14 Apr 2020

HLP Experts & Advisors meeting

On Tuesday 14 April, more than 60 High Level Panel for Road Safety (HLP) Experts and Advisors met via videoconference to discuss the work programme for the next two years, following the FIA HLP Members meeting that was held in Stockholm on 18 February 2020.

The virtual meeting was led by FIA President and Chairman of the HLP, Jean Todt, and moderated by HLP Secretary, Miquel Nadal. In his introductory remarks, Jean Todt recalled the key objectives of the reunion: to try to anticipate the effects of COVID-19 on mobility and road safety while shaping the roadmap for HLP’s activities for the next two years.

The session started with a discussion on the impact of the current global health crisis. Experts expressed concerns about its economic consequences, especially on public transport systems in many low- and middle-income countries, and about the societal changes that it might entail, in particular regarding protection of individual freedom vs pandemic-control. Some members strongly insisted on the need to preserve the right to privacy in that context.

However, the COVID-19 crisis was also seen as an opportunity to embed some very welcomed changes in the system (reduced speeds, increased use of micro mobility modes, etc.) and to fundamentally transform the way we address road safety, switching from an intervention-based approach to one that aims to build a mobility system in which safety is the core value. In that respect, alliances with other social and health causes would need to be strengthened.

From an advocacy perspective, the Experts and Advisors stressed the need to pay more attention to health outcomes, maybe shifting the focus from road fatalities to road injuries as they have a huge impact on health systems and budgets. Some members also felt that in a post COVID-19 world, governments might have more consideration for crisis prevention than they have had in the past, where recovery measures had usually been prioritised.

The discussion then focused on the HLP work programme for 2020-2021. As per the Stockholm meeting, priority will be given to three main areas: the development of the notion of road safety as a core value, the potential inclusion of road safety as a human rights issue and the financing of road safety:

• Road safety as a core value: there are substantial differences in the safety culture between transportation modes. While air, rail, and marine modes have put safety as a top priority, road transport has been focused on freedom of movement. Thus, it is recommended that the HLP works to explore ways to improve the governance of road safety so that safety becomes the core value of the road mobility system.

• Road safety as a human rights issue: during the meeting, two main actions were suggested. The first one was to identify how road safety could feature as a topic in the various Human Rights Mechanisms of the United Nations (Human Rights Council; Treaty bodies; Universal Periodic Review) and the second was to develop a joint FIA/OHCHR campaign dedicated to this issue. Both initiatives will be further explored in the coming months.

• Funding of road safety activities: two perspectives were presented to Advisors. The first one was to try to enhance the road safety appeal to institutional donors in order to increase their contributions to existing global funding mechanisms, using the HLP as a platform to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), Bilaterals and Global Fund Managers and to form a strong united front. The ongoing work to update the 2009 MDBs Joint Statement on Road Safety should be a first step in that direction. The second perspective evoked was the will to investigate new potential innovative instruments to fund road safety, starting with reviewing the opportunities offered by social impact bonds. The discussions highlighted the need to explicitly include road safety in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria that private investors incorporate in their decisions.