19 January 2011Two United Nations agencies have launched a regional initiative in eastern Africa to help promote the use of sustainable urban transport in the capital cities of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The project, launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), will support the efforts of national and local governments in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Kampala to develop and apply strategies for better public transport services, improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and travel demand measures, such as parking management or plans to reduce the need for motorized travel in metropolitan areas.Start-up meetings – attended by senior government officials, stakeholders from the public transit industry, representatives of development institutions and local universities – were held in Nairobi, Kampala and Addis Ababa.In his remarks at the Nairobi meeting, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos, welcomed the new initiative and emphasized that sustainable urban mobility is critical for successful cities.“Mobility is crucial, especially if we want to take advantage of the multiplier effects of cities,” he said, adding that the success of productive relationships in cities is immediately linked to mobility. “In addition to its importance as an urban service for moving people and goods, the transport infrastructure and service sector itself is a significant generator of wealth and employment.”Also speaking in Nairobi, an official from the UNEP-Division of Global Environment Facility Coordination, Perrke de Bakker, said that urban transport must also be included in any effort to tackle the global problem of rising carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, especially given the challenge of sustained motorization in fast growing cities of the global South.“Therefore, we have to support national and local governments in providing attractive low-carbon mobility solutions that represent alternatives to conventional car-based transport strategies,” Mr. de Bakker said.UN-HABITAT will implement the project, while the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) will provide the funds. The GEF unites 182 governments – in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector – to address global environmental issues through grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related the environment. UNEP serves as an implementing agency for the GEF.