Automatgenererad bild.

4 February 2015

Sustainable mobility initiative
on track

Everyone agrees that transport must become more efficient and less harmful to the environment. The only question is how to achieve this. Many people see solutions in technology, but it is not the whole answer. Mistra, now it is considering its own call for proposals in the area, wants to go a different way: towards accessibility and sustainable mobility. One question is whether, to meet one another, we need to move physically.

Creating a sustainable transport system is one of the big challenges if we are to succeed in meeting future environmental goals. This is therefore an area in which Mistra has previously invested substantial resources, in programmes like TransportMistra and E4 Mistra.

Now the time may have come again. An external working group has been charged with rethinking what a new research programme concerning transport should contain.

‘When the Board began discussing the group’s report it became clear that there’s already extensive research under way, both in academia and in businesses, focusing on technology,’ says Christopher Folkeson Welch, Mistra’s Programmes Director.

The Board therefore tasked Mistra’s secretariat with developing the proposal further. The question is whether there is a clear niche in which a Mistra programme could make a major difference. Above all, the Board wants to see a comprehensive approach centred on system solutions and emphasising the importance of attitudes and behaviour.

‘Technical solutions are vital and they’ve helped to bring about the steady reduction in emissions from private as well as commercial vehicles. At the same time, total transport operations are increasing and that means that the effect of the technical advances is swallowed up. If we’re really going to solve the problems associated with transport, we’ve got to start thinking more in terms of accessibility and sustainable mobility,’ thinks Mistra’s Chief Executive Åke Iverfeldt.

Sector-wide focus needed

Functionality has therefore become more important. Do we really have move physically to meet one another? This is one of many questions that a new programme, if any, may address.

‘IT solutions of various types may be one option, but perhaps there are other ways of resolving the issue. The essential thing is that we want a broader approach, and to talk about accessibility and sustainable mobility instead of sustainable transport. To get there, we think there must be sector-wide research with society’s needs as a starting point. What governs our own attitudes and behaviour is central. Why do we keep on travelling by car to such a high degree although there are perfectly good alternatives?’ asks Iverfeldt.

The task of compiling new documentation will continue during the spring. In June the outcome will be presented to the Board, which may then decide to call for proposals for a new programme. In that case, the call will be issued in the early autumn.

Text: Per Westergård, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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