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WHO receives Decade of Action Award

10 December 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) has received the Prince Michael Decade of Action Award for its leadership in advancing the road safety agenda across the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. This award was received by Dr Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department of Social Determinants of Health, at an event in London hosted by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent. Through this award WHO is acknowledged for its role in coordinating the work of United Nations agencies and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations and helping countries to implement the Global Plan for the Decade of Action.

Congratulating the team from WHO, Prince Michael said, “Each year I make a special award recognising outstanding leadership in advancing the international road safety agenda during the UN Decade of Action. Since the publication of the World report on road traffic injury prevention in 2004, the team led by Dr Etienne Krug has done just this.”

“Road traffic deaths and injuries and their enormous costs to society are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,” notes Dr Krug. “The world is on the cusp of a transport revolution and safety must be an integral part of these transformations. My colleagues and I are honoured to receive this prestigious award on behalf of WHO and in doing so commit to continuing to work tirelessly to promote road safety and improve the health and well-being of all who use the world’s roads.”

Decade of Action was launched in May 2011 with great enthusiasm and optimism by governments around the world, and has been instrumental in providing a framework for action on road safety. Its most important achievement has been to avoid the projected number of road traffic deaths which was set at 1.9 million deaths per year by 2020. Other accomplishments include major injections of funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, FIA Foundation, Botnar Foundation and others; new car and road assessment programmes in many countries; enhanced emergency care systems; creation and expansion of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety to 237 members in 92 countries; better reporting on road safety with a focus on solutions; and strengthened links with agenda such as the environment, physical activity and noncommunicable diseases. In addition, road safety is now included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with targets 3.6 and 11.2, and has its own set of 12 global performance targets such as the proportion of vehicles travelling over the posted speed limit or the percentage of new roads that meet a three-star rating or better.

Globally, the number of road traffic deaths continues to rise, reaching an annual toll of around 1.35 million. That’s 3700 deaths per day, and one death every 24 seconds. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years. Rates of death are ten times higher in the worst performing countries of the world than in the best performing countries of the world. In addition to these deaths, up to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability. The burden of road traffic deaths and injuries is disproportionately borne by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists; in other words, they are people not traveling in a car. In addition to their impact on health and well-being, road traffic crashes cost most countries around 3% of their gross domestic product.

The 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety set to take place in Stockholm, Sweden on 19th-20th February 2020 will offer an opportunity for delegates to share successes and lessons from implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action and define ways to accelerate action on proven strategies to save lives. The Ministerial Conference will gather around 1500 delegates, including ministers from United Nations Member States, senior officials from United Nations agencies and representatives from civil society, academia and the private sector. It is expected to issue a declaration calling for among other actions an extension of the global target on road safety so that it is aligned with the 2030 end date of the Sustainable Development Goals and a High-level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on Road Safety.