The United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport announced the publication of the first ever Global Sustainable Transport Outlook Report, “Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development
Sustainable Transport for a Sustainable Future
A greener transport system is crucial for fighting climate change, driving inclusive growth and ensuring our long-term prosperity. A brand new UN report lays a solid foundation for making sustainable transport a reality, but achieving that goal will take determination and innovation. Transport and logistics providers will play a key role.
In today’s world, sustainability is more vital than ever before – not only if you hope to future-proof your business, but also if we wish to collectively future-proof our planet. Indeed, humanity faces profound challenges and ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option. Last year’s Paris Climate Agreement provides a shimmer of hope.
Sustainable transport is one of the cornerstones of a sustainable future. Transport and logistics are key drivers of economic growth and prosperity as well as major sources of carbon emissions, which means the sector bears a special responsibility to the world. We need to innovate, integrate new technologies, and share our knowledge with others.
A forward-looking foundation
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when business and policymakers work together, we can find innovative and lasting solutions much more quickly. And right now there is an urgent need for collective action to face the challenges of climate change. A holistic approach that includes a broad spectrum of stakeholders is absolutely paramount. That is precisely why United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formed the High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport.
This Advisory Group is composed of leaders from the private and public sectors representing developed and developing countries and a wide range of modes and sectors. As CEO of the world’s leading logistics company, it is both a great honor and an important opportunity to be a part of this group. It was important to me to bring our many years of experience in pioneering sustainable transportation and logistics expertise to the table. Our Advisory Group agrees that there is a strong economic case for sustainable transport that includes many clear social benefits. We have worked together over the past two years to explore how to effectively transform the transport system.
The outcome of our effort was just released as the first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Outlook Report entitled Mobilizing Sustainable Transport for Development. We conclude that “sustainable transport is a driver of sustainability” and a means for prosperity on our planet, stressing that “all actors […] must make a genuine commitment to transforming the transport system.” The Advisory Group also offers ten recommendations intended to foster sustainable transport – from ensuring that all transport planning, policy, and investment decisions incorporate sustainable development dimensions to calling on governments to promote sustainable transport technologies through outcome-oriented investment and policies that encourage private sector investment.
A sustainable business model
I believe logistics providers have both an opportunity and a duty to act upon these recommendations. Our unique position along the supply chain gives us the opportunity to be facilitators of change. We are deeply embedded in value creation across all sectors and industries, connecting people, businesses and economies across the globe. Through innovation and scaling of good solutions, we can make a direct contribution, not to mention set an example for others. After all, if we can deliver a parcel without any emissions for the city the recipients live in, why can’t public transport be carbon-free, too.
At Deutsche Post DHL Group, sustainability has been a central part of our business and an integral part of our corporate strategy for years. We have already made great strides in reducing our own carbon footprint, helping our customers make their supply chains greener, and developing innovative technologies.
In 2008, we were the first logistics company to set ourselves an ambitious climate protection target: to improve our carbon efficiency by 30% over the 2007 baseline by the year 2020. It’s part of our GoGreen program, and we’re well on our way to achieving that goal, having reached a 25% increase by the year 2015.
Using the know-how gained from making our own operations greener, we have developed DHL GoGreen Solutions to help our customers achieve their own sustainability targets. This modular system of optimized logistics solutions can identify savings potential and make supply chains more efficient by quantifying and optimizing their carbon footprint, reducing waste, offsetting unavoidable emissions, and working with our customers towards a circular economy.
In order to offer innovative solutions to our customers, we continue to rethink our own operations and supply chains. Let me highlight an example: The “StreetScooter” is an electric vehicle we designed specifically for the stop-and-go environment of urban mail and parcel delivery operations after an extensive look into all available low-emission drive technologies and vehicles. It is now a central element of our journey towards clean and livable cities. I believe this innovative technology will set the standard for e-mobility in city logistics for some time to come, which is why we are rolling StreetScooters off the assembly line in record numbers, and in 2017 we plan to produce some 10,000 units. This is a good example for the two crucial developments for sustainable transport: move from lighthouse projects to roll-out and innovate!
Another efficiency-boosting technology we are rolling out is the Teardrop trailer – an aerodynamic truck trailer that reduces air resistance and cuts fuel consumption by up to 6%-10% compared to standard trailers. We have introduced some 1,900 units into our operations so far. We also support the development of alternative aviation fuels, such as biofuels, which currently lack international standards and do not meet our own strict sustainability criteria. That’s why we joined the Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany (aireg) – a group of likeminded companies and organizations that aims to see biofuels make up 10% of the jet fuel consumed domestically by 2025.
Although transforming the logistics industry will be no easy task, there is a strong economic case – not to mention compelling social benefits – to motivate us to do just that. Sustainability is a crucial part of our business model, and I believe the UN’s first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Outlook Report gives us a solid foundation on which to build a world where sustainable transport drives sustainable development and, in turn, safeguards a sustainable future.