Climate change hot topic at World Road Congress


The importance of adapting the road systems to climate change and raising awareness on road safety were among the key issues discussed on the penultimate day of the 26th World Road Congress Abu Dhabi 2019.

The importance of adapting the road systems to climate change and raising awareness on road safety were among the key issues discussed on the penultimate day of the 26th World Road Congress Abu Dhabi 2019.

Building on the success of the previous three days, Wednesday’s programme saw the World Road Association (PIARC) the thought-leaders, pioneers and experts gather at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) for another important day of talks.

Throughout the day, key players in the road and transport sectors shared their expertise on various topics that saw more than 16 sessions and workshops held during the day.

The progress of climate change adaption and mitigation actions in the transport sector after the Paris Climate agreement was one of the key sessions that took place during the day.

Delegates heard from Roberto Aguerrebere of the Mexican Institute of Transportation, who explained that it is vital that countries adapt to climate change sooner rather than later.

Aguerrebere identified the UK and Mexico as examples that are taking measures to address the issue and improve their road systems.

He said: “The UK’s Department of Transport has a strategy where all new cars and trucks must be zero-emission by 2040. England’s Road Agency is also taking a number of actions to safeguarding their strategic road network which will protect against flooding.

“Mexico has produced a guide on how to deal with emergencies on roads and bridges which is integral for any accidents caused by natural hazards. They are also taking steps to regulate the emissions and fuel efficiency from light and heavy vehicles that will help reduce air pollution.”

Aguerrebere also explained that engineers must pay attention to climate change risks when planning new road projects in the future.

“Adapting to climate change to increase the resilience of road networks and road assets is increasingly a first-level task for countries.

“When we build new roads and projects, climate change risks must be integrated into daily practice in terms of road planning, maintenance and operation,” stated Roberto.

The congress also focused on the importance of road safety with technical sessions taking place.
During the ‘Programmes and policies for road safety’ session, the panel discussed that road authorities must take pedestrians’ safety into consideration when building new road projects.

The experts revealed from a survey that showed 85 per cent of the roads worldwide where pedestrians are present and traffic flows at 40 km per hour or more have no formal footpaths.

In the ‘Design and operations of safer road infrastructure’ session, Mathias Warnhjelm of the Swedish Transport Administration explained that while countries continue to focus on road safety, more training is mandatory to avoid fatalities.

He suggested schools should be raising awareness of safety through regular classes while advertising and social media can help send the message across to people.

He said: “Educating people on road safety is important but that alone is not enough. Road users must know how to handle driving manoeuvres including sticking to the rules and regulations.”

Valeo Group vice-president Jean-Luc Di Paola-Galloni delivered an insightful presentation in one of the three keynote sessions delivered today. He identified transforming infrastructure as a potential solution in order to function a roads system that is adapted to smart mobility.

Jean-Luc, who predicted a bright future for the way we will travel in the coming years, said: “Around 35 per cent of new cars worldwide will be automated by 2025 and by that time, there could be nearly 600 million connected vehicles on the roads. It shows technology is going to play an integral role and this will change the experience of travelling.

“However, it will need companies to work together to transform the infrastructure for smart mobility and we have to rethink the design of the systems as well as parking.”

Acciona's CEO (Middle East) Jesus Sancho later took to the stage to share his views on ‘Enabling Roads’ and suggested collaboration is essential for building and developing a sustainable infrastructure.

He said: “We don’t pay too much attention to how the roads have been built as it’s part of our everyday life like consuming water and electricity.

“With the industry changing, companies need to be proactive in integrating sustainability to their plans going forward since they will have a positive impact on the development and the overall results of projects.”

The attendees also heard from Andre Broto, Strategy Director of Vinci Autoroutes. He spoke on the need of investment and working with public authorities to deliver a global performance in transport systems.

The final day of the 26th World Road Congress Abu Dhabi 2019 will feature a series of sessions on various topics including infrastructure security and long distance road freight transport.

The delegates will then gather for the final time in the closing ceremony to reflect back on the success of the Congress and what steps to take during the next four years.

The ceremony will also feature the official handover to the delegation from Czech Republic, which will host the 27th World Road Congress in Prague in 2023.-TradeArabia News Service