global Transport Knowledge Partnership (gTKP) enters new development phase under management of the International Road Federation
Earlier this year, the Geneva Programme Centre of the International Road Federation (IRF) was entrusted with the ongoing management of the global Transport Knowledge Partnership (gTKP), with a special mandate to enhance the efficiency and outreach of the initiative going forward.
This multi-million pound project, created in 2004 and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), was set up as a first independent global forum to promote cutting edge transport knowledge and best practices in developing and transition countries.
gTKP’s core aim in this respect is to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of transport investments and policies, and thus facilitate high quality, competitive infrastructure and transport services for national development and poverty reduction.
Its work is concentrated in Africa, Asia and the EECCA (Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia). South America is also on the map, but not currently a focus region.
Transport driving development
Transport is not mentioned as one of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set out to guide development initiatives to 2015, yet it is a structure that underpins all of them. Simply put, without access to adequate transport infrastructure and services, the MDGs will not be effectively met, and achievements that are made will be difficult to sustain. Transport addresses the fundamental need of people to have access to employment, markets and goods and services such as education and health care. The existence of transport also creates challenges for development by, for example, contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, human trafficking, road accidents and a host of critical environmental problems. Developing countries are, for instance, more vulnerable to the effects of climate change as they have limited resources with which to mitigate and adapt.
The development of transport infrastructure is likely to be one of the most significant and costly investments that a country will make. This presents both major opportunities and difficulties for finance, economic development and public-private partnerships. It also means that the transport construction and management industry can be a major target for corruption and poor governance in countries where transparency is poor or civil society is not well developed.
For the first time in history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas. This raises critical new urban mobility challenges that must be addressed and integrated with ongoing problems of providing transport to dispersed, isolated and sparsely populated rural areas. Getting transport systems right will make a massive difference in terms of quality of life and equality of opportunity for the world’s growing population. It is an environmental challenge as much as a development challenge. Making transport a priority is inextricably linked to making human development and poverty reduction a reality (see Box 1).
Filling the knowledge gap
Access to knowledge gives access to solutions: filling knowledge gaps. The ‘knowledge gap’ refers to the disparity between the availability of information and access to it by those who need it most. In transport, these are primarily professionals and policymakers, stakeholders, communities and cross sector organisations affected by transport, or the lack of it. It also refers to the absence of necessary knowledge in certain critical areas. Closing the gaps, fostering networks and capturing and disseminating good practice and good research all contribute invaluably to improving transport infrastructure and services.
The objective of gTKP is to provide a unique ‘one-stop’ knowledge shop where information, as well as access to sector experts and best practices can be found quickly and freely. The data is mainstreamed around eight core themes – Environment, Finance & Economics, Governance, Road Safety, Rural Transport, Urban Mobility, Social Development, and Trade & Transport.
gTKP endeavours to share knowledge through a closely integrated package of communication tools, including notably:
The gTKP website – www.gtkp.com – is currently being thoroughly reviewed and revamped under the management of IRF to facilitate ease of use and access. The backbone of the new website will be an extensive knowledge library that constitutes a veritable transport information hub. The gTKP website will also feature a comprehensive events calendar, a job centre and many more features facilitating and encouraging knowledge exchange.
Publications – The gTKP website is conceived as just one, albeit vital, component of a whole array of dynamic and integrated knowledge dissemination initiatives, innovative communications strategies and projects to promote sustainable transport in parallel with economic, social and environmental progress.
A number of publications, best practice manuals and handbooks (in hard copy and/or CD-Rom formats) are published regularly and made available free of charge to gTKP stakeholders.
Workshops and conferences – As nothing can replace direct person-to-person contact and sharing of expertise and experiences, gTKP organises a comprehensive programme of seminars, conferences, networking opportunities and training courses.
A current example, at the time of going to press, is the major international Convention on Rural Roads being organised in conjunction with the Tanzania Roads Association (TARA) and IRF. This landmark occasion, being convened in Arusha 25-27 November, will provide a rare opportunity for governments, agencies, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders to come together and exchange the very latest experience and research on rural roads and transport in Africa and other developing regions. The first day of the Conference will also feature a specialist round-table workshop on Governance in Transport – A Focus on East and Central Africa. Further information as well as programme and registration details for both the Conference and Workshop can be found online through either www.gtkp.com or www.irfnet.org
Vision going forward
The appointment of IRF to manage gTKP is designed to foster the project’s continued growth, as well as enhance its ability to influence policy at the highest levels and mobilise a broad range of stakeholders. Already, IRF has initiated a thorough review of all gTKP’s activities and has mapped out a strategy that will enable it to extend its impact and outreach, as well as continue to introduce dynamic, demand-driven activities that are of value to the varied needs of end users.
Given the importance of its commitment to sustainable transport, it is crucial that gTKP develops into a vibrant and lively project – one that is acknowledged by transport specialists throughout the world and universally recognised as one of the best and most authoritative knowledge dissemination hubs.
A key challenge going forward will be to ensure that gTKP remains responsive to evolving user needs, and provides the latest, most authoritative information relevant to improving transport and transport related systems in a manner that reflects specific regional and local concerns, opinions, needs and aspirations.
gTKP invites interested individuals to register free of charge and benefit from, or contribute to, its work as users on www.gtkp.com. Besides free of charge user registration, if you are interested in becoming a partner, we would welcome being contacted for further details via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The vision and objectives of the gTKP project are wholly synergistic with those of IRF, and its activities correlate directly with the aims and mission of IRF. In particular, the relationship reinforces a strong, shared commitment to actively advancing the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Indeed, by taking on board the gTKP project, IRF has successfully managed to extend its own spheres of expertise, geographical outreach and overall capacity to influence sustainable road infrastructure policy in regions that are critical for people, planet and future prosperity.
Some global transport stakes
As motorisation increases, so does the level of traffic crashes.
For more information
The gTKP Secretariat is hosted by the International Road Federation (IRF), 2 chemin de Blandonnet, CH-1214, Vernier/Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 306 02 60; Fax: +41 22 306 02 70; e-mail: email@example.com. Web: www.irfnet.org; www.gtkp.com