The new normal and building back better: EASST partners meet online to discuss COVID-19, road safety, and future activities in the region

News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

EASST usually hosts a meeting once a year in which all EASST partners have the opportunity to get together, share experiences, discuss strategy, and learn from each other. It is a time when partners renew their ties, share skills and best practice, discuss common obstacles and learn how to improve their results.

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted our model and taken our meetings online, starting last month with our first online All-EASST Partners meeting.

Having last met in Stockholm in February as part of the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, the meeting was an opportunity to catch up and reflect upon how the unprecedented global events that followed have affected the work of EASST partners and how the pandemic has impacted road safety in our countries of operation.

Without question, this year has been challenging but we have learned to adapt to the ‘new normal’. New opportunities are emerging and we are seeing a renewed commitment to creating change for the better.

During our meeting we discussed issues related to walking and cycling, air quality, and safe school zones and the safe return to school including how they interlink and how we can build on these areas in our future work.

For example, we discussed how in Georgia the pandemic has propelled the need for safe cycling infrastructure to the top of the political agenda, and how Partnership for Road Safety has been working with Tbilisi City Hall to transform the city’s streets for safe, socially-distanced travel.

In Armenia and Moldova, our partners have both been involved in government-level working groups to develop their countries’ National Road Safety Action Plans for the coming years. While, in other countries, our partners have taken road safety education online and have continued to work with schools and local authorities to advocate safer routes to school and speed management.

Meeting online was a new experience for our network, and it has opened a new door for us.  It has reinforced the benefit of regular meetings and sharing experience.  Our partners found the discussions invaluable and we are already scheduling a range of follow up capacity building meetings to maximise these new opportunities.