|Mobility 2030: International Peer Review
Peer Review & Recommendations
From the WBCSD
This cooperative group project is being carried out over the period to September 2004. By that date we expect to have in hand the information and background that we need to cobble together a relatively short (10-20 pages) or so report with recommendations, accompanied by these background materials that appear here in the form of a supporting annex. It is our hope that those involved will agree to putting their names to the final version, so that it will carry the considerable weight of our collective experience and vision.
With this in view, we have tried to organize this collaborative process so that it will be relatively easy to access, and in the hope of organizing the whole thing in a way that invites and facilitates the contributions of all involved. The basic structure of the review can be seen by the section titles that you see just to your left.
It is our fondest hope that the positive, inclusive nature of this Open Society Initiative will be understood and embraced by all involved. It will be particularly important that the members of the WBCSD and especially those groups directly involved in the report join in here and get actively involved in this dialogue. The idea is very definitely not one of accusation/response, but of knowledge building in an open, collegial and, if we do say, rather new way. The world needs new ideas and new practices in many areas, and our currently and most spectacularly unsustainable mobility system is certainly one of these.
To: New Mobility @Forum and Sustran-Network
Our old friend and colleague, Ken Orski, formerly the original caretaker of the urban transport environment of the OECD's environment unit years ago when it was just getting started, has just kindly shared with us an abstract of and commentary on the just published report of the WBCSD. His closing phrase caught my attention, and I would like to invite commentary on it here. He writes:
"While it is too early to predict the report's longer term influence, the sponsoring companies clearly hope that their initiative will, at the very least, help to establish the auto industry's sincerity and good faith in trying to come to grips with the impact of its activities on the environment."
Now, I for one get no great pleasure in bashing the auto or energy industry - indeed I think it's a pretty dumb and counter-productive thing to do since one way or another they are also part of the solution (indeed they are important clients for my personal consulting work as I keep trying to edge them toward a more truly proactive approach in helping create and advance the New Mobility Agenda - I am not that reassured about either (a) the usefulness or (b) the sincerity and good faith - precisely! - of their participation in this particular exercise.
I have my own thoughts on this as you can imagine, but I would be interested to hear what others of you might have to say. Indeed, isn't the main issue behind this from our shared perspectives here is that we need to make them part of the solution. There can be no doubt about that. The question of course is: will they do it without firm leadership from the public policy end. And if so, what form should that take? (I attach to this note our short original 'mission statement' for The Commons which goes back now to several decades. Still pretty much the way it looks around here.)
The Commons - New Mobility Agenda
From: Eric Britton, Paris
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 3:19 PM
Thursday, July 08, 2004, Paris, France, Europe
We shall shortly be organizing here a framework for a more structured and ambitious discussion of this report, with an eye to seeing what we might be able to do to use its momentum to achieve some very practical near-term sustainability objectives. In the meantime, here is a good background piece by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP, www.ieep.org.uk) for your consideration:
Mobility Services: Setting the policy framework project, First Year Report The first year report of IEEP's Mobility Services project, funded by the Volvo Research Foundations, is now available. The report explores what we mean by the term 'mobility service' in the context of future urban sustainable transport by reviewing the literature and practical experience in the mobility and other service sectors.
Note: This report was funded by the foundation set up by a motor vehicle manufacturer (not part of that WBCSD group however). Food for thought in this context?
From: Lisa Peterson, ITDP, New York
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2004 12:25 AM
We are currently drafting a critique of the new WBCSD document. ITDP and the UN Caucus did a fairly easy-going critique of the Mobility 2001 report, but this one seems to merit a stronger response. We are particularly concerned about certain elements of the report - advocating for cheap cars in developing countries, for example.
From a broader perspective, it is disappointing that the report seems to approach "sustainable mobility" with the assumption that motorized vehicles (and, really, private motorized vehicles) are the sole element of a healthy transport system. Transit is barely mentioned, walking and bicycling are absent. Basically, the report either avoids taking a stance or comes out against anything that might limit auto use (congestion pricing and policies to limit urban sprawl are two examples).
Would you be interested in collaborating on this? Has anything progressed beyond what was publicly discussed on the sustran list?
Lisa Peterson, Communications Director
From: Eric Britton, Paris
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2004 10:35 PM
Wednesday, July 14, 2004, Paris, France, Europe
Splendid idea. And yes, I certainly agree that this is a fine occasion to be a bit severe with them - in Mississippi we call it plan speaking - on a number of grounds of which you have already done a good job in opening up the box. I have been ginning up a game plan on this but work has gotten a bit in the way. But the delay is only momentary.
What I propose now with your agreement and fine tuning is:
From: Lisa Peterson, ITDP, New York
Sent: Friday, July 16, 2004 9:35 PM
Eric and all,
Thanks for raising this import issue. As many of you have pointed out, the Mobility 2030 report is disappointing at best, if not a dangerous attempt to greenwash the industry's expansion into developing countries.
We'd like to develop a critique of the report, and invite any of you to submit points for inclusion. I can compile them and circulate a combined critique to the list for comment and feedback.
Some general points of criticism, to add to what you've all been saying:
From: Eric Britton, Paris
Sunday, July 18, 2004, Paris, France, Europe
Subject: WBCSD Mobility 2030 report - International Peer Review
This cooperation with the ITDP and all of us in this cooperative venture strikes me as an truly admirable example of a concrete way in which we can put our long and carefully developed, highly knowledgeable and fully independent world policy and practice network to work in the cause of sustainable development and social justice. I think we all agree that the WBCSD report and its recommendations needs to be put into the proper perspective of the real issues and choices that together constitute the sustainability agenda. And that as it stands this is a job which has yet to be done.
Our ultimate goal is of course not to trash the WBCSD report - nobody's perfect - but rather to see if we can seize this opportunity to set what they have done in a much needed broader, true activist sustainability perspective. The sponsors offer it as a step in a process which has yet to be engaged. There I think we are all in full agreement with them. So let's engage.
I am sure that we are all pretty much agreed that when we want to do is achieve useful positive results. Thus, rather than nag them, I propose that we seize this deliberately as a rare opportunity to lay the base for a real international coalition in favor of sustainable development - and sustainable mobility - with a strong commitment to the real bottom line. Our view of sustainability is that the contrary conditions are there, pressing terribly hard, and that all the trends are in the wrong direction. Sustainability will not wait.
But where, if this is so important, is this huge and one would hope spirited public dialogue taking place? For my part, I have scanned for critical articles that take an honest whack at the issues but thus far have been unable to come up with any. (See below for a quick summary of articles identified in the process.) Such an important problem area, and such little honest informed discussion. Hmm.
Let me not push this further for now, since my role here is not to blab but to help as I can in simulating and facilitating the discussions and process which we are now engaging. So, in addition to Lisa's three good points below, along with those brought up by Eric Bruun and Lee Schipper (also below), let me propose the following points and questions that it may be worthwhile commenting:
Sub-text: There is a huge hidden sub-text which I believe is vital here. It is this: "Every day that the present transportation paradigm continues without radical overhaul is money in the bank for the report's auto and energy industry sponsors: BP, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Michelin, Nissan, Norsk Hydro, Renault, Shell, Toyota and Volkswagen". If this is true, it means that the level of both urgency - and their responsibility at the major financial beneficiaries of the present arrangements - becomes quite other than what we see in those pages.
Missing issues? The report deals with a fairly long list of issues, targets. Good. But what are the issues that it is failing to address? Can we make a good list of these? And what are the consequences of this/these failures?
Surprising recommendations? Can we - can they? - point up any surprising recommendations that might not have been anticipated, given who they are, what they are doing, and where their interests lie.
Time horizon? What about the time horizon chosen? Is 2030 the right time horizon to focus on for issues such as these? For the decisions that need to be taken today - if the issues are indeed urgent. What is the implication of this choice? The cost?
Gravitas and quieting: And what about the implications of the report coming as it does from a respected international group like the WBCSD whose announced mission is "To provide business leadership as a catalyst for change toward sustainable development, and to promote the role of eco-efficiency, innovation and corporate social responsibility."
The process: The sponsors indicate that they have put four years of work with some two hundred participants in to this report, but as I look over their process I for one cannot spot any surprises,. It looks to me like the usual "managed outreach" approach which we see go0vts and industry engaging in all too often. But is that right? (I invite comment on this point, since we are in effect breaking their intended pattern, and perhaps if anyone ever does this again, they should be using a deeper and more opening critical model for pulling their information and recommendations together). $50 oil? What about $50 oil? Does that make any difference? Can it be harnessed as not so much part of the problem but an element of the solution?
Slamming session? Should we in addition to the more measured discussions have a wide open slamming and criticism session aimed at somewhat cruelly commenting (a) the current transportation paradigm and (b) the sponsors' role in locking it in? And jokes (including black humor). I think so because we need to open up the debate - something which they appear to have rigorously avoided despite their claims to the contrary - and even if most of this will never make it into our final report and recommendations, it nonetheless scan be a source of energy and new idea. So let's have at it, without ever forgetting that we are ladies and gentlemen.
Inviting sponsors and authors: I am asking Thorsten Arndt, Online Communications Manager of the WBCSD to be so kind as to inform all of those concerned within their network, including the authors and participants in the report and the process behind it, to come into this open international discussion and take active part. The program officer for the project is Miss. Claudia Schweizer. I very much hope that they will join in this important group venture. Indeed their report invites just this,
Why are we doing this? Finally, what's our message and to whom do we address it? I would suggest that there will be several eventual audiences, each of whom/which need to be addressed briefly in a final report. Positive messages to which they can respond! Among them:
The only other thing that comes to mind to kick this off is the importance of ensuring that once we have a solid piece of work with creative recommendations, we need to ensure that it gets highest levels of media coverage. Of course the ITDP team is well placed to do this, but given the large number of us in this network and our wide international presence, I vote that we all have a go at this when the time comes.
Ladies, gentelmen. To your pens.
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 11:20 AM
As you can see from the first round of responses in hours after the original call, we are off to a strong start. Couple of quick organizational suggestions in an attempt to facilitate all this as we move ahead.
1. Subject headings for systematic citation: After some discussion we propose the following subject headings for organizing future entries on what is likely to be a quite extensive commentary. (Notes in parenthesis only for clarification here.)
My hope is that this structure may encourage you to comment on one or more of these, which clearly should feed rather nicely into any eventual report or recommendations.
2. Self-identification: It would be much appreciated if with each posting you remind us as to your full name, title, organizational affiliation, etc. Why? Because we want this to carry the weight of our considerable background and credentials. This indeed is the power of this international peer review approach, making it I believe rather hard to ignore.
3. Process/presentation of materials: All of this will inevitably be somewhat ragged, spread out and hard to access efficiently if we leave it for the Yahoo Forum alone -- so I will get to work on this in the next 48 hours and create a cleaner presentation on the New Mobility Agenda website.
4. Schedule: I propose that we aim to tie this up with a final report from this end (probably short with the whole discussion in annex) by the end of August from this end - with attention to giving our friends at the ITDP as much as we/you conveniently can by their next week deadline. My hope is that this two level approach will serve the cause best. (in fact it may lead to more levels than that, since these raw materials may find many good uses in many places. Or so I very much hope.)
Since all of this is still early days, if you have any suggestions about modifying or extending any of this better, please let me know off group via Eric.Britton@ecoplan.org.
Let us here from you on this as well. You can either post your comments through the @Forum, or send them direct to us. In both cases they will be integrated into these sections here as well as the final report.
May we ask that you sign your notes with your name, titles, institutional affiliation and city/country? You will understand of course why we think it important for all concerned to know who these messages are coming from.
Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara 75006 Paris, France, Europe. T: +331 4326 1323
Copyright © 1994-2004 The Commons ® All rights reserved.
Last updated on 28 July 2004