Safer roads, a global dev’t challenge

The Fund was established in 2018 with a vision to ‘to build a world where roads are safe for every road user, everywhere.’

This indigenous woman in Guatemala walks her bicycle on her way to work. | Photograph courtesy of UN Women


September 11, 2022

Every 24 seconds, someone is killed in traffic, making safety on the world’s roads a global development challenge for all societies, especially for the most vulnerable, a senior United Nations official said, ahead of the first ever High-Level General Assembly Meeting on Improving Road Safety.

Nneka Henry, who heads the UN Road Safety Fund Secretariat, noted that 500 children die in crashes every day, and that of the older population, women are 17 times more likely to be killed during a car crash than men, even when wearing seatbelts.

Challenge for all

Despite these statistics, road safety is not just a challenge for women or for young people.

It is “for each and every one of us who walk, ride, cycle or drive on our roads,” Henry told Diedra Sealey, a young diplomat in the President of the General Assembly’s HOPE Fellowship program.

The interview took place ahead of the recent High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Improving Road Safety, which was organized recently by the president of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, and the World Health Organization.

Coinciding with the meeting was the UN Road Safety Fund pledging conference. The Fund was established in 2018 with a vision to “to build a world where roads are safe for every road user, everywhere.”

It specially finances projects in low- and middle-income countries, where some 93 percent of road deaths and injuries take place.

“I am here in New York to remind all 193 member states of their commitment to the Fund’s mandate and success,” Henry said.

Those successes include the announcement that as of 1 July, all vehicles imported in East Africa need to be below the Euro 4/IV emission standard and no more than eight years old.

The Fund has been working with the Economic Community of West African States’ 15 members to harmonize vehicle standard resolutions.

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