By Vanessa Silveyra de la Garza, Global Director of Sustainability and User Attention for Aleatica
Mexico City, May 2021 – When people use the word sustainability, we often think exclusively about matters related to the environment, but the scope of the concept is much broader and has economic and social implications. At the general level, from my perspective as the global sustainability director of a company that operates in the transportation infrastructure industry, it means that all our actions must be accompanied by a commitment to the communities where we work and the planet.
For private initiative, sustainability is a tool that invites us to create ambitious strategies with a long-term vision. When we do it well, it becomes the backbone of our actions both within and outside the company.
For a sector as essential as mobility, factors like safety, protecting the environment and the efficiency of operations should not be mutually exclusive. Rather, these aspects must work together to drive economic development, competitiveness and inclusive growth. It is here where we face the important challenge of being agents of change, and from our trench we can contribute to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda serves as a guide for giving value to not only shareholders, but also to customers, employees and society as a whole.
Based on this outlook, in our sector, roadway accident prevention plays a key role. The World Health Organization has reported that these incidents–which cause up to 50 million injuries annually1 and are the main cause of death around the world for people between the ages of 5 and 292–would be preventable through improved road education for drivers and the use of best practices in roadway construction and maintenance3. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reported that, in 2019, 45% of deaths caused by accidents in Mexico were related to transportation accidents, which represented the death of more than 15,000 people4. It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done in this area.
Another priority is to reduce the carbon footprint of the roadway industry and promoting cleaner mobility through the use of technology and a transition to the use of vehicles that do not produce direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, like hybrid and electric vehicles. This is important, because Mexico is the eleventh highest producer in the world of carbon emissions5.
In January 2020, the Institution for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) published a report entitled “Negative Externalities Associated with Land Transportation in Mexico”, which indicates that “the transportation sector is responsible for 34% of the total emissions generated by the burning of fossil fuels, and 97% of these emissions are generated by land transportation.” It is clear that we need to prioritize the work on this issue and offer smart and sustainable roadway solutions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The challenges of roadway safety and greenhouse gas emissions are illustrative of the urgent need for us to create collaborative alliances between sectors and to make a true commitment to promoting wellbeing. Sustainable business practices unmistakably form an integral part of the response to these challenges. In Mexico and around the world, the prioritization of sustainable business strategies will be the path towards achieving a more solid business and a more equitable society.