Skip to main content

WEBINAR: Going to work or on vacation: mobility in a post-COVID world

The webinar objective is to understand and explore post-COVID trends on mobility

'Going to work or on vacation: mobility in a post-COVID world' is the fifth webinar from the broader series: ‘Sustainable Living 1.5: Empowering People to live better and lighter’.

The registration link can be found here!

Date: 15 September 2020

Time: 13.00 - 14.30 Central Eastern Time 

Context: The transport sector currently contributes 23 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. We all have to get places and the impact we have on climate change and air pollution is directly attributed to our transport choices. Though more can be done to ensure safer infrastructure, walking and cycling is the way most people on the planet get around.  People powered movement is cheap (or even free!), clean, and good for your health. Driving less, sharing your ride, and swapping to electric are just some of the main ways to reduce our carbon footprint. However we move, the way we design cities is going to be crucial in promoting low carbon mobility solutions globally in the future.

Speakers will cover: COVID trends on mobility; sustainability challenges and opportunities; contrasting African/European mobility policies; and COVID trends on leisure- focusing on experiences, staying closer or staying longer and buying better!


13.00-13.05 - Welcome to the Living Better and Lighter Series – Garrette Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles, Consumption and Production Unit, UNEP

13.00-13.10 - Introduction: Rob De Jong, Head of Air Quality and Mobility Unit, UNEP

13.10-13.20 - Christopher Kost, Africa Program Director, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy

13.20-13.30 - Christopher Warren, Director, The International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) Australia

13.30-13.40 - Claudia Adriazola-Steil, Deputy Director, Urban Mobility Program and Director of Health and Road Safety Program, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities 

13.40-14.30 - Moderated discussion and Conclusions

Click here for the webinar slides!

Key messages from Webinar 

Everyday, we all get up in the morning and make choices that impact the world around us. We bike or drive to work, we walk to the supermarket, and we take the train or plane to go on vacation. All these activities involve mobility choices.  So how we move everyday has an impact on the environment as well as our well-being. Through COVID19 we’ve also seen that it is possible to improve air quality in cities when we massively move to walking and cycling.  The fifth webinar from the broader webinar series Sustainable Living 1.5: Empowering people to live better and lighter invited three expert panelists to discuss COVID trends on mobility and what actions could make mobility and tourism more sustainable.

1. Building back better in African cities

The first panelist Christopher Kost (Africa Program Director, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy) pointed out the vast majority of people in African cities are already using sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and public transport. The main challenge remains the lack of adequate facilities, including wide enough footpaths, safe and well-maintained bike lanes, and reliable public transport. Needed changes are showcased in countries like Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia where positive efforts on walking and cycling are already happening! In Uganda, for instance, high level political support for cycling contributed to a boom in bike sales and the redesign of upcoming infrastructure projects to include bike lanes. Moreover, a lot of countries are working on street design manuals and Ethiopia recently launched a national Non-Motorised Transport Strategy. Lastly, Kost noted the need to shift funding from car-oriented road projects to public transport and to change the operating model for public transport.  “We really have to think about how we are going to transform the business model in public transport because most of the public transport in the African region is still operating on the target system,” meaning that bus operators’ earnings are directly linked to customer fares. A new economic model for services could use compensation based on vehicle kilometres travelled rather than number of passengers which could also make it easier for operators to comply with public health directives, such as the capacity restrictions in the midst of COVID-19. In short, while individuals play an important role in making sustainable mobility choices, governments also have the responsibility to provide facilities and services so that people find it convenient to walk, bike and use public transport.

2. COVID leisure mobility: opportunities for sustainable tourism

The second speaker Christopher Warren (Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) Australia) explored leisure mobility during COVID; the dramatic changes that occurred and how to make sustainable tourism mobility more effective. With COVID19 the tourism sector witnessed an unprecedented change in aviation as the number of people flying enormously dropped. “We are talking potentially about 2.8 billion less passengers between January and December this year which means that aviation companies lost 420 billion dollars.” Yet, some innovations occurred as airlines tried to cope with the new reality.  They include empty seat spacing, free travel insurances and pre-flight COVID testing. Interestingly, while the demand for trains also dropped, the use of private vehicles to take day trips increased during lockdown. Moreover, “people are resisting travelling and don’t want to go too far away from home because of increasing fear of travelling by ferry or by plane but at the same time they are desperate to get out”. For this reason, many people are booking local trips and there is a return to domestic travel in comparison to international tourism. According to Warren, ‘we need an integrated sustainable tourism mobility approach and we need to recognize that holidays are a great opportunity of breaking the habit of using a particular mode of transport that you’ve always been doing!” The idea is to have a range of different modes of transport integrated with the attractions, accommodations and facilities so schedules, rides and ticketing can be shared.

3. Post-COVID trends in mobility

Next, Claudia Adriazola-Steil (Deputy Director, Urban Mobility Program and Director of Health and Road Safety Program, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities) talked about mobility post-COVID in Latin America. Streets across the region were empty because of the lockdown, causing increased average vehicle speeds and thus higher risks of accidents. People simultaneously started to cycle more. However, surveys from Colombia suggest that especially women have issues around safety and the infrastructure when cycling. While in Bogota the bicycle share went up 4 times because of new pop up lanes, the motorcycle shares in traffic in Cali also had a 3-fold increase, making it more dangerous for cyclists. In other words, “it is amazing and horrifying at the same time to see kids really willing to bike to school but not under those dangerous conditions.” According to Adriazola-Steil, urgently needed policies should: make mass transit a mobility priority; control the increase of private cars and motorcycles; and focus on turning cycling into a safer and more attractive mode of transport. To promote and create a rapid response to cycling needs in cities safe speeds are critical! Here, the key message is the need to focus on speed management because it is a crucial factor for having more cyclists and more people walking in cities. People take the bike because it is good for the environment but more importantly, because it is a convenient, safe, and easy option to move around.

To find out more check out the following links:


Published on August 31, 2020

You might also be Interested in