Video speech by Mark Harbers, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the 84th session of the UN Inland Transport Committee, 22 February 2022

Toespraak van minister Harbers (IenW) op 22 februari 2022 in een videoboodschap bij de 84e sessie van de VN Inland Transport Committee. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Yours Excellences, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, 

It’s an honour for me to speak to you all for the first time, in my new role as the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management. 

First of all, let me congratulate you on 75 years of the Inland Transport Committee! The work of this important Committee has made the world a safer place. And made it more sustainable and more connected than ever.


But even after 75 years of good work, there is still plenty to do. Sustainable transport is the topic of this panel discussion today. And with good reason.

Now I don’t want to spend the few minutes I have, underlining the urgency of the need to act. I hope and believe that every single one of us is fully aware of that.  Instead, I want to highlight the ways that my country, the Netherlands, thinks the ITC can make a difference and move the transition forward. 

Transport is a vital factor in our everyday lives. Existential for our economies. For developed and developing countries alike.

From a Dutch point of view, the ITC has a key role to play.  First of all, by making sustainable mobility safe and reliable. For consumers and businesses, zero emission vehicles need to be as reliable as their current vehicles.   Everything hinges on road safety. We here at the ITC can create the necessary conditions and steer industry in the right direction. 

Secondly, we as countries have a role to play in ensuring the transition is convenient.  Charging an electric vehicle or filling up a hydrogen tank should be simple. It should be easy to find a charging station and easy to pay. 

I’m proud to say that my country, the Netherlands, has the highest number of public charging stations per capita in the world.  And we have ambitious policies that promote the use of electric vehicles, vans and trucks. 

But this transition is meaningless if it doesn’t extend beyond borders. In my opinion, one card – ideally your bank card – should grant you access to every charging station in the world. We need global open standards. I hope that the ITC is ready to take up this cause. 

Last but not least, we here at the ITC should ensure the transition is just. We simply cannot afford to allow our old diesel and petrol vehicles to still be legally exported when they don’t meet our safety and emission standards. Currently they end up in developing countries, where they cause air pollution there instead. 
I call on you all to work together to draw up export standards and put an end to this unsustainable practice. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

2022 – the year the ITC celebrates its 75th birthday – is also the year in which the General Safety Regulation will come into force. The beginning of a new era! 

Automated driving is no longer a vision of the future, but today’s reality. And that too brings with it major opportunities for sustainability. Autonomous vehicles can be more efficient in their fuel consumption. 

Let’s create an environment that is open to those innovative endeavours. 

Thank you.