On 15th May 2015 EASST organised and hosted a panel discussion on ‘Effective Local Stakeholder Partnerships to Improve Road Safety’ at the Annual Meeting of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Tbilisi, Georgia. At this year’s EBRD Annual Meeting, EASST was selected  as the only CSO organisation to run their own themed panel. Improving road safety represents a major challenge in the Caucasus region, where alarming casualty rates suggest the need for better awareness raising and capacity building of local stakeholders. In Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, high levels of road casualties are national challenges. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety, in Armenia the fatality rate per 100,000 people was 18.1, in Georgia 15.7 and in Azerbaijan 13.1, compared to averages of 7.2 in Italy and Slovenia, 6.4 in France and 3.7 in the UK.

EASST Panel ‘Effective Local Stakeholder Partnerships to Improve Road Safety’ at the EBRD Annual Meeting, Tbilisi, 15 May 2015

Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia have made a formal commitment to support the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety 2011-2020, with an aim of reducing road casualties by 50%. While significant progress has been made in improving the legislative base (e.g. seat belt regulation) and some road infrastructure, all three countries face major problems in dealing with road casualties that continue to be a critical health challenge.

Global best practice underlines the need for local stakeholder partnerships as the most effective way to reduce casualty rates. These partnerships require multi-agency collaboration, including local authorities, police, the media, education providers and – most importantly – local communities. These are the key stakeholder groups for effective action on road safety.

Dmitry Sambuk, EASST and Giorgi Gurgenidze, Head of Transport, Tbilisi City Hall

EASST Director for Development and Education, Dmitry Sambuk, moderated the panel discussion and among the panellists were: Mr Giorgi Gurgenidze, Head of Transport of the Tbilisi City Hall, Mr Dariusz Prasek, Director of Project Appraisal at  Environment and Sustainability Department of the EBRD and three EASST Partners – Mr Gela Kvashilava, Chairman of the Georgian Partnership for Road Safety, Mr Poghos Shahinyan, Executive Director of the Armenian National Road Safety Council NGO and Mr Vusal Rajabli, President of HAYAT NGO from Azerbaijan.

The panel was also attended by representatives of foreign missions to Georgia, the business sector and NGOs who all took an active part in the discussion.  The participants of the panel looked at the various questions of what is the role of local stakeholder partnerships in road safety and how could effective partnerships and cross-border sharing of best practices be implemented in the region to tackle the issue of road safety.

Dmitry Sambuk said: “The subject of road safety also has a strong cross-border element: involving sharing information on offenders, vehicle safety checking at borders, information about legal requirements for road users, need for unification of the road signage and marking and many more. And this is great that at our panel today we had road safety experts from all three countries of South Caucasus and they all are members of EASST Network!”