October 19, 2009
You have recently published several articles on the European Union’s initiative to promote smart cities and energy- efficient technology (‘EU to promote clean energy with smart cities‘, ‘Europe to triple funding for energy research‘, ‘Brussels to propose mandatory EU energy savings goal‘).
None of these articles mention the cheap and simple measure of encouraging a modal shift in transport. The transport sector is a massive contributor to energy use and the eventual direction that transport takes in the European Union is vitally important for our economic future.
While we all agree on the importance of transport, the ways and means of achieving a sustainable logistics chain are often the topic of hot debate. And in many cases, viable options are glossed over or ignored. While promotion of new ideas and new technologies is important, it is equally important that we do not ignore the possibility that solutions to some of our problems already exist and that all that is required is a mind-shift to see them.
Any plan for ‘smart cities’ which ignores the existence of and the need to promote water-borne transport is not truly multi-dimensional. Rivers are the heart and lungs of cities and can be used in many different ways. They help smart cities to run low-carbon and congestion-free transportation at low-cost and much more.
Leisure activities, housing, the provision of potable water, freight and passenger transportation, and waste disposal can all exist hand-in-hand on the same waterway. Inland waterways are a win-win solution for all concerned.
We support the development of policies to enable inland navigation to shoulder some of the transport and logistics burden of the union, helping to work towards a shared goal of green and competitive economy.
Karin De Schepper, Inland Navigation Europe
Henk van der Velde, European Skippers Organisation
Theresia Hacksteiner, European Barge Union