VREF and Walk21 support national walking policies

A new partnership of Walk21 and Volvo Research and Education Foundation (VREF) will support up to 56 national governments with the development of effective national walking policies that deliver improvements to health and well-being, mitigate climate change, and reduce road fatalities.

The policy training was announced on 15th November 2022, during the event titled The Role of Active Travel and Public Transport in the New Mobility Paradigm, at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The announcement responds to a core ambition of the COP Presidency call for support for Low Carbon Transport for Urban Sustainability (LOTUS)[1].

The training will be coordinated by Walk21 and operate between March and June 2023. Walking policy support will target 56 national governments in the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP).

By signing the Vienna Declaration Building forward better by transforming to new, clean, safe, healthy and inclusive mobility and transport at the 5th High Level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment of THE PEP in 2021, national ministers of the pan-European Region agreed to ‘Develop and implement national walking and cycling policies in every country’ in parallel to the development of an active travel masterplan for the region to be adopted in 2025[2].

Integral to the training programme, will be three new pieces of research:

  • Review and evaluation of the existing national walking policies in the pan-European region;
  • Collation of the published recommended actions that a national government should make that are relevant to better walking outcomes;
  • Case study examples of effective walking policy processes at national or sub regional level.

National government active in national walking policies from the pan-European region include, Armenia, Austria, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Türkiye and the UK represented by Scotland. Representatives from as many countries from the pan-European region as possible will also be encouraged to join the group.

Henrik Nolmark, Director of Volvo Research and Educational Foundations, said:

”We are specifically supporting Walk21 with this programme as part of our commitment to strengthen international research and research capacity on walking as a mode of transport, in ways that can contribute to more equitable access and sustainable mobility in urban transport.”

Bronwen Thornton, CEO of Walk21, said:

”We are delighted that the collaboration with VREF to set up this Walking Policy Training. It enables us to respond positively to the many calls from governments that we have received seeking the knowledge, processes and tools that are required to produce effective national walking policies.”

Biljana Filipovic, incoming THE PEP Chair said:

”One can only support such an initiative. Walking and cycling are important means of active mobility that can support the transition to a decarbonized society. They consistently show their positive effects on the health of individuals and the environment.”