POLIS co-signs SLOCAT-led manifesto to transform freight transport

As the world faces interconnected challenges, transforming freight transport and logistics has emerged as a critical step to ensure competitive, equitable, and resilient economies and societies.

The recently launched Manifesto for intermodal, low-carbon, efficient and resilient freight transport and logistics — co-initiated by a multi-stakeholder partnership featuring SLOCAT and the Kühne Foundation, together with CONCITO, IDDRI, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the Smart Freight CentreUIC International Union of Railways and the World Resources Institute — outlines a visionary roadmap for this transformation, emphasising the urgent need to keep global warming below 1.5ºC while enhancing socio-economic development.

The manifesto was unveiled on 21 May 2024 during the first United Nations Global Supply Chain Forum, held from 21 to 24 May 2024 in Bridgetown, Barbados. Organised by the United Nations Trade and Development and the Government of Barbados, this forum provides a significant platform to present the manifesto’s goals and call for global action. Active outreach and advocacy actions will continue beyond this event, offering opportunities for organizations to sign on and support the manifesto in the coming months.

The challenges

Freight transport and logistics are essential to connecting goods, markets, and consumers, driving socio-economic development globally. However, the current systems face numerous challenges:

  • Vulnerabilities exposed: Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions, and extreme climate events, have highlighted the increased vulnerabilities of freight systems and their workforce;
  • Climate and sustainability impacts: The traditional methods of transporting goods contribute significantly to climate change, air pollution, and fossil fuel consumption. In 2022, the transport sector accounted for 20.7% of global CO2 emissions, with freight transport contributing 42% of these emissions;
  • Growing demand: With freight transport demand expected to more than double by 2050, the negative impacts will continue to rise unless a paradigm shift occurs.

The vision

The manifesto calls for a comprehensive transformation of freight transport and logistics through several key strategies:

  1. Intermodal systems: Developing systems that efficiently and resiliently combine low-carbon services from the first to the last mile, whether local or intercontinental;
  2. Zero-emission fuels and renewable energy: Transitioning to zero-emission fuels and renewable energy sources to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of freight transport;
  3. Optimised logistics systems: Enhancing logistics systems to improve efficiency and reduce waste, fostering sustainable value chains;
  4. Local and circular economies: Promoting local and circular value chains to enhance economic resilience and sustainability;
  5. Resilience: Ensuring that freight transport systems are resilient to disruptions, which is crucial for maintaining connectivity and supporting rapid recovery in times of disaster.

To achieve these goals, several critical enablers must be prioritised:

  • Ambitious, science-based targets: Implementing regulations, policies, and standards based on scientific evidence to drive the transformation;
  • Economics, finance, and investments: Mobilising financial resources and investments to support sustainable freight transport initiatives;
  • Integrated planning and operations: Encouraging collaboration and integration across different sectors and stakeholders to optimize planning and operations;
  • Transparent tracking and evaluation: Establishing mandatory, standardised tracking, reporting, and evaluation mechanisms to monitor progress and ensure accountability;
  • Data, research, and unnovation: Investing in research, technology, and capacity building to drive innovation and continuous improvement in freight transport systems.

Taking bold actions

The manifesto underscores the importance of global frameworks and processes that prioritise freight transport and logistics within the broader context of transport, development, climate, energy, and resilience. Governments and businesses are called upon to take bold action and support the manifesto by planning and financing intermodal, low-carbon, efficient, and resilient freight transport systems.

By supporting this manifesto as a signatory, POLIS takes a crucial step towards creating a sustainable and resilient future for global supply chains. Together, we can drive meaningful change and ensure a more sustainable and efficient freight transport system for generations to come.

Read the manifesto

To learn more about how you can support this initiative, visit SLOCAT's Transforming Freight Transport.