26 May

Pre-Summit Research Day

Transport Innovation for Sustainable Development

The International Transport Forum (ITF), together with the European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI), the US Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS), are pleased to announce a Research Day on “Transport Innovation for Sustainable Development”. This Research Day will be held in Leipzig, Germany on Tuesday, 26 May, 2020, in conjunction with the International Transport Forum’s 2020 Annual Summit (27- 29 May 2020).

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27 May

Transport Innovation Talks: Inspiration from the Cutting Edge of 21st Century Mobility

Much of today’s innovation in the mobility sector is taking place in cities. This session will look at technological advances and innovation more generally in cities and explore how urban areas showcase innovations that are shaking up the transport sector. Mobility is a hotbed of opportunity for entrepreneurs.  With rapid technological developments and unprecedented levels of investment, startups are playing an ever-more important role in shaping transport.

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ITF in Focus: Decarbonising Transport

This session will present the ITF’s new, interactive online Catalogue of Measures for Decarbonising Transport and provide an update on the work of the Decarbonising Transport initiative. With the launch of the Catalogue of Measures, the DT initiative moves into its next phase, during which the ITF will establish “common interest groups” as platforms for stakeholders to explore and discuss specific transport CO2 reduction solutions and their implementation. The session will provide an overview of the outputs of the DT initiative to date, showcase decarbonisation measures that countries are currently taking or committing to, and discuss how ITF can help them to turn their commitments into action.

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Infrastructure for the New Mobility Landscape

Emerging transport innovations, particularly new forms of mobility enabled by automation, asset sharing, digital connectivity and electrification technologies, will have major implications for transport infrastructure. It is essential for a successful integration of these innovations in the transport system to anticipate the infrastructure requirements in ways that address a range of aspects: safety and reliability, environmental and financial sustainability, accessibility and the associated equity issues.

This session will focus on electrification as the most urgent and also advanced dimension. It looks at the recharging (for battery electric vehicles) and refuelling infrastructure (for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles) needed to make the large-scale electrification of transport vehicles a reality, both in cities and for longer distances. In this context, it will also consider the potential of electro-fuels to compete with, or be complements to, electricity and hydrogen for battery electric and fuel cell-electric vehicles.

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Innovation for Gender Equality: User’s Perspective

This panel will explore gender differences in transport use, and how automation, electrification and new mobility services might help resolve existing inequalities. Most mobility systems do not take into account gender differences in travel behaviour, causing many women to be underserved. Women more than men tend to prefer flexible modes that facilitate trip chaining and travel with children and other dependents. This is not often accommodated for in the design of transport infrastructure and vehicles. The threat of sexual harassment and other forms of violence is also deterring girls and women around the world from choosing public transport, taxis, shared mobility, or cycling and walking. De facto, this limits their access to schools, jobs and health services. A digital gender gap further limits women’s access to innovative solutions, including smartphone-based mobility services: 327 million fewer women than men have a smartphone and internet access, according to a 2018 worldwide study. Providing women with better mobile connectivity would also facilitate their use of smartphone-based transport innovations and significantly improve their access to essential services.

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Innovation in Transport: New Horizons for the Economy and Society

The Opening Plenary will set the scene for the Summit debates on how innovations can help transport to become more sustainable. New technologies and services are transforming transport at an unprecedented pace. They are quickly removing barriers to the movement of people and goods, providing new opportunities and changing the way we live.

Innovation is also offering new ways of meeting transport-related global challenges, notably social inclusion, road safety and the sector’s significant impact on climate. Innovation in transport is crucial to meet a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Golas (SDGs) and Targets of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to achieve sustainability across its various dimensions, transport will have to change radically, and innovations across all dimensions will have to be evaluated for their potential to contribute to positive change.

Ministers, CEOs, Heads of International Organisations, and representatives of civil society will use the Opening Plenary to share their views on how to steer transport innovations so they produce outcomes that are in line with the sustainability agenda of the international community. The discussion will be preceded by opening remarks from the minister of the Republic of Ireland  (Presidency 2020), the Minister of Germany for the host country, and the ITF Secretary-General.

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Sustainable Aviation: how can Innovation help get there?

This panel session will explore ways to reduce the climate impact of aviation through innovation.  The development of innovative, indeed disruptive, technologies and fuels is necessary to curtail carbon emissions of the aviation sector to follow through on the mitigation commitments made by countries.

Air travel benefits citizens and the economy by offering rapid connections over large distances. Yet the rapid growth of demand for air travel poses significant climate challenges. The increase in passenger numbers has consistently outweighed the fuel efficiency improvements achieved by the industry over the past three decades. Currently, air transport contributes 13% of all transport CO2 emissions, or about 2.5% of all global CO2 emissions. ITF projections see the emissions from air transport increasing by about 30% over the coming thirty years.  

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28 May

Making Sense of Transport in the Algorithmic Age

Automated decision-making is taking a hold in areas from health care and housing to media and mobility. This session will investigate how to ensure that mobility driven by algorithmic code supports societal objectives. More and more of our daily lives is being influenced by automated decision-making systems based on algorithms and data science. These systems run on code, produce prodigious amounts of data and run largely in the background – both of our consciousness and of regulatory oversight. In transport, algorithms are a core feature for services from public transport scheduling to routing apps, from bicycle sharing to self-driving technology, and from parcel delivery to the dispatching of ride services. Algorithmic decision-making has the potential to produce significant gains in efficiency, sustainability and equity – but, poorly framed, it could also erode all three.

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Transformative Governance: how can Governments better foster Innovation?

Innovation is rapidly changing the urban transport environment. New app-based mobility services are providing more transport options to more people and improving connectivity. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) models may embed and expand these changes in travel habits. Automated vehicles have the potential to transform the transport landscape, but also present major challenges. 

Inflexible and outdated regulation frequently impedes the adoption of innovative transport models, Governments are often slow to perceive the potential benefits to citizens and the economy from innovative transport offerings and frequently come under pressure to protect incumbents from disruption.  At the same time, new service offerings create new regulatory challenges, particularly those of understanding the nature and extent of the risks posed by new technologies and new business models and what policy tools can best address them. Implications for urban planning, congestion, pollution, road safety and consumer protection must be identified and addressed.

Effective policy and regulatory responses can maximise the benefits of transport innovation, ensure they are widely shared and address key risks and harms.  The session will reflect on governments’ policy and regulatory responses to new mobility services and highlight good practices and key shortcomings. It will explore the benefits of adopting a principles-based approach and recognising the need for good governance practices to ensure that policy is based on a sound understanding of the problems being addressed and the associated market dynamics.  Key principles to be considered include accepting disruption, treating entrants and incumbents equally, engaging effectively with innovators, and ensuring regulatory and other restrictions respond only to clearly identified and understood market failures and equity issues.

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Is the Workforce ready for the Future of Mobility?

This panel will explore to what extent the labour market can provide a workforce preparing for shifts to automated, electrified and shared mobility. Many occupations, including the transport sector, will feel the unfolding transformation of transport - from bus drivers and traffic technicians, to insurance appraisers. Automation is predicted to replace between 90% and 98% of jobs in these three professions alone. Some occupations will become obsolete, but many new fields will open up as new technologies and services spring up - for instance, in designing seamless mobility systems that will connect new mobility services to existing modes. Ensuring a smooth transition will likely require retraining programmes and financial support for those adapting to a 21st century transport world.

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Modern Travel and the Digital Divide: Bridging the Gap

This session will investigate how the introduction of digital technologies in the transport sector, can help to support overarching societal objectives. It will focus, specifically, on how digital technologies can help tackle social exclusion.

Globally, digital technologies have improved access to mobility services, but some people have been left behind. Several factors are behind the digital divide: Significant parts of the population have no internet access at home, nor possess a mobile device. Research has also shown that some features of ride-hailing apps can discriminate against some users. Not least, most of the new services require a credit card or a bank account, putting them out of reach for many lower-income households, specifically in poorer countries. Additionally, digital monitoring has the potential to be utilized to exclude access to certain transport services for specific users.

At the same time, creative mobility solutions are emerging in less-developed parts of the world. Many have great potential to improve access to mobility for those less digitally connected and financially wealthy. These solutions deserve the attention of transport policy makers everywhere aiming to broaden accessibility in pursuit of an equitable society.

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Innovative Freight Delivery

Freight transport is estimated to triple in the next decades. This will put pressure on existing infrastructure, and lead to more congestion and emissions. Intermodal freight solutions have long been seen as a way to make logistics more efficient and cut freight CO2. However, the share of freight using alternate, integrated modes remains small and is hindered by the fragmentation of markets and institutions, low flexibility and a lack of reliability. Innovation, mainly digitalisation, can help overcome these shortcomings. Electronic seals, non-intrusive goods inspections, data sharing platforms and other innovations reduce bureaucracy, increase reliability, decrease waiting times and facilitate collaboration. Additionally, they make asset sharing and the standardisation of procedures easier. Policies and institutions are decisive for the successful implementation of innovations that can give intermodal freight transport a boost.

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29 May

ITF in Focus Session: Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies

This session will present ITF’s work to date within the “Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies” (DTEE) project. Enabling emerging economies to continue lifting people out of poverty, whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the biggest challenges for climate change mitigation. The DTEE project aims to help governments of emerging nations to identify ways to reduce their transport CO2 emissions and meet their climate goals. The session will give representatives of the project’s focus countries; Argentina, Azerbaijan, India and Morocco, the opportunity to present their challenges and opportunities regarding transport sector decarbonisation, to discuss options and to learn from each other. Representatives from Multilateral Development Banks will provide an overview of their support for transport CO2`reduction measures in emerging economies, and ITF will brief on upcoming project activities.

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Looking towards the 2021 Summit on “Transport for Inclusive Societies”


This session will focus on possible themes for the 2021 Summit “Transport for Inclusive Societies” which will explore the societal impacts of innovation in transport and mobility and the governance framework that enable more sustainable and inclusive transport.

The 2021 Summit, will build on the outcomes of the 2020 Summit on “Transport Innovation for Sustainable Development”, and will set the scene for the  2021-2023 Summit trilogy theme “Transport Innovation Serving Societies”.


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Public Transport in a World of New Mobility

Are traditional public transport and new mobility services incompatible and destined to compete? How can public transport services enhance their attractiveness over private cars and better serve communities that depend on buses, trams, metros? What will we define as public transport in the future?

This session will examine the role of public transport in a world of emerging new mobility solutions. Public transport can reduce the need for private car use and cut emissions while providing access to employment and essential services. Yet its role is being challenged by new services and business models that offer highly flexible, on-demand solutions. It is time to rethink the approach to public transport and new mobility and ask how together they could create a system more effective than the one in place today.

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