Road Safety and the United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development




On 25 September a United Nation’s (UN) Summit in New York adopted a new agenda, the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. They build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire in 2015. Unlike the MDGs, which ignored the subject entirely, road safety is included in the global goals. This briefing note outlines the road safety related content of the global goals as set out in the Summit declaration ‘Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development1 (New Agenda). It also assesses the relevance of the new goals for vehicle safety and Global NCAP’s recent report ‘Democratising Car Safety: Road Map for Safer Cars 2020’.


General Description of the Global Goals


The New Agenda establishes a set of global goals and targets for “people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership”. There are 17 goals and 169 targets, which focus on various global issues such as poverty and environmental issues. The goals are “universally applicable” and the targets are defined as “aspirational and global” (see paragraph 51). They are to be implemented from January 1st 2016 over the next fifteen years until 2030 (see paragraph 22).


Road Safety and the Global Goals


The new Agenda, inter alia, commits to the adoption of policies promoting sustainable transport systems (see paragraph 28). Road safety is specifically included in two goals for health and cities. The relevant text is as follows:


GOAL 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents


GOAL 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.


The new fatality/injury reduction target is significantly stronger than the existing goal of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. This aims just “to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities” worldwide by 20202.


Measured against a 2010 baseline (provided by the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013) the UN target will require improvements in rates of fatalities per 100,000 population as follows3:


– High Income Countries: from 8.7 per deaths per 100,000 population in 2010 to 4 by 2020
– Middle Income Countries: from 20.1 per deaths per 100,000 population in 2010 to 7 by 2020
– Low Income Countries: from 18.3 per deaths per 100,000 population in 2010 to 12 by 2020


The New Agenda represents the UN’s strongest ever mandate for action to promote road safety. The new and highly ambitious target for reductions in both road crash fatalities and injuries poses a significant challenge to all Member States to reinvigorate their national road safety plans.


Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development


In recognition of its scale and ambition the New Agenda calls for a “revitalized global partnership” bringing together governments, the private sector, civil society and the UN system. The document recognizes that, “successful implementation will also depend on the resources, knowledge and ingenuity of civil society, business, the scientific community, academia, research institutions, philanthropists and foundations, parliaments, local authorities, volunteers and other stakeholders” (see paragraph 70). This inclusive approach is specifically encouraged in a global goal focusing on implementation with a target to mobilize multi-stakeholder partnerships.


GOAL 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Multi-stakeholder partnerships

17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries

17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships


Follow up and Review


Implementation of the New Agenda will be subject to a follow up review process overseen by the UN’s High Level Political Forum (HLPF)4. Indicators are being developed to help with the measurement of progress and an annual progress report will be prepared by the UN Secretary General. The next HLPF will take place in 2019 and will review progress, emerging challenges and mobilize further actions to accelerate implementation. Clearly this HLPF review will enable an assessment of progress towards the new road fatality/injury target.


The Global Goals and Global NCAP’s Road Map for Safer Cars 2020


To achieve the UN’s ambitious new fatality reduction target requires a significant response from all UN member states to reinvigorate their road injury prevention policies and plans. The Global Plan5 for the UN Decade already includes a vehicle pillar with suggested actions regarding crash test standards, participation in the UN’s World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations, and the encouragement of New Car Assessment Programmes in all world regions. These actions are amplified in Global NCAP’s recent report Democratising Car Safety6 which sets out a possible implementation timescale for the most important UN vehicle safety regulations for crashworthiness and avoidance as follows:


Road Map for Safer Cars 2020 All New Models Produced or Imported All Vehicles Produced or Imported
Stage 1 – UN Regulations* for:
Frontal Impact (No.94)
Side Impact (No.95)
Seat Belt & Anchorages (No.16 & 14)
2018 2020
Stage 2 – UN Regulations* for:
Electronic Stability Control No.140 (GTR.8)
Pedestrian Protection No.127 (GTR.9)
2018 2020

*or equivalent national performance requirements, with effective conformity of production


The UN’s adoption of a new fatality reduction target adds urgency to the existing proposals set out both in the Global Plan and our Road Map Report. As the full benefits of improved vehicle safety take time to feed through the vehicle fleet so the need for faster action is imperative and the implementation timetable proposed by Global NCAP is more relevant than ever before.


The Global Goals also provide a clear focus for those companies who wish to orientate their corporate social responsibility to the priorities of the international community. In the framework of goals 3,11 and 17 there is considerable scope for the private sector to contribute towards the achievement of the UN’s ambitious target to cut road deaths and injuries by 50% by 2020. It is to be hoped, therefore, that car manufacturers will positively embrace the new road safety goals and target and consider the voluntary application of the UN’s basic crash test standards as already recommended by Global NCAP in our Road Map report.


In conclusion Global NCAP warmly welcomes the proposed inclusion of road safety in the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the new casualty reduction target. We also endorse the partnership approach to implementation of the goals and are fully committed to working with both our existing and new partners in support of the ambition to achieve a world eventually free from road traffic fatalities. Finally we strongly encourage the unanimous adoption by all Member States of the Global Goals at the forthcoming UN Summit on Sustainable Development in New York on 25-27 September.


For more information about the Global Goals see:


#GlobalGoals and


1 Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development – Text for adoption
2 UN General Assembly Resolution 64/255 2nd March 2010
3 See: Results Framework on Sustainable Transport (2014) developed by the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport with the World Health Organization, FIA Foundation, International Road Assessment Programme and others.
4 The HLPF is the main UN platform on sustainable development providing political leadership and review of implementation of commitments it meets every
four years at the level of Heads of State and Governments under the auspices UN Economic and Social Council.
5 See
6 see: