Transport minister Sun Chanthol on November 22 addressed the first high-level consultative meeting in Asia, held to discuss opportunities and activities that could render transport in the region sustainable, resilient and inclusive.

The forum, organised by the International Transport Forum (ITF) in the Thai capital Bangkok, also aimed to re-imagine the future of the transport sector.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), UN Road Safety Fund, Asia Development Bank (ADB), Germany’s international development agency GIZ and the ASEAN Secretariat.

Participants focused mainly on sharing policies, good practices and effective measures to accelerate change in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting also discussed topics that were relevant to the region such as transport connectivity, inclusive transport, its environmental impact and digital modernisation.

According to the Ministry of Public Work and Transport, Chanthol highlighted the importance of envisioning the future of the sector while delivering a speech at the opening of the plenary session.

“Forethought enables our society to address the various challenges which could occur in the future,” he said.

“Interconnected transport and logistics sectors will become increasingly important for the socio-economic development of countries across Asia and the Pacific in the coming years. Transport infrastructure is an important driving factor for development and a positive driving factor of economic growth, as well as the tightening of the social environment.

The ITF, he noted, had predicted last year that demand for passenger and goods transport would increase significantly in the coming decades, especially in the region, a reflection of economic development and improved connectivity.

Chanthol said it has been projected that global passenger transport needs would triple by 2050.

He said there are several factors behind these positive trends, and requested that the meeting attendees do their best to offer possible solutions.

According to the minister, the outcomes of the discussions would be applied to the 2023 ITF summit, the 7th session of UN-ESCAP on global transport, and other global and regional events later this year and in 2023.

The ITF is made up of eight countries from across Asia, and is seeking to expand the scope of its work and presence in the region.