A Review of International Agreements, Conventions and Other Instruments to Achieve Sustainable Mobility

The international community recognizes that sustainability is essential to the future mobility the world wants and needs. The momentum of global action toward sustainable mobility has been building in recent years, including efforts aimed at strengthening the implementation of international legally binding instruments, and aimed at developing action plans and policy recommendations that address challenges in the transport sector. The Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative is working to bring coherence and scale to these efforts.

This paper presents a stocktaking of existing international instruments—whether legally binding or nonbinding and involving one or multiple modes of transport—and maps them vis-à-vis the four global goals. It also identifies potential gaps, and suggests effective approaches moving forward. The stocktaking seeks to inform the Global Roadmap of Action, which is a menu of actions, principles, and best practices to enable the international community and its countries to achieve sustainable mobility. This paper is meant to inform the discussion about the paths that can help countries achieve sustainable mobility, rather than an exhaustive examination of all existing instruments.

Existing instruments addressing sustainable mobility can be divided into different categories, including: binding legal agreements and international conventions, which provide standards and regulatory frameworks; and nonbinding resolutions, statements, declarations, guidelines, and action plans, which provide policy recommendations based on international knowledge and best practices. All types of instruments, in distinct ways, play an important role in assisting countries in the path towards sustainable mobility.

Over 90 instruments have been identified and mapped across the four global goals, roughly half of which are legally binding. These binding and nonbinding instruments can be grouped by topic, for example, instruments that focus on border crossing facilitation and on international maritime and multimodal transport law (efficiency), traffic rules or technical standards for vehicle safety (safety), greenhouse gas emissions (green mobility), accessibility to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups (universal access), among many others.