Now more than ever, the region’s development is reliant on its transport system. Whether to carry manufactured and agricultural products to international markets, food to rural and urban communities, workers to their jobs, the young to schools or the sick to hospitals, transport is essential. While development patterns across the region vary, countries that have been able to improve transport capacities and efficiency have been the most successful in achieving sustainable development.

By supporting the development of an intermodal regional network, incorporating the Asian Highway network, the Trans-Asian Railway network and the network of Dry Ports, ESCAP works to strengthen connectivity, optimize the use of existing infrastructure and increase the level of integration between the different transport modes.

While infrastructure development is a prerequisite for achieving regional connectivity, tackling non-physical barriers to cross-border and transit transport is also essential. To this end, ESCAP promotes the unhindered and safe movement of vehicles, goods and people across borders and through countries of the region through the establishment of regional facilitation frameworks, assistance in formulating and implementing facilitation agreements, development of models and standards, provision of facilitation tools and the harmonization of documentation and procedures. ESCAP also assists countries in developing transport logistics policies and in enhancing the quality of transport through improving the skills of logistics service providers and transport professionals.

The extensive enabling role of transport in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is materialized with integrating economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development into transport connectivity agenda in a balanced manner which can be achieved through an integrated intermodal transport and logistics system. The integrated intermodal transport and logistics system is a transport system that optimizes the needs of transporting goods and passengers; minimizes consumption of energy, land and other resources; generates low emissions of greenhouse gases, ozone depleting substances and other pollutants; and minimizes the adverse social impacts arising from transport operations. In addition to regional transport infrastructure development and transport facilitation efforts, to achieve SDGs 1, 2, 3 and 11, ESCAP promotes transport policies to achieve safe, affordable, and accessible passenger and freight transport systems for both urban and rural communities. ESCAP supports member States in strengthening their capacities to move towards more sustainable and inclusive transport, with focus on the road safety, urban mobility, better rural connectivity and intelligent transport systems for all, including the poor and the vulnerable communities. Whilst transport remains a main driver of economic growth, it is also a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution in the region. ESCAP supports member States in their efforts to achieve SDGs 11 and 13 based on the environmental and social comparative advantages of various transport modes.