lifestyle associated with their age. Encouragingly, between 2010 and 2019, numerous IRTAD (International Road Traffic and Accident Database) countries witnessed a decline in traffic fatalities among the 15 to 24 age group, with some nations achieving reductions of over 60 percent. This progress underscores the effectiveness of measures aimed at safeguarding this demographic.

  1. Given the complexity of road safety challenges and the varying stages of road safety evolution worldwide, how can nations collaborate to promote knowledge sharing and capacity building, and what innovative approaches do you propose to expedite progress towards the Vision Zero goal on a global scale?
  1. In the pursuit of curbing the alarming statistics surrounding road traffic fatalities and severe injuries among young drivers, could you provide an overview of legislative measures that have proven effective in your respective countries? Beyond legislation, what strategies, encompassing educational campaigns, and driver training programs, have demonstrated tangible outcomes in not only reducing these incidents but also fostering a culture of responsible and safe driving habits?

Background note on cycling


Transport plays a key role in economic growth on a global scale and needs to have a key part in sustainable development, too. Active modes of transport, such as cycling, are indispensable in achieving our climate goals. Cycling is an affordable mode of transport that provides access to education, jobs and community activities. It also improves people’s health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic changed people’s behavior and perception of the cycling, especially in urban areas. More and more cities are developing cycling infrastructure, giving more space to cyclists by creating dedicated lanes or more parking places for bikes. The investment in better cycling conditions is evident, with an increasing number of e-bikes or shared bicycles on the streets.

In the intricate web of global progress, cycling emerges as a universal force transcending geographical boundaries. Its narrative resonates universally, weaving together empowerment, prosperity, health, and sustainability. As we gather to discuss profound impact of cycling, we recognize its pivotal role in fostering inclusive and holistic development worldwide.

Opportunities to use cycling for transport services depending on climate and geographical conditions

Cycling, often celebrated as an uncomplicated mode of transportation, has evolved into a potent catalyst for driving development worldwide. Cycling connects diverse goals and aspirations across a multitude of cultures, from bustling urban hubs to remote rural landscapes.

Cycling plays an important role in promoting sustainable mobility in and around cities as well as in rural areas. Its transformative power lies in its ability to break the chains of poverty and boost economic development.

As the world continues to grapple with the current transportation challenges, the role of cycling as a viable mode of transport is gaining significant attention. The intersection of climatic and geographical conditions plays a crucial role in determining the feasibility and opportunities for incorporating cycling into transport services. Climate conditions can have a significant impact on the use of cycling if not adequately dealt with. Nevertheless, development of e-bikes can help to overcome some of the challenges, such as hilly terrain or increasing summer temperatures.

Sustainable urban logistics

The cycling industry, encompassing manufacturing, services, and tourism, demonstrates a symbiotic relationship between economic growth and sustainability. Cycling addresses transportation challenges and generates employment opportunities. Cycling generates the most jobs per unit of revenue in comparison with other modes of transport, fostering sustainable economic growth.

Cycling aligns with responsible consumption and production, delivering sustainability across economies. In urban areas, it supports efficient goods delivery. The rise of cycle tourism offers sustainable travel options.

Moreover, the global cycling movement, supported by civil society organizations, drives sustainable development partnerships. These collaborations promote cycling technologies and policies, driven by data and aiming for environmental soundness.

Cycling and micromobility solutions are gaining prominence as key components of sustainable urban logistics, offering numerous benefits such as reduced congestion, lower emissions, improved air quality, and healthier lifestyles. Cycling can play a role in last-mile delivery for smaller packages and goods, especially in densely populated urban areas. Electric cargo bikes are being increasingly used by logistics companies for efficient and emission-free deliveries.

1) Given the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change, how can governments leverage cycling as a resilient transportation alternative, and what adaptations are necessary to make cycling more adaptable and robust in the face of changing climate conditions? 

2) What strategies or initiatives do you believe are essential to create safer conditions for cyclists and micromobility users in urban environment?  How to better integrate cycling and micromobility into the existing transport system?