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Twenty years of the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme

Twenty years of the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme

Multilateral cooperation on fostering healthy and sustainable transport in the WHO European Region has just passed a major milestone: 20 years ago WHO/Europe, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Member States from across the pan-European region* established the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP).

The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted an event in France to commemorate the occasion. WHO/Europe participated in the event and provided insights into active mobility during the COVID-19 epidemic. It also offered recommendations on how urban areas can encourage walking or cycling to improve mobility and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking at the event, Francesca Racioppi, Head of the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany, said: “It is really remarkable for a policy platform of such a voluntary nature to celebrate its 20th anniversary: this is a clear indication that Member States continue to value the benefits of working in partnership across sectoral boundaries on concrete projects that support the transition towards healthier, safer and greener transport.”

The Pan-European Policy Platform (PEP) is an intergovernmental platform that brings together policy-makers from different sectors to accelerate the transition towards clean, safe, and healthy mobility and zero-emission transport. It is led and managed by its Steering Committee of Member States, and jointly supported by UNECE (World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe).

Safe and clean transport

Recent achievements of the PEP have been remarkable. For example, in May last year, Member States adopted the Vienna Declaration on “Building forward better by transforming to new, clean, safe, healthy and inclusive mobility and transport,” which included the first-ever Pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion.

The Master Plan called to double the number of cyclists in the region by 2030. It included a range measures such as reallocating space for walking and cycling, improving active mobility infrastructure, and developing national cycling policies and strategies.

Long-term impact

The COVID-19 epidemic has also highlighted the importance active mobility for public health. Stabilizing mobility can also increase resilience to disasters or crises. European Member States are currently working on post-pandemic recovery plans that should focus on innovative ways to expand clean, safe, healthy, and inclusive mobility and transportation. This includes reducing car dependency, improving rail transport, and significantly increasing safe walking or cycling.

This 20th anniversary provides an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and progress made by THE PEP and also to look ahead to future opportunities for development and the next Ministerial conference to be hosted in Moscow by the Russian Federation in 2025.

See Also

United Action for Better Health in Europe

Ensuring better health and well-being is a key pillar of both WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work and the European Programme of Work, 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”. This vision is based on the creation of healthy environments, including stronger urban areas. The PEP forms an important part in the work on environment & health.

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* The pan-European region consists of the 56 Member States of UNECE and includes all 53 Member States of the WHO European Region.

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