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Nov 11, 2009

Safety on the Roads: Joining Forces to Save Lives

Multilateral Development Banks say five million deaths, 50 million injuries could be avoided

Seven Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) today issued a joint statement outlining a broad package of measures that each would implement in order to reduce an anticipated and alarming rise in the number of road fatalities and casualties in developing countries.

The participating MDBs are the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank.

The MDBs said the joint initiatives are important steps in a growing program of work they will undertake as international development partners.

The measures to be carried out fall into four broad categories:
·          Strengthening road safety management capacity;
·          Implementing safety approaches in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of road infrastructure projects;
·          Improving safety performance measures; and
·          Mobilizing more and new resources for road safety.

“All MDB’s are committed to taking a leading role to address what is becoming one of the most significant public health development priorities of the early 21st century,” said Jamal Saghir, Director of Energy, Transport, and Water at the World Bank, speaking on behalf of the participating MDBs. “As development professionals, we will work together to bring this growing epidemic on the roads of low and middle-income countries under control over the coming decade.  We also have a longer-term vision of eliminating these unnecessary and unacceptable deaths and injuries.”

In their joint statement, the MDBs said they welcomed the upcoming First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety to be held in Moscow on 19 and 20 November, 2009, as it draws attention to a global issue of increasing importance to the organizations.  Improving road safety, they said, is a development priority in developing and emerging countries.  The MDBs call for scaled-up global, regional, and country responses to bring the growing numbers of road deaths and injuries toll under control.

Over the first 30 years of this century it is estimated that more cars will be produced in the world than during the first hundred years of motorization.  As a result, millions of road deaths and injuries must be anticipated, unless sustained measures are taken to prevent them.  Updated projections of global mortality and the burden of disease made by the World Health Organization indicate that road traffic injuries are set to be the fourth biggest cause of healthy life years lost in developing and emerging countries by 2030, and from 2015 onto 2030 they will be the biggest cause of healthy life years lost for children aged between 5 and 14, unless new measures are taken to prevent them.

Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) estimates indicate that reducing road fatalities and injuries in low and middle-income countries over the coming decade would save an estimated 5 million lives and avoid 50 million serious injuries, resulting in a huge social benefit.

In the face of this mounting crisis there has been a concerted global call for action to promote a systematic, multi-sectoral response.  There is also the recognition that shared initiatives can accelerate the transfer of road safety knowledge to developing and emerging countries and scale up their road safety investment.  

The MDB signatories to the joint statement say they have an important role to play in this process, given their engagement in the development programs of partner countries through policy dialogue, analytical and advisory services, and lending and guarantee products to the public and private sectors. In particular, increased provision of road infrastructure is essential to development success, but its sustainable safety for users must be assured.

The Joint Statement of the Multilateral Development Banks and media contact points are attached.

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