On 6 September 2022, the inaugural meeting of the International Transport Infrastructure Observatory (ITIO) was held in the framework of the 35th annual session of the Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics (WP5) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
The ITIO is the UNECE meeting point and consultation tool on transport infrastructure. It is based on a web-GIS platform that collects data on different transport networks and infrastructures in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, covering road, rail, inland waterways, ports, airports, intermodal terminals, logistics centres and border crossing points.
The main objectives of the Observatory are: to enhance cooperation among the different transport infrastructure initiatives; to create economies of scale and maximize efficiency by helping governments and organizations to achieve more by spending less; to provide concrete and tangible inputs to governments by hosting data and findings of different topical studies; to disseminate knowledge, and best or good practices; among others.
The ITIO has been developed thanks to the financial support of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the collaboration of the Centre for Western Mediterranean Transportation Studies (CETMO), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the secretariat of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), which brings together countries from Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
During the session, the different collaborating entities reaffirmed their commitment to the Observatory development and set it as a model of international collaboration and coordination in the field of transport due to its capacity to collect and display specific and integrated information from so many transport corridors. More specifically, CETMO highlighted the importance of the ITIO in offering an objective vision of the infrastructural priorities of different regions, as well as complementarity between the transport networks of neighbouring regions, including the multimodal network of the GTMO 5+5, at a time of great transformation of the global transport system with processes such as digitalisation or decarbonisation and energy transition.
On the other hand, the session also served to demonstrate how the tool works. Thus, after registering and defining the type of user (government, multilateral development bank, regional organisation or general public), it would be possible to consult, for example, the physical characteristics of a specific section of the road infrastructure in a given corridor, but also the impact of climate change on an infrastructure.
Finally, the commitment of countries and international entities to the ITIO was stressed, in order to continue enriching its content with pending information or more updated data. This commitment should reinforce the role of the ITIO as a tool to promote development and as an example of good practice in the field of transport cooperation.