Jürgen Perschon, founder and executive director of EURIST (European Institute for Sustainable Transport), tells the GPSM community about the challenge of raising awareness among decision makers and his vision to decouple economic and social development from the growth of traffic.
GPSM: Could you briefly describe your consultancy and the main activities in the field of mobility and logistics?
Jürgen Perschon: As a non-profit organisation we want to help cities, governments and communities to develop good transport governance and reform their local and national transport systems to a more sustainable mode. We raise awareness and transfer best-practice knowledge to decision makers through lectures, seminars and workshops in order to create a basis for a paradigm change in mobility policy towards sustainable mobility for all. We believe that sustainable solutions consist of both technical and non-technical aspects and each local context needs a tailor-made package adapted to the specific geographical, cultural and social context.
We are working on the relatively new field of urban ropeways as a sustainable means of transportation and proposing their specific advantages in difficult topographical situations or in supplementing other public transport systems. We are working a lot in African countries and take advantage from a good network of specialists.
GPSM: In the Urban Transport Weeks you train young professionals about transport. What do you think inspires them most to choose transport as field of work?
Jürgen Perschon: Transport is one of the most pressing global issues of the future, in developing and developed countries. Students are aware of the fact that the current increase of transport volumes havs huge negative impacts on the human population causing health problems through pollution and a high risk of accidents or retarding the local economy through blocked traffic.
Students are inspired by the role sustainable transport can play in creating liveable cities. They would like to understand the scope of the problem and to envision applicable strategies beyond purely technological innovations. EURIST motivates young professionals to face the existing problems and develop human friendly cities.
GPSM: When thinking about the goal of achieving essentially CO2-free city logistics by 2030, what do you think is most important?
Jürgen Perschon: A key point is that we raise awareness among decision makers and economic actors for sustainable solutions to count on a strong base for the implementation of new strategies. We need a technical change to achieve CO2 free logistic using e.g. e-mobility, but it is crucial to include them in a holistic concept.
We can’t count only on new technologies; a goal has to be to reduce the amount of logistic travels in total because a trip that is not done cannot produce greenhouse gas emissions. This can be achieved by supporting the production and consumption of local goods or a network of enterprises that share their supply chains.
GPSM: Which challenges do you recognize while working towards sustainable mobility?
Jürgen Perschon: Sometimes it is hard to tackle the ways of thinking of stakeholders when they fall into their old thinking patterns. They are open-minded towards new solutions in the beginning, but when it comes to the decision, they trust the well-known way, resulting often in the fortification of motorised individual traffic.
As mentioned above, we consider that a substantial impact on the reduction of emission lies in the avoidance of transport by proposing proximity and mixed-used areas and other travel demand management measures. It might be one of the biggest challenges to convince the decision makers that the economic and social development can be decoupled from the growth of traffic.