UNECE and Georgian Ministry of Economy host regional road safety discussions

Armenia, Georgia, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

How to improve road safety management, regulation and strategic development was on the agenda in Tbilisi, Georgia, at a regional meeting jointly hosted by the Ministry of Economy & Sustainable Development and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on the 11th -12th November. The event included participants from 11 countries and experts from the World Bank and UNDP, including EASST Director Emma MacLennan, Gela Kvashilava of the Partnership for Road Safety and Poghos Shahinyan of the National Road Safety Council of Armenia (both EASST partners).

The meeting was opened by Mr Akaki Saghirashvili, Deputy Minister for Economy and Sustainable Development in Georgia, who set out Georgia’s vision for improving road safety following a comprehensive review of road safety performance in Georgia prepared with assistance from the UNECE. Among their priorities will be improving data collection and managing speed, along with better coordination between key national stakeholders. Details of the Georgian Road Safety Performance Review were presented to the meeting by EASST partner Gela Kvashilava, who has been the Lead National Expert assisting the UNECE.

Other speakers included Mr Nenad Nikolic, who moderated the meeting, the Regional Advisor for the UNECE on Transport issues; Louisa Vinton, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia; Natalya Stankevich, Senior Transport Specialist in Europe for the World Bank; and experts from each participating member country. Poghos Shahinyan presented the report for the National Road Safety Council of Armenia, demonstrating progress but also some of the challenges they face. “What is missing is institutional memory,” he told the meeting. “Armenia needs stability to make further progress.”

EASST Director Emma MacLennan also presented to the meeting, underlining how the Safe System Approach to road safety provides the most effective strategic framework for managing road risk, citing examples of how this can work in practice. Perhaps the most important element is the need for cross-departmental coordination – working with all stakeholders including local communities.

The UNECE is one of five regional commissions of the UN working with 56 member countries from North America to Central Asia. Many of its standards and legal instruments, particularly in road safety, are used worldwide, with countries from outside the region playing a role in their normative work. These standards include important regulations on vehicle safety, road signs and signals, traffic rules, driver fatigue, the transport of dangerous goods, etc. The UNECE also manage the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund, which has had its first call for projects in 2018.

It was of great interest to participants, therefore, to hear of different tools facilitated by the UNECE that can be useful for road safety policy development in any country. These include SafeFITS, a road safety decision-making tool comprising intervention analysis, forecasting and benchmarking; the EU SafetyCube project, an innovative road safety decision support system and repository for road safety research – both presented by Katerina Folla of the National Technical University of Athens. Dejan Jovanov on behalf of the South East Europe Transport Observatory presented their benchmarking strategic tool for monitoring road safety strategies.

The meeting included lively discussions and was much appreciated by those attending. We hope there will be opportunities to continue these discussions and review progress at a future date.