The Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) – namely the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (AsDB), Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the World Bank play a major role in investment in sustainable transport and over the last decade have become increasingly active in a range of road safety related initiatives.
In 2006 the World Bank launched the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) to strengthen country road safety capacity, scale up financial support for road injury prevention, and mainstream road safety into their own road transport investments53. From a relatively modest level of donor support, the GRSF has succeeded in leveraging an impressive 634% increase in World Bank road safety activities. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, GRSF invested $3.75 million to its portfolio of global road safety activities, which contributed to an additional $411 million in road safety lending activities via World Bank financed operations. On average, each dollar of grant funding provided by GRSF resulted in $39 spent directly on road safety through World Bank project lending.
Together the MDBs launched an important effort to support harmonisation of their road safety policies in 2009. In advance of the first Global Ministerial Meeting on Road Safety held in Moscow in November that year, the MDBs issued a ‘Joint Statement on a Shared Approach to Managing Road Safety’ supporting exchange of best practice application of common standards based on Safe System principles. Although there are significant differences in the MDBs individual mandates, the Joint Statement acknowledged that there could be considerable benefit from the adoption of similar policies and procedures in their road safety lending portfolios. In principle, greater harmonisation could improve donor coordination, reduce administrative burdens, and, most importantly, achieve stronger road safety outcomes.
To further promote these aims, the MDB Road Safety Initiative was established in 2011 which is now part of the MDB Working Group on Sustainable Transport. In 2014, the MDBs issued Road Safety Guidelines that set out a common framework for road safety screening of road infrastructure investments. The guidelines include a check list to ensure early project evaluation of possible road safety deficiencies or opportunities for improvement54. These joint activities are welcome and increasingly important as the MDBs are contributing significant resources to road infrastructure investment in low and middle income countries. In 2012, for example, at the RIO+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the nine MDBs made commitments amounting to $175 billion in loans and grants for sustainable transport by 2022. Road projects account for the largest share of this new investment and will have a critical impact on road safety in the recipient countries.
The MDBs acknowledge that more still needs to be done to fully mainstream road safety into their country operations. Concerns remain that road construction projects can still be found in which higher speeds are used as a key performance indicator of project efficiency. Such shortsighted approaches totally fail to apply Safe System safeguards about human vulnerability to impact injury.
Another area that requires attention is the professional quality and standards applied to road safety audits and inspections. An important step forward would be the widespread adoption of a ‘three star’ standard for all new roads in developing countries as recommended by iRAP and the 3 Star Coalition – see Box 9.
3 Star Coalition
The 3 Star Coalition, led by the Global Fund for Health52, is advocating for the design and construction of safer roads in low and middle income countries. They are calling for roads in developing countries to be built to a minimum three-star safety standard for all road users. The three star standard is deemed both affordable and safe by iRAP, a charity dedicated to preventing road deaths.
iRAP has developed an engineering-based system for rating the safety of a road on a scale from one to five stars, considering the safety of all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists in addition to that of vehicle occupants. iRAP has determined that a three starrating for all road users is economically viable and should be implemented on all road projects. According to iRAP, every additional star can reduce the number of crash-related injuries on a road by approximately half.
A number of countries are now using the iRAP rating system to benchmark their road infrastructure. For example, the Netherlands has committed to a three star minimum on all national roads by 2020; Sweden to a three to four star minimum on 75% of all roads by 2020; and New Zealand to a four star minimum for all roads of national significance. The 3 Star Coalition is now encouraging the World Bank and the other MDBs to adopt a three star standard. In support of this, in a bi-partisan initiative, forty-nine members of the US Congress wrote in 2015 to the World Bank’s President, Jim Yong Kim, encouraging him to ensure a minimum ‘three star’ safety performance on all Bank-funded roads.
A new and important commitment to mainstreaming road safety has recently been made by the World Bank with the adoption of updated environmental and social safeguard policies. The Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) was adopted in 2016 and is specifically designed to support the SDGs55. For the first time, the new ESF includes traffic and road safety in a section dedicated to Community Health and Safety (See Box 10).
Road Safety and the World Bank Safeguards Policy (Extract)
Traffic and Road Safety
10. The Borrower will identify, evaluate and monitor the potential traffic and road safety risks to workers, affected communities and road users throughout the project life-cycle and, where appropriate, will develop measures and plans to address them. The Borrower will incorporate technically and financially feasible road safety measures into the project design to prevent and mitigate potential road safety risks to road users and affected communities.
11. Where appropriate, the Borrower will undertake a road safety assessment for each phase of the project, and will monitor incidents and accidents, and prepare regular reports of such monitoring. The Borrower will use the reports to identify negative safety issues, and establish and implement measures to resolve them.
12. For vehicles or fleets of vehicles for the purposes of the project (owned or leased), the Borrower will put in place appropriate processes, including driver training, to improve driver and vehicle safety, as well as systems for monitoring and enforcement. The Borrower will consider the safety record or rating of vehicles in purchase or leasing decisions and require regular maintenance of all project vehicles.
13. For projects that operate construction and other equipment on public roads or where the use of project equipment could have an impact on public roads or other public infrastructure, the Borrower will take appropriate safety measures to avoid the occurrence of incidents and injuries to members of the public associated with the operation of such equipment.
The World Bank describes the new ESF as representing the “core values of the institution” and so the inclusion of road safety is a very significant commitment56. The ESF will not be fully implemented until 2018 and the Bank is currently examining how the new ESF will be practically applied. There is clearly an opportunity for the Bank to build on the current MDB Road Safety Guidelines and tackle those areas already identified as weaknesses in current policy and procedures. It will also be very important that the World Bank’s inclusion of road safety in its safeguard policies are also carried over to the policies and practices of the other MDBs.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of the new World Bank ESF and the MDB Joint Road Safety Initiative will depend on strong engagement with the governments and communities of borrower countries. We must move decisively beyond the tendency to treat road safety as a secondary issue to be treated with retrofit remedial measures that would be unnecessary with better original design. This step change in procedure requires that the MDBs, firstly, ensure that both the human and financial consequences of neglecting road safety are fully included in the cost benefit analysis of projects; and secondly, that these avoidable costs are made clear to ministers, Parliamentarians and local communities of the client country; and thirdly, apply Safe System principles to all their road investments.