What is THE PEP? What is a Ministerial Meeting?
THE PEP (Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme) is an intersectoral and intergovernmental framework to promote sustainable mobility. It integrates the fields of environment and health and aims to develop integrated approaches and solutions. THE PEP is supported by UNECE and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Every five years, ministers of THE PEP Member States meet at a High-Level Meeting to promote cross-sectoral cooperation at the highest level in the fields of transport, health and environment on a pan-European level. The fifth High-level Ministerial Meeting was held online due to COVID-19 in Vienna in May 2021 and resulted in the adoption of the “Vienna Declaration” under the theme “Building forward better by transforming to new, clean, safe, healthy and inclusive mobility and transport”.
Preceding the Ministerial Meeting – The Youth Forums
Preceding the Ministerial, three virtual Youth Forums, prepared by Austrian experts in the fields of transport, health and environment, took place. The aim was to gather insights, ideas, opinions and visions of young people across Europe regarding the future of (sustainable) mobility. Twenty-seven young participants from 12 countries attended the Youth Forums. Each of the Forums focused on one topic related to sustainable mobility: Mobility Management, Active Mobility and Public Transportation. In the course of the Youth Forums, the young people participated in workshops to gather opinions, visions and ideas for strategies to implement in the next five years and awarded points to the strategies they deemed most critical. The Youth Forums culminated in the Youth Position Paper, which was officially presented on Ministerial Level at the fifth THE PEP High-level Ministerial Meeting by two young persons.
Outcome – YOUTH POSITION PAPER
The Youth Position Paper summarizes the thoughts and visions on mobility of the future of the young people. Mobility is important, in particular for the youth. It needs to be safe, accessible, affordable and sustainable. The paper includes a mission statement under the title “No More Empty Promises”, reflecting the following three visions for sustainable mobility for children and young people:
- Changing the Mindset
- Make the Healthy Choice an Easy Choice!
- Make Public Transport Cool again!
Many young people do not have access to cars, however moving around independently is important for them and their development. In particular, in rural areas public transportation needs to be expanded. Active mobility (walking and cycling) needs to be fostered and it needs to be perceived as a viable alternative to car travel. Space should be redistributed, away from cars and towards active forms of travel.
Communication is key – changing the mindsets of people in favour of sustainable means of transport is necessary. And of course: the youth wants to be heard. They want to be included in decision making processes. They urge stakeholders to focus on participation and establish local councils where residents can participate.
What’s next? Youth at stake
Children and youth are the society of tomorrow. Young people are full of wishes, ideas and visions for a sustainable, healthy and active mobility future. Child- and youth-friendly transport and space planning provides more well-being and quality of life for all! Ministers of the THE PEP Member States recognize the importance of creating a child- and youth-friendly environment, and thus welcome the establishment of a new THE PEP Partnership on child- and youth-friendly mobility in the adopted Vienna Declaration. The Youth Position Paper provides invaluable insights into the visions of young people for transport, health and the environment, and it will act as an impulse and inspiration for a new partnership.
The message is clear – Sustainable, affordable, active and safe mobility is high up on the agenda of young people. It is clear that the youth needs to be heard more. No more empty promises!